The General Assembly approved Gov. Martin O’Malley’s transportation initiative Friday, legislation that will raise gas taxes to rebuild the state’s depleted highway construction and repair funds, as well as move forward on long-term light rail projects.
Citing legislative analysts, the Washington Post reports that motorists will likely pay an additional 13-20 cents per gallon by mid-2016.
Essentially, the legislation creates a wholesale tax that will be indexed to the price of fuel. The current 23.5-cent gas retail tax in Maryland hasn’t been raised since 1992 and is not adjusted to inflation.
The legislation ensures that revenues generated from the new gas tax will be dedicated for transportation projects. Currently, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro region commuters suffer from some of the worst congestion in the country, costing the state an estimated $3 billion annually, according to a transportation study funded by state business groups. The legislation is expected to raise $4.4 billion in revenue for transportation projects over the next six years.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell also recently passed a massive transportation bill in his state, albeit with a different funding mechanism, to help alleviate congestion in the Hampton Roads area and Northern Virginia.
Among other projects, the revenue from the transportation bill will enable plans for the 14-mile Baltimore City/Baltimore County Red Line and the proposed 16-mile light rail Purple Line from Bethesda to Prince George's County to continue moving forward.
“With the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act today, we will support more than 57,000 jobs, ease traffic congestion, and build a 21st century transportation network,” said Gov. O’Malley in a statement. “Maryland has now recovered nearly 95 percent of the jobs lost during the Bush recession, and today’s vote will help us put even more families back to work.