WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced the Senate has passed the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) 2008 spending bill, which includes $21 million in funding for key Maryland transportation projects. Today’s vote continues the Senators’ commitment to help communities manage growth related to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s recommendations. Senator Mikulski is a member of the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee. Senator Cardin is a member of the Budget Committee.
“BRAC brings great opportunities, but it also brings great challenges. That’s why I will continue to fight for the funding in the federal checkbook to implement the BRAC decisions and meet the increased demands on our communities in Maryland,” said Senator Mikulski. “More money for Maryland highways and public transit systems means safer and faster commutes to work. This funding will help BRAC-ready our transportation systems to keep Marylanders on the move.”
“This funding bill recognizes the critical transportation challenges facing Maryland as we prepare for the relocation of jobs and workers as part of the BRAC process,” said Senator Cardin. “This bill also funds critical programs that provide housing for low-income elderly, support for homeless veterans, and the vital community development block grants program. This bill is good for Maryland and good for America.”
Senators Mikulski and Cardin have been fighting with their Team Maryland colleagues to prepare Maryland communities and military bases for the BRAC process, which will bring thousands of new employees to the state. This includes 10,000 new jobs that will never leave the country, in addition to 85,000 existing jobs on bases and up to 40,000 non-direct jobs.
The spending bill includes:
— $13 million for the MARC Commuter Rail System. The funding will be used for new locomotives and railcars, to study new station locations, and to improve existing stations.
— $3 million to improve access to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Harford County.
— $3 million to improve access to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda by making adjustments to the already congested Maryland Route 355.
— $1 million for the Central Maryland Transit Center at Fort Meade to house and maintain Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) buses that will serve Anne Arundel, Howard and northern Prince George’s Counties.
— $1 million for the Bi-County Transit Center in Langley Park to serve as an off-street bus transfer facility for residents of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.
The bill also includes an amendment providing an additional $1 billion for the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program following this year’s terrible tragedy in Minnesota. This program provides grants to states for bridge replacement, rehabilitation, preventative maintenance and inspections. The amendment would provide an additional $23 million in funding for Maryland, which currently receives $58.4 million a year based on a formula authorized in the 2005 transportation authorization bill (SAFETEA).
In the next step of the legislative process, the House and Senate will meet in Conference Committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. The Conference report will then be voted on by both Houses of Congress. Once passed by the House and Senate, the bill will go to the President for his signature.