ANNAPOLIS, Md. — On May 28, Governor Larry Hogan[R] released several legislative announcements. This included a list of bills that will become law without his signature.

One of the notable of these bills, which is now a state law, is HB414/SB81 “Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Project Funding.”

The Southern Maryland Rapid Transit (SMRT) is set out to be an “18.7-mile transitway in Maryland Route 5/U.S. Route 301 corridor from the Branch Avenue Metrorail Station in Prince George’s County to Waldorf and White Plains in Charles County.”

SMRT has had a long history going back three decades of discussions and studies. The last report was in 2017 conducted by the MTA titled SMRT Final Alternatives Report. The report listed reasons for such a transit system that included that out of the available options, there was no reliable travel time from Waldorf to other parts of the Washington metropolitan area. The report also found that the existing system is not adequate to keep up with the planned development in Charles County.

In addition to that report, a Bloomberg study in 2019 looked at the U.S. Census data from 2017 projections and determined that Charles County topped the costliest commute in the country.

The analysis conducted by Bloomberg found that Charles County residents spent an average of 388 hours commuting. About 28% of commuters left their homes for their commute before 6 a.m. Officials have said they hope that with the SMRT project, commute times will shrink and that the county citizens will benefit.

From fiscal years 2023 to 2027 the governor will allocate $5 million in the annual state budget towards SMRT, depending on federal funds received. In addition to this, the legislature added $5 to the fiscal year 2022 towards the project. In total the State legislature gave SMRT $30 million over the next six years.

The law will take effect on July 1, 2021.

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