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O'Malley can tour the town that would have been

April 17, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

Well, they once considered Williamsport as the site for the nation's capital, so why would it be odd that the State of Maryland has decided to make Hagerstown the capital of the state for a day?

Let me count the ways.

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced this week that, as part of the new Capital for a Day program, the state will hold office in eight cities around the state in an effort to "bring the state government to the people."

Bring the government to us? Please, don't do us any favors. Out here, we work to keep away from government, and the thought of it breathing down our neck right here in our own backyard makes everything go a bit black.

But be that as it may, first up on the block, representing Western Maryland is Hagerstown, on May 8.

Hey, look on the bright side: At least they didn't announce that the meeting would be held in Martinsburg, W.Va. This demonstrates a familiarity with state borders west of Frederick that, frankly, I didn't think Annapolis types had in them.

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I wonder if John Bohanan Jr. is coming?

I can see the appeal of meeting all around the state. I bet there's a Guinness World Records mark they have their eye on, like the record for raising taxes in the most number of locations.

And, by all accounts, Hagerstown seems pleased to have the governor and his cabinet come to town.

"We're going to be showcasing all of our assets," Hagerstown Community Affairs Director Karen Giffin said.

So what are they going to do for the other seven hours and 50 minutes left in the workday? I mean, really, after Penny Nigh, where do you go from there?

Yes, governor, this is where the Rochester House used to be, this is where the roundhouse used to be, this is the street that we didn't name after Willie Mays, this is where the hospital would have been by now if we'd gotten our act together sooner, this is what's left of the City Light plant ..."

Oh, and across the street? That lovely forest you see was planted a decade ago to screen the "project of a generation" from public view. What was that project supposed to be? Uh, we forget. But in another two centuries, it will make everyone forget the redwoods.

While they're here, I just hope someone shows them Robinwood Drive at rush hour. Of course, if you're used to Baltimore traffic, Edgewood Drive might seem like the Old Chisholm Trail.

Speaking of which, we could drive them to the old stone Funkstown bridge. I'm sure they would like to see the source of our delegation's taxpayer-funded "economic study" to see whether, indeed, drivers have to cross the bridge if they wish to get to a business on the other side of the crick.

While there, we can show them where the Southern Bypass should have been by now. Then, we can have them stand out on Interstate 81 and dodge tractor-trailers to show why there has been no particular urgency for widening the highway to six lanes.

There is a solution to all our transportation needs, and while the cabinet is here, the state government could put it into place. The problem is that all of Washington County's share of the gasoline-tax-funded transportation fund is going to the $2.4 billion Intercounty Connector, linking I-270 in Gaithersburg to I-95 in Laurel. So obviously, the answer is instead of terminating the Intercounty Connector in Gaithersburg, keep it going to Robinwood, up I-81 and back to Funkstown. It can be the Intercounty/Funkstown Bridge Connector. Sure, it might cost a few extra billion, but what's that to the State of Maryland, Hagerstown branch?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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