Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 8, 2013

Local legislation outcomes mixed

$1 million will be used for upgrades to ASCI

CUMBERLAND — The speed limit on Interstate 68 in Western Maryland won’t be going up, because a bill to allow a higher speed limit died in Senate and House committees. The failure of that bill was part of a mixed bag of results for legislation supported by the District 1 delegation in Annapolis. And the results for some of the legislation won’t be known until the General Assembly adjourns late Monday night.

Several projects were awarded state funds, two from traditional bond bills and one from funds in the capital budget, according to staff at the office of Sen. George Edwards.

A potential blockbuster economic win for Garrett County was an award of $1 million from the state’s capital budget for upgrades to the Adventure Sports Center International. The work will allow the site to host the Deep Creek 2014: International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom World Championships.

The contest could bring a $20 million economic impact to the county. The money will be used for planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction and capital equipping of ASCI. The project will include upgrading telecommunications and building new and upgrading existing infrastructure and facilities.

These improvements are necessary to fulfill the requirements and obligations necessary to host the championship, states the bond bill fact sheet.  

Other funds will come from an Appalachian Regional Commission grant.

Friends Aware received $100,000, with $50,000 each coming from the House and Senate, according to information provided by Edwards’ staff. Friends Aware is beginning a major building project. The project is expected to cost $2 million, organization leaders have said. About 60 percent of the funds would go to new construction and 40 percent to renovation. The current building lacks a sprinkler system.

Funds were not awarded this year for a new Allegany County animal shelter. It is not unusual for some bond bill requests not to go through on their first attempt. Money had not been previously requested from the state for the new shelter. The Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation is raising funds for a new animal shelter, expected to cost $2.5 million. In state bond bills for 2012, the Allegany Museum received $150,000 and Friends Aware received $250,000.

The I-68 speed limit bill, sponsored by Edwards, would have allowed the speed limit on the interstate in Maryland to be increased from a maximum of 65 mph to 70 mph.

It’s the first time Edwards has introduced the speed limit bill, staff at his office said. Edwards wants to allow the speed limit to be raised to 70 mph by transportation officials, not necessarily for the whole length of the highway. The current top speed limit on the highway is 65 mph, although there are some areas where the limit is as low as 40 mph. At the West Virginia border, the interstate speed limit increases to 70, where it continues through the rest of its length in that state.

The bill received unfavorable reports by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Also failing to make it out of committee was a bill designed to toughen penalties for juveniles who make false statements about a destructive device or toxic materials. It would require that in such cases, some juveniles be prosecuted as adults. The bill was designed to help authorities cope with a rash of bomb threats at area schools.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com. Staff writer Elaine Blaisdell contributed to this story.

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