Hogan responds to Delaney’s I-81 criticisms

By Ryan Miner 

John-Delaney-AARP-debate

2018 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Delaney attacked Gov. Larry Hogan in a letter to the editor that was featured in today’s edition of The Herald-Mail newspaper, essentially blaming Hogan for “failing to move forward with bringing federal funds to Washington County to fix I-81.”

Delaney, who is running for re-election in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, blasted the Hogan administration for not prioritizing funding to fix the twelve-mile stretch of Interstate 81 that runs through Washington County.

In his letter, Delaney wrote,

Yet last week, when the U.S. Department of Transportation FASTLANE grants were announced, I-81 in Maryland was nowhere to be seen. Why? Because the Hogan administration decided not to even apply for consideration.

If you have ever traveled 81 from Pennsylvania through Maryland to West Virginia (or vice versa), you can certainly understand the imminent importance of widening that stretch of interstate –  a stretch of road that has seen a rapid increase of accidents – some resulting in fatalities – over the last ten years; Delaney, to his credit, acknowledged this important point in his letter, writing,

 The 12 miles of I-81 that run through Washington County are some of the most dangerous in the entire state. Accidents and collisions on I-81 happen with frightening regularity

But Delaney’s specious criticisms of Gov. Hogan should be examined further.

A little over two years ago when Martin O’Malley was finishing his final year leading Maryland’s executive branch, the Washington County legislative delegation, led then by former Delegate and now state Senator Andrew Serafini, wrote Rep. Delaney a letter urging federal support to fix and widen Interstate 81. Delaney responded to the delegation’s letter on February 11, 2014, with his own letter – found on his website – writing,

In the coming weeks, I am meeting with top officials at the Department of Transportation and I will make sure that I-81 in Maryland is brought to their attention. As the House considers the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill this year, I will make sure my colleagues are aware of the situation in Washington County.

Whatever happened with John Delaney’s alleged meeting with “top officials” in the Department of Transportation? Did the congressman, as he claimed in his earnestly confident letter to the Washington County delegation, “bring to their attention” the importance of widening I-81?

If the “meeting” with the Department of Transportation was successful or worth sharing, there is no doubt that Delaney would have boasted about the progress. After all, his rather obvious attempts to bolster his credentials for higher office cannot go unnoticed. But we didn’t hear a word about the alleged meeting with Transportation officials.

It’s been nearly four years of false promises and big ideas from John Delaney – but absolutely nothing to show for it. How convenient it is for Rep. Delaney to blame Gov. Hogan, a Republican, for an apparent disinterest in widening I-81 when Delaney throws out subtle hints that he’s interested in taking on Hogan in 2018.

Last year in March, The Daily Record reported on Delaney’s interest in widening I-81 to help “bring jobs and prosperity to western Maryland.”

More talk. No action.

I reached out to Gov. Hogan’s press office earlier today, asking for comment on Delaney’s letter.

Here is the statement I received from Gov. Hogan’s press office:

Governor Hogan has committed to building roads and bridges across the state, including more than $40 million for I-81 announced more than a year ago. I-81 did not meet the necessary requirements at this time for FastLane funding and Congressman Delaney’s constituents would be best served if he got his facts straight before attacking the administration’s transportation priorities.

Congressman Delaney and Congressman Van Hollen’s silence during the previous administration’s routine raids of the Transportation Trust Fund – to the detriment of Western Maryland – is far more telling than their insincere outrage this week. Had Congressman Delaney bothered to attend Governor Hogan’s federal priorities meeting with the Maryland delegation earlier this year, he would have learned the administration is eager to discuss transportation priorities in Western Maryland.

John Delaney has served Maryland’s 6th Congressional District for nearly four years. So far, what does he have to show for it?

John Delaney blaming Larry Hogan for his failures to enact meaningful legislative change is rich. Western Marylanders call upon Delaney to put aside partisan politics and help straighten out its outdated infrastructure. Western Marylanders, especially Washington County residents, can discern politicians who talk a big game but inevitably fail to deliver.

You should know that John Delaney is in Philadelphia this week mingling among Democratic elites in a desperate attempt to bolster his national profile for his likely run for governor in 2018.

Why don’t you come back home to Maryland, Rep. Delaney,  and stop with the partisan games? Come home and do your job!

Delaney should explain to western Marylanders why being a backbencher in Congress  – someone who talks a big game but can’t deliver – should be elevated by Marylanders to a higher office.

No more partisan games, John Delaney. Get to work.