LA PLATA, Md. — Charles County commuters are likely familiar with the terrible traffic moving about Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia(DMV). Some might have even heard the statement that their commute is the worst and most expensive in the nation.
But what is the solution to that commute?
Some have discussed expanding roadways, perhaps bringing a light rail route into the county, or maybe even expanding other current mass transit options.
But one option has been brought back to the Charles County Board of Commissioners(BOCC), which could potentially utilize a relatively untapped transportation option throughout the DMV: waterway transportation.
At their July 21 meeting, the BOCC unanimously voted to approve a support letter targeting a grant from America’s Marine Highway Program, part of the country’s Department of Transportation that focuses on waterborne transportation systems. The proposal, presented by representatives from the “M-495 Commuter Fast Ferry” initiative, hopes to build a public/private partnership that would allow for mass transit relief throughout the region.
“In [our goals, we’d be] transferring a lot of citizens, contractors, government workers off of I-495 and up and down the [Potomac] River, which hasn’t been utilized at all to it’s the fullest usage… mostly as a tourist route but we’re looking to turn that into a commuter route,” Jeremy Ebie, founder of the Phoenix Infrastructure Group and one of the presenters of the project explained to the board.
The slideshow presentation listed several benefits of how the project would benefit the region. Aside from alleviating some traffic, the operation would create jobs, startup, and maintenance costs are lower than other transportation projects and can lead to the creation of additional economic hubs near ports.
“We’ve had several studies… lots of pages of studies and we are tired of trying to study it,” Peggy Tadej from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission said during the presentation. “This application to [the Maritime Administration(MARAD)] was more about putting something in the water.”
The project has been in the works for some time, having completed its first feasibility survey back in 2001. Indian Head, Marshall Hall, and Fort Washington are among some of the originally proposed sites in Maryland, however, the plan now is to start with a location that sees heavier traffic regularly.
“So, we are trying to go for a dock that would be built at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on their marina side,” Tadej said. “One of the last studies we did actually looked at the gap analysis of where most of the people were going, and the reason that we picked there was because there are close to 18,000 people that will be moving to Homeland Security once it opens up… A lot of those people are coming from Virginia and Southern Maryland… If we can get them off the roads, it clears the road for all of us.”
Read through the whole slideshow below:
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