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January 14, 2010

Porcari role likely in transit policy shift

This is nothing more than an educated guess, but if investigators were to dust the Obama administration's new policy for funding transit projects, they would likely find former Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari's fingerprints all over it. The new policy allows the federal government to  give  more weight to such matters  as "livability," the environment and economic development in choosing which projects  to fund.

No disrespect  to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, but it is Porcari -- now the No. 2 official in the federal department -- who brought to the administration a deep experience with the  Bush administration's rigid cost-benefits formula for funding transit. As Maryland secretary, Porcari oversaw the Maryland Transit Administration's struggles to keep Baltimore Red Line project within the old formula -- which didn't allow much room  for accommodating the desires of the affected neighborhoods.

The payoff for Maryland in having an alumnus helping to craft federal decisions is that future policy could be more friendly to urban states such as Maryland. But  it is doubtful whether Porcari could play much of a role in decisions about projects already in the decision-making pipeline. The Red Line will have to stand or fall based on its own merits.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:33 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Red Line


This reminds me of The Wire...jukin' the stats. Everybody gets paid and everybody stays in office.

Logical, but dead wrong intel, Mr. Dresser. John Porcari undoubtedly had a crack at the final draft, but the guy on the point and having the "fingerprints" you reference was US DOT Sec for Policy and Smart Growth guru, Roy Kienitz. Like John a former senior State of MD official (Roy was Sec of State Planning), but unlike John, now has the luxury of doing this kind of thinking for US DOT Sec LaHood, whereas John, the highly gifted and talented administrator that he is, is essentially LaHood's COO and charged with trying to keep folks like the FAA Administrator, Randy Babbit, on the reservation. Good luck to both of these fine gentlemen. US DOT is pretty thread-bare when it comes to the in-house talent pool, and John and Roy are among the standouts no dount

At a presentation in DC in 12/08 at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Porcari was one of the speakers, and he spoke in great detail and depth on this specific issue, all the ins and outs. I imagine he has had as much or more to do with the policy change than the others mentioned by Old Timer. Based on that presentation, I was thinking how great it would be for Porcari to run FTA, instead, even better, he's Deputy Secretary. It's great for the region, not just Maryland.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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