A town hall meeting held on May 17 by District 15’s legislators, Sen. Rob Garagiola (D) and Delegates Jean Cryor (R), Kathleen Dumais (D) and Brian Feldman (D), turned into a debate about the techway.
For the second time in a week — all had been at a meeting of West Montgomery Citizens Association on May 15 — the four representatives first talked about their reaction to the budget, slots, a threatened veto of a tax bill and impressions about what was, for each except Cryor, their first term in Annapolis.
The meeting was then turned over to questions from the audience. After a discussion in which all four came down solidly in favor of health care, techway talk started.
“What we need is a second bridge,” said Thomas Durek. Durek cited Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s (R) pledge to spend $400,000 on a new study of a techway. “Is he going to get some support?” Durek said.
The answer from District 15’s delegation was a resounding no.
Garagiola related his experiences knocking on doors during last year’s campaign. “There was a greater number of people who indicated they would rather not have a second crossing,” he said. “Spending $400,000 on a second crossing is not money well spent.”
Feldman cited the Potomac Master Plan, which opposes a bridge, as a reason to oppose the bridge. “The state has been loathe to supersede local control,” he said. “I have to give a great deal of deference to the Master Plan process.”
Dumais noted that next year is projected to be a difficult budget year and the money could be better spent elsewhere. “It’s not in the budget,” she said.
Cryor pointed out the practical arguments against a bridge and its accompanying highway. “There is no place to put a divided, four or six lane highway. We would have to take down hundreds of houses,” she said.
She also noted the unavailability of funding. “Even if you … can float it in the air … there is no money to build this bridge,” she said.
Cryor also pointed out that pollution is a larger issue which could be addressed in conjunction with traffic relief. “You must get rid of cars to stop pollution,” she said.
Cryor believes that mass transit is the real answer and that is what the people want. She explained that she has been to many public forums on issues such as this.
“I’ve seen the leaders talk about roads. I’ve seen the people talk about public transportation.”
All four delegates, and Durek, thought that a transit alternative should be explored. “If you build it, people will use it,” Cryor said.