HJR 526: Virginia-Maryland-District of Columbia Joint Legislative Commission on Interstate Transportation

May 17, 2002
Washington, D.C.

Three general topics made up the commissionís agenda:

  • Arrangements for discussions between commission members and members of the Virginia, Maryland, and District of Columbia Congressional delegations on the need for increased federal financial participation in transportation infrastructure improvements in the District and the Virginia and Maryland suburbs;
  • Creation of regional transportation authorities in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland, and the entire Washington metropolitan region; and
  • Conduct of an origin-and-destination study for vehicles using the American Legion Bridge between Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Congressional Meetings

On the first subject, the members discussed the difficulties that frustrated efforts of the commission (as a body) to meet with the entire Congressional delegation (at a single place and time) in the closing months of 2001, and the possibility that some of these difficulties might be avoided by either (i) arranging for selected representatives of the commission to testify during Congressional hearings on pending federal legislation to reauthorize the federal transportation program or (ii) having individual commission members meet one-on-one or in small groups with individual members of Congress as and when opportunities presented themselves. Commission staff was directed to obtain a schedule of Congressional hearings on the reauthorization legislation and forward that schedule to the commission, and representatives of the Virginia and Maryland Departments of Transportation were requested to develop for the members a list of priority projects whose funding by the federal government was particularly urgent and also defensible on the grounds of both regional security needs (such as evacuation in the event of a terrorist attack or threat of attack) and the commuting needs of federal employees.

Transportation Authority

The commission was briefed on legislation passed by the 2002 Session of the General Assembly that established a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and provided funding for the authorityís projects by means of a half-cent-on-the-dollar increase in the sales and use tax in Northern Virginia. In the course of discussion, it was pointed out that implementation of this legislation was dependent upon its approval by the regionís voters in a referendum to be held at the time of the upcoming November elections.

A spokesman for the consulting firm hired by Maryland to study the desirability of establishing of a regional transportation authority for the Maryland suburbs of Washington or for the entire Washington metropolitan area outlined the issues that his companyís study would consider in assessing the need for, funding of, and powers appropriate to any such authority. The consultantsí report is expected in late summer or early fall of this year.

Delegate Hurson submitted for the membersí consideration a draft resolution whereby the commission would request the Governors of Virginia and Maryland and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., to convene a conference on the creation of a single transportation authority for the entire Washington region. In the course of discussion, it was brought out that a similar proposal had been made within the past five years by the Washington Board of Trade, but that the proposal had not been embraced by the Virginia General Assembly.

American Legion Bridge

The dayís concluding presentation dealt with the information that could be generated by conducting an origin-and-destination study for vehicles using the American Legion (Cabin John) Bridge. It was pointed out that, through Virginia DOT, as much as $400,000 could be made available to fund a portion of the costs of such a study, provided that Maryland and the District of Columbia were prepared to participate as well. Some reservations were expressed as to the utility and reliability of the results of such a study if it obtained data only on American Legion Bridge traffic and not on traffic using other Potomac River crossings as well.


The Hon. Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.

For information, contact:

Alan B. Wambold
Division of Legislative Services


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