MARYLAND, VIRGINIA PARTNER TO REBUILD BRIDGE: Maryland and Virginia will partner to rebuild and widen the American Legion Bridge in a billion-dollar project to relieve congestion at the Washington region’s worst traffic bottleneck, the states’ governors announced Tuesday. In an unusual example of interstate cooperation, Virginia has agreed to help pay for the project even though most of the bridge — like the Potomac River flowing beneath it — belongs to Maryland. Robert McCartney, Luz Lazo and Katherine Shaver of the Post report that story.
- Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the deal along with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) at a transportation conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., calling the agreement a “once-in-a generation achievement” for the region, reports Ryan Marshall for the Frederick News-Post. Hogan said he and Northam began discussing innovative solutions to the region’s traffic problems over the summer.
- The project will build a new bridge, replacing the existing lanes and adding two Express Lanes in each direction for the three miles between George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to approximately River Road in Maryland, Rebecca Cooper of the Washington Business Journal reports.
- Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes that the new 12-lane span will be built where the existing eight-lane bridge stands. It will be financed and constructed by one or more private contractors who will have the right to charge tolls of varying amounts on four new “express lanes” — two in each direction. The American Legion Bridge, which is backed up for many hours a day, carries Capital Beltway motorists over the Potomac River, linking Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. Daily traffic has grown 390% since the bridge opened in 1962, according to Maryland officials, with 235,000 vehicles using it daily.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that a press release from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office said the bridge-widening project would be done in conjunction with toll lane projects under way in Virginia and those proposed in Maryland and would use a public-private partnership model — sometimes called a P3 — in which a consortium of builders will bear the costs and manage the property for decades.
PRO-KIRWAN FORCES SHOW UP AT MEETING: Dozens of people in blue T-shirts packed a hearing room in Annapolis Tuesday night to deliver a message: Our kids can’t wait. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that they are part of a coalition offering support for sweeping — and expensive — reforms that are proposed for Maryland’s public schools.
- Many of the people who crowded into the final public hearing for the so-called Kirwan Commission called the plan the panel has devised for reforming the state’s public education system “transformative,” “critical to the future of the state,” “this historic opportunity,” “a moral imperative,” and “a call to action for the building of a world-class education system,” writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.
A WEAK INSPECTOR GENERAL: In Maryland, compromise provisions of the law “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” establishing an independent Inspector General for Education, have created a weak auditing office — a tired, toothless canine. The new IG will be statutorily much weaker than his or her counterparts within the U.S. GAO, federal IG offices, Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits, and IGs in the state’s executive-branch agencies, writes Charlie Hayward for Maryland Reporter.
FARMERS AIR CONCERNS FOR UPCOMING SESSION: Agriculture remains one of the top industries in Washington County, and Ryan Zimmerman, Northern Regional director for the Maryland Farm Bureau, has given local lawmakers a list of farmers’ concerns for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, writes Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
NYTIMES WRITES ABOUT HO CO SCHOOL ISSUE: Dana Goldstein of the New York Times has swooped into Columbia to write about the school redistricting controversy, writing that the “planned community of Columbia … has prided itself on its ethos of inclusion ever since it was founded more than half a century ago. Racially integrated. Affordable apartments near big homes. ‘The Next America’ was its optimistic, harmonious motto. But a recent proposal to restore some of that idealism by balancing the number of low-income children enrolled in schools across Howard County, including those in Columbia, has led to bitter divisions.”
OPINION: KEEPING HOWARD SCHOOLS THE BEST: Howard County resident Dr. Maria Trent, in a column for the Howard County Times, opines that Howard County is taking a bold step forward to address the economic segregation of its school system and the resultant inequity that is emerging. While the public comment period was open and engaging dialogue, I have been deeply troubled by the nature of some of the comments and behaviors that have emerged from a community known for tolerance and civility.
FIELD GETTING CROWDED FOR CUMMINGS’ SEAT: While unlikely to reach the fractious free-for-all of 1996 when 27 Democrats battled for the 7th congressional seat vacated by Kweisi Mfume, the race to succeed the late Elijah E. Cummings is getting rather crowded, writes Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.
- Less than a month ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings’ friend, staffer and wife each took the stage during his funeral at New Psalmist Baptist Church to eulogize the venerated congressman they loved and respected. Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said his friend “defied the limits of others’ expectations.” Harry Spikes said his boss taught him a “true leader shares leadership.” And, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings said her husband was both a public servant and “man of the people.” Now, notes Luke Broadwater for the Sun, all three are running against each other for his open seat.
BALL SAYS HE WON’T SEEK CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Erin Hardy of the Sun reports that Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced in a Facebook post Tuesday morning that he will not be entering the race to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings. “I will not run to succeed my dear friend and mentor Congressman Elijah Cummings. I am certain our community will elect someone with the strength, energy, and dedication needed to continue his work serving the 7th district and our country,” Ball wrote in his post.
CUMMINGS’ HAD RARE CANCER: Rep. Elijah Cummings had a rare form of cancer called thymic carcinoma when he died Oct. 17 at 68, according to his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. Cummings said her husband had lived with the cancer since he was diagnosed 25 years ago, which would have been during his time in the Maryland House of Delegates. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.
B’MORE SEEKS TO RIGHT CAMPAIGN LAWS: Talia Richman of the Sun reports that a Baltimore City Council committee took a step Tuesday toward eliminating an unconstitutional regulation that dictates when people in Baltimore can start displaying campaign materials outside their homes and on their lawns.
THE TUBMAN $20: Kaisha Young of the Salisbury Daily Times writes about the $20 bills dedicated to Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist from the Eastern Shore, and who they are turning up around the area. Although they haven’t been issued by the U.S. Treasury, they are still legal tender.