GREENBELT – As one of the largest municipalities in the county, the city of Greenbelt is hoping taking a stand on county and regional issues will make a difference for its residents. The city council discussed several state and regional issues during its Oct. 24 meeting: the state’s draft Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) and the […]
GREENBELT – As one of the largest municipalities in the county, the city of Greenbelt is hoping taking a stand on county and regional issues will make a difference for its residents.
The city council discussed several state and regional issues during its Oct. 24 meeting: the state’s draft Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) proposal to cut back on its rail operating hours. The council hopes to cause leaders to make changes in those plans by making its wishes explicitly known.
City staff planned to review the CTP on Wednesday, but had drafted a letter with initial comments for the council to vote on at Monday’s public meeting. The CTP, which spells out the state’s $14.4 billion of investments in transportation projects for fiscal years 2017-2022, includes $224.1 million in new projects but no changes affecting Greenbelt.
The plan does include money for infrastructure improvements at the Greenbelt Metro station and for the Purple Line, but not for the Route 193-Greenbelt Road Streetscape project, which is a priority for the city. The letter to Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, approved by the council 7-0, asks for funding for that item.
Mayor Emmett Jordan said the state needs to be prodded a bit.
“We really need to push to try and get the state to go ahead and put some money aside for that,” he said.
City Manager Michael McLaughlin said the project was currently second on the list of the planning stage items, but has a long way to go to come to fruition.
“It is the second project on the project planning list on the county’s priority list,” McLaughlin said. “So we get the project planning but then it would still have to work its way through the actual funding of the construction project.”
Other Greenbelt priorities such as the Sunnyside project, the 201 extension project and a study of the feasibility of widening the Capital Beltway are also on hold.
Mayor Pro Tem Judith Davis also added a line in the letter asking for even more funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. $184.5 million is already in the CTP.
Turning to Metro, Davis added an item to the agenda at the start of the meeting. Her motion was to have the city sign onto a letter written by County Councilwoman Deni Taveras and Mount Rainier City Council Member Tracy Hadden Loh describing reasons for opposing the elimination of late-night rail service.
“No proposal put before the public has explained why permanently closing every line of the Metrorail system during the pre-SafeTrack late-night hours is necessary on a continuing basis,” the letter reads. “Our county’s plans and billions of investments… already committed and in place will be jeopardized if WMATA moves forward with this proposal.”
However, the council instead voted unanimously to have city staff write their own letter with even stronger wording.
“The letter is good, except it does not explicitly oppose the elimination of the hours,” Jordan said. “I think that we should. Permanently eliminating those hours impacts suburban communities like Greenbelt a lot.”
Councilmember Leta Mach said issues of social justice needed to be raised to also address a proposal to potentially close stations in Prince George’s County completely during off-peak hours.
“I think the question of equity is the thing that needs to be stressed. This whole question that you might cut out hours for certain stations, and the majority of them are in Prince George’s County, that is untenable,” she said.
“Social injustice,” Davis added.