Residents should speak up for easier commutes and road and bridge repairs, according to Frederick city and county leaders.
At a joint news conference Tuesday, Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith and city Alderwoman Carol Krimm praised a drafted transportation priorities plan that is under development by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Almost all major transportation projects need the council's blessing, so it's important to make sure the group's long-range plans reflect Frederick's needs, said Smith and Krimm.
The Frederick area has significant infrastructure issues, the officials said.
"We are actually behind the curve," Smith said.
Both Smith and Krimm sit on the council's Transportation Planning Board and say they like the way the drafted document ranks regional transportation issues.
Officials are looking for public feedback on the document. Smith and Krimm said they hope to see a sizable response from the Frederick County community. The comment period for the draft plan will remain open until Aug. 23.
The transportation board has spent several years working on the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, a process that included polling 660 residents for their opinions on transportation challenges and solutions.
Maintaining current transportation systems is of highest importance, but easing transit crowding and road congestion is next on the list, according to the draft. The report pays special attention to a bottleneck along four miles of I-70 in Frederick, and Krimm said the board has also given even greater focus to traffic flow along I-270.
A third priority in the plan is addressing other transportation challenges by providing more options for people with disabilities, encouraging alternative-fuel vehicles, and expanding cycling and walking opportunities.
Krimm said transportation networks affect all aspects of a community, and transit delays set back quality of life and the local economy.
Transportation needs are likely to climb with projections for population and job growth in the region, officials said during the news conference at Winchester Hall.
"I call it one of the perils of prosperity," said Frederick Alderwoman Karen Young, who chairs the council of government's board of directors.
But officials said the county's influence on the transportation planning board has been growing. Smith noted that the board recently gave a major boost to plans for an interchange at U.S. 15 and Monocacy Boulevard, an $84.5 million project that has topped the county's transportation wish list.
Frederick Mayor Randy McClement said it's only fitting that the city has a say when planners decide how to divvy up government funding.
"We are the second-largest municipality in the state, and we want to be heard," he said Tuesday.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.