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Potomac River Crossing's Nine Lives

The techway idea is still alive.

Here we go again… again. The continuing prospect of a techway and a new bridge across the Potomac River is reason to worry about the creation of a Regional Transportation Authority.

“Left to our own devices, there is no way we would have a techway or a second crossing across this county,” Council president Michael Subin told members of West Montgomery Citizens Association last week.

But regional forces would support the measure he predicted.

Last year, the General Assembly commissioned a study to determine whether Maryland would participate in a possible Regional Transit Authority.

“There’s always this idea that it’s a mechanism to get a second river crossing built,” said Del. Brian Feldman (D-15), representing Potomac and the upcounty in his freshman year in the General Assembly.

The commissioned study was presented in a meeting in Annapolis on Feb. 10.

“I was greatly cheered by the report,” said Del. Jean Cryor (R-15). “It basically said you can’t do anything without consensus,” Cryor said.

Considering the consensus there is on regional transit issues, the RTA would be ineffectual, but it is still cause for concern.

If an RTA were formed, it might have the power to override local zoning ordinances and community desires.

“The regional authority means lack of control,” said Ken Hartman, spokesman for councilmember Howard Denis (R-1). It could be used as a “back door” route to force a second river crossing (see related sidebar) through an area that, by and large, does not want one.

“This would create a whole new level of bureaucracy,” said Tina Brown of Solutions Not Sprawl, an umbrella organization for civic and environmental groups. “There are a lot of things that could be done — it doesn’t require a new level of government.”

"Go Montgomery," County Executive Doug Duncan’s transportation plan, calls for spending $400,000 on a new study of the need for such a bridge. "Go Montgomery" does support a Regional Transportation Authority.

“The only way to stop the second crossing is not to have a Regional Transportation Authority,” Subin said. “There is no sentiment on the Council whatsoever for a second crossing.”

THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY delegation as a whole is still toying with the idea of the Regional Transportation Authority. According to e-mail sent out by Brown, “Del. [John] Hurson (D-18) and Sen. [Jenny] Forehand (D-17) filed joint resolutions in the Maryland House and Senate which call for a conference to discuss the creation of a Regional Transportation Authority.”

“Resolutions are just a way of keeping an idea alive,” Cryor said. She does not believe that an RTA would be formed in the foreseeable future.

According to Cryor, she met with members of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s (R) staff and received assurances that he would not support it. The governor’s office was not able to comment on the issue before The Almanac’s press deadline on Tuesday.