Governor Larry Hogan is advancing a plan to build a massive public/private toll highway project in Maryland – the Capital Beltway (I-495) and I-270 expansion. The Maryland Department of Transportation has already solicited bids from developers and is in the process of offering a contract to the Board of Public Works before a final environmental analysis is completed.
The supplemental draft environmental impact statement garnered 183 pages of technical and legal commentary by the November 30 period close. The statement is the latest in a flawed National Environmental Policy Act process that fails to assess reasonable alternatives, ignores environmental and human health. and limits the ability of the public to make meaningful comments on the proposed toll lane expansion project, including modifying versions of the summary section of the SDEIS without notice less than 13 days prior to the comment deadline.
To cite just one example, the plan would negatively affect six national park sites and dozens of local parks, 1,500 acres of forest cover, 30 miles of waterways and 50 acres of wetlands.
Before retiring, I worked in Oregon for the US Forest Service and it was my sole responsibility to write and edit a document on the National Environmental Policy Act. So, I know how important it is – especially the audience comment part.
Here are the highlights of the comments on the SDEIS:
· The Maryland Department of Transportation failed to disclose hidden costs to ratepayers, cumulative impacts, and impacts to specific sites of cultural significance.
Information presented in the SDEIS shows that the Governor’s expansion plans will create new and greater traffic and safety issues at major interchanges and merge areas, and permanently harm the irreplaceable natural, historic and environmental resources of the Maryland.
· The SDEIS does not look closely at environmental justice issues and ignores the harms environmental justice communities would suffer during the construction and operation of the proposed expansion.
· The SDEIS contains no discussion of human health and environmental effects of increased greenhouse gases and other air emissions, in direct violation of NEPA.
Janet K. Schlosser, Odenton
The only way for the public to reach the Governor’s office on matters requiring the assistance of its staff is to leave a message. This is a voice mail only system in which Governor Hogan’s recording states a promise that “one of my staff will contact you as soon as possible”. I left two messages in March with no response from staff. I think this lack of courtesy/attention to the voting/taxpaying public is worthy of Capital Gazette review and report.
The issue our community needs Governor (staff) help with is the unresponsive and dysfunctional SHA customer service management system that for a long period of time ignored dozens of requests to clean up debris and curbside trash drive along SHA roads in our area. Pictures of dirty, dirty public roads in northern Anne Arundel County would say a lot, if I could pick them up and send them.
Attempts to achieve results since January have failed. We need the weight of the Governor’s office to try to get results. Yet the governor’s non-response is that we don’t matter. The Baltimore Sun printed a letter to the editor on this issue, but it came to nothing. I think these issues are worth pointing out. I am ready to share details.
Laura Graham, Linthicum
In just a few months, we will mark the anniversary of the renovation of Truxtun Park. I frequent Truxtun and it is evident that there is robust use of this refurbished facility.
Given the increased use of courts, there is also an increased demand for sanitary facilities. Currently there is a port-a-potty that often needs cleaning/sanitizing and is frankly disgusting. With the hot summer months fast approaching, the City of Annapolis should arrange for additional facilities that are cleaned 3-4 times per week to meet demand.
Joy Goldberg, Annapolis
It’s been almost a month since the freighter Ever Forward has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay. Since then, efforts have been made to dredge the vessel and the expected removal date is estimated to be mid-April. Although the ship is not in the channel and therefore not blocking other ships, it could cause several environmental problems.
I am a resident of southern Anne Arundel County, where many neighborhoods (such as Fairview, Deale, Selby-by-the-Bay, Cape St Claire, etc.) reside on the waters of the many Chesapeake rivers. If oil from the ship leaks or cargo falls, it could potentially pollute nearby water bodies. This is a viable threat to the boating community, whose income depends on the bay’s ecosystem.
Now anyone would know that the pride of Maryland is its glorious blue crab, eaten with oysters and rockfish. It is for this reason that I implore you, Ever Forward, to move forward slowly in your withdrawal from our waters. To dear readers, I ask to take the Chesapeake with great care. Buy local, leave water spaces better than you found them, and follow environmental guidelines.
Kyrie Plaster, Tracys Landing
The so-called “bridge study” is a scam out of Maryland taxpayers’ money. The bottom line is to get started as soon as possible on a multi-bay bridge solution along the Chesapeake Bay with politics to hell. Otherwise, in 2030 we will continue to be stuck in eastbound or westbound traffic on the bridge.
Harold Eugene Jarboe, Severna Park
Tax Day, the IRS filing deadline, is always greeted with concern by taxpayers. But it’s especially scary this year. We are no longer in prosperous times; The Anne Arundel closures have hurt the economic well-being of employees and business owners, and record inflation is tearing family budgets apart.
Unfortunately, our local leaders don’t seem to feel our pain. County Executive Steuart Pittman has in the past introduced a budget that increases spending and raises property taxes. According to an article in this newspaper, Pittman’s first budget “raised income tax from 2.5% to 2.81% and property tax rates from 90.2 cents per $100 of property assessment. at 93.5 cents”. Pittman also lobbied the state legislature to pass a bill allowing local governments to tax at rates above the current state limit of 3.2 percent.
As we taxpayers write checks to the IRS and the Comptroller of Maryland, it would ease our anxiety if elected leaders forgo tax increases and allow us to keep more of our hard-earned money.
Steve Slattery, shady side
As Americans file their taxes, it’s important to remember how important the expanded Child Tax Credit has been for children and families.
Changes to the tax credit in 2021, including sending it as a monthly payment, have had a profound impact, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. Child poverty has fallen by 40%. CTC recipients led healthier lives, invested more in their children’s education, and were less likely to rely on payday loans. Families spent their CTC payments on rent, food and clothing for their children – the same costs are rising for all of us now.
But some lawmakers have halted an extension of CTC payments. As a result, 3.7 million children fell below the poverty line in January. And 1.4 million CLC households quit their jobs because they can no longer afford childcare.
Economists say extending the CTC is key to helping families facing rising costs due to inflation. How much more evidence do lawmakers need before they do the right thing?
I call on our members of Congress to extend CTC with a permanent full refund and resume monthly payments immediately.
Kathy Bartolomeo, Greenbelt
As our world faces the greatest threats of modern times in the form of war and disease, it is more important than ever that the world’s most vulnerable populations receive the support they desperately need. As evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, global emergencies are hitting low-income and poorest communities the hardest. Extreme poverty is a shockingly widespread problem that prevents the global community from responding with resilience to such crises.
Thus, each of us must do our part to convince our representatives in the House and in the Senate that international aid must be a priority in this increasingly interconnected world. As a student at the University of Maryland, I called, emailed, and wrote Representative Steny Hoyer, as well as Sens Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen Jr. to ask for their support on legislative texts. keys.
One example is the MINDS Act, a bill in Congress that would provide crucial investments in mental health programs around the world, particularly focused on the well-being of children.
I urge other members of our community to do the same; contacting your representatives is quick, easy and can have a massive positive impact on the lives of so many. So many of the people who make up the diverse communities across the state of Maryland are immigrants or have ties to the very nations that desperately need our support at this time. Through our collective voices, we can influence change.
Shawn Edelstein, College Park
I write to honor public servants for the invaluable, often unnoticed, service they provide to the public every day.
Public servants are the heart of every community, and their work is felt at the local, state, and federal levels in a variety of ways. They are scientists who develop lifesaving vaccines and medicines, homeland security officers who protect our borders, postal workers who ensure the timely delivery of essential goods to households and businesses, and first responders who fight the crime and put out fires.
Military officers protect our freedom and our democracy. Sadly, many have sacrificed their lives to protect ours. These are just a few of the many occupations within the public service that many Americans dedicate to their careers.
Americans should express our thanks for these hard-working public servants who prove America’s resilience, especially in the face of a global threat like the COVID-19 pandemic. They make every extraordinary day possible.
Marsha Padilla-Goad, Alexandria, Virginia