Safety, funding measures top 2019 highway issues

December 19, 2019

In our final edition of E-motion for 2019, we reflect on the public policy highlights of this year.

At the top of the list was the enactment of the automated speed enforcement measure. The pilot program began in the fall with a “pre-enforcement testing period.” Beginning next month, motorists who drive through work zones at more than 10 mph over the speed limit will begin receiving citations after a first-offense warning. The initial fine will be $75, increasing to $150 for subsequent violations.

Automated speed enforcement tops the list because, as much as we talk about highway funding, work zone safety is and always has been the construction industry’s highest priority. Data show that Maryland’s program, which has been in place for several years, has reduced excessive speeding to less than 1 percent of drivers after beginning at 7 percent.

There also were positive developments on the funding front. As diversions from the Motor License Fund continue to be rolled back by 4 percent a year, legislation in the Senate would accelerate the rollback, making more money available for highway work. A House Republican task force also recommended accelerating the rollback, so it appears that the idea has a good chance of advancing in the second half of the current legislative session.

Additionally, the House task force recommended expanding public-private partnership opportunities, streamlining permitting processes, changing the way large highway projects are bid out, giving local governments the ability to impose additional fees and creating county infrastructure banks. We expect that those recommendations will be transformed into legislation early next year.

As we bid farewell to 2019, we leave you with best wishes for the holidays and hope you have a prosperous and healthy New Year. We’ll keep you posted as we turn the page to 2020.


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