State officials, Eastern Panhandle lawmakers discuss funding fix for MARC

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith led transportation officials and lawmakers from Charleston to the Eastern Panhandle Thursday to discuss a funding fix for the MARC train that serves Jefferson and Berkeley Counties.

The state of Maryland is asking West Virginia for $3.2 million per year to keep trains running to the Martinsburg, Duffields and Harpers Ferry stations.

Smith spoke to county councils in Jefferson and Berkeley counties Wednesday, saying Maryland is looking to resolve the funding issue at the end of their legislative session which is around mid-March.

He tells WEPM News that the counties are very much aware of the importance of the situation but securing funds will be a challenge.

“I think we’re encouraged in a sense that they recognize the need to contribute,” Smith said. “The hard part about this is nobody got extra money. We’re going to have to find that money somewhere if we’re going to have the service continue.”

In response to Smith’s presentation, Berkeley County Council Council President Doug Copenhaver replied: “I hear you. But how do we get there?”

Smith said people in the region will feel the effect if something isn’t done.

“If we don’t step up and find a way publically to fund it, and there may be room for private investment too, that we stand at risk of losing the service,” he said.

The council told Smith that a discussion regarding how it can contribute will be apart of an agenda sooner than later.

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