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O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money

Today, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed the transportation funding bill that passed the legislature this year. The governor also announced a list of projects that would get some of the money, including MARC expansion and studies for the Purple Line and Baltimore Red Line.

Photo by the author.

The tax will start this summer, and will help fund transportation projects across the state. The increased tax was a key part of O'Malley's 2013 legislative agenda, and is expected to generate $800 million more for transportation each year.

After the governor signed the bill, his office released a list of "first round" projects that will get some of the increased revenues. This list totals $1.2 billion, but over the first 6 years, the tax should generate $4.4 billion.

Of the $1.2 billion, $650 million (54%) will go to transit. However, a large portion of that funds studies rather than actual construction. Money will go to MARC to add weekend service on the Penn Line and 2 new weekday roundtrips on the Camden Line, and to purchase new locomotives.

Here is the full list.

Transit projects:

  • $100 million for MARC enhancements, including Penn Line weekend service, 2 new Camden Line weekday roundtrips, and new locomotives.
  • $280 million for final design for the Purple Line.
  • $170 million for final design for the Red Line in Baltimore.
  • $100 million for final design for the Corridor Cities Transitway in Montgomery County.
Road projects:
  • $125 million for construction of an interchange between I-270 and Watkins Mill Road in Montgomery County.
  • $100 million for construction of an interchange at Kerby Hill Road and Indian Head Highway in Prince George's.
  • $49 million for widening US 29 to three lanes from Seneca Drive to MD 175 in Howard County.
  • $82 million for construction of an interchange on US 15 at Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick.
  • $20 million for design of a new Thomas Johnson Bridge between Calvert and St. Mary's counties.
  • $60 million for reconstruction of in interchange at I-695 and Leeds Avenue in Baltimore County.
  • $44 million for BRAC-related construction near Aberdeen Proving Ground.
  • $54 million for construction of a new interchage on US 301 at MD 304 on the Eastern Shore.
Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


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by Alan B. on May 16, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

Just give me some way to get back to DC via MARC after a night game at Camden Yards and I'll be happy.

by MetroDerp on May 16, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

Just a small a quible on your choice of the word "studies." Studies implies that they're thinking about doing something, i.e. second metro tunnel, a lot of the money is actually for final design of these projects. That's a HUGE difference. You can't break ground and/or get federal funding without it.

by jj on May 16, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

I think many of these projects have merit, however i'm unsure the benefit of two projects: I-695 at Leeds Avenue (Southwestern Blvd), and 301 at 304. That intersection with Leeds Avenue is a one directional interchange that I don't see as likely to change, due to the close proximity to 695 at 95 interchange in Catonsville, and caries very few vehicles. Likewise 301 at 304 doesn't register to me as worthy of that kind of money, i'd like to see Queen Anne's Co investment instead go to US 50 at 213 and 50 at 404, both major beach traffic bottlenecks. It still smells like political posturing/favoritism has crept into this process, though I should expect as much.

by Gull on May 16, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

Looks like that Watkins Mill Road interchange at I-270 is pretty much ready to go, lol.

by Nick on May 16, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

Weekend Marc service. Sweet.

by aaa on May 16, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

Shockingly, I think both the road AND the transit improvements have merit! I wish that US 29 widening was for all the sections where it randomly drops from 3 lanes to 2, but this is a start. Only thing I would have liked is some reverse trips on the Brunswick Line, but I know that it's gonna take more money to give CSX what they want to make it happen. Hopefully the second round....

by Justin..... on May 16, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

Also, double post, but the Frederick US-15 and Monocacy Blvd interchange is probably a good idea.

That intersection is basically uncontrolled right now and pretty dangerous. Making a left turn from southbound 15 onto Mono is into oncoming 55+ mph traffic. And a lot of people make that turn, because Mono is like a mini-parkway/beltway around Frederick, which has had booming housing development.

by Nick on May 16, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

Any word on when these weekend Penn Line trains are going to run? Any weekend service is welcome, but it'd be nice to have trains in the evening for people who are going to DC for fun times...

by jfruh on May 16, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the weekend Penn Line service is expected to start this winter.

Draft schedules likely won't be available for a while. And MTA will have to work with Amtrak to get slots, so there's probably either discussion going on or starting soon.

by Matt Johnson on May 16, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

Finally beginning to implement the MARC long term plan. Weekend Penn service and midday Camden service were supposed to be rolled out by 2008. Only 5 years late, not bad!

by Richard Bourne on May 16, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport


In their defense, there have been a disproportionate number of accidents at that junction. When I went to QACHS, that was the reason my school bus never used it even tho the first stop was right by the 301/305 junction. This is why partially reconstructed it be right in, U-Turn for left/thru. (Tho I remember it being explicitly stated at the time it was only a temporary solution)

But yea, US 50 at 213 probably should be higher on the list since 301/304 was reconstructed very recently. Isn't it (and 50/404 interchange) tied to the six lane widening of 50 project? Are required studies/etc not ready?

by Jared Christian on May 16, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

I am really glad they put out this list, love it or hate it, it at least gives the taxpayers an idea of what they are getting for their money.
The next step would be for SHA/MDOT to post this list, plus the ones that are already underway or already funded, to avoid confusion.

by Joe in SS on May 16, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

Nice .... nothing west of Frederick, not surprised, they'll take the money, then poof. And the fact that the furthest west you go, the more republican, guess we're being punished.

by coneyraven on May 16, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

Are there lots of capacity problems west of Frederick?

by MLD on May 16, 2013 4:24 pm • linkreport

The $100 million for MARC includes buying new locomotives. Anyone heard what locomotives MARC is planning to purchase? Probably more diesels, but there have been discussions on Amtrak forums with the roll-out of the first ACS-64 electrics, as to what MARC plans are. MARC has 4 aging AEM-6DC units and 6 HHP-8s, both types Amtrak will be retiring from Amtrak's service. MARC might lease some remanufactured AEM-7ACs or discarded HHP-8s from Amtrak. Or piggyback on the Amtrak ACS-64 order. Just curious if someone here has heard what MARC's plans are - now that MARC has some money.

Weekend MARC service is good news and should boost weekend travel from DC to Baltimore.

by AlanF on May 16, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

250,000 people live west of Frederick or 4% of the state, so don't expect too much but something should come, but not every jurisdiction is going to get something right away.

by Richard Bourne on May 16, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

Alan - Locomotives are deisels. They will be ordered this summer. I imagine they have to take bids.

The Camden Line will add one trip this fall. The other is "targeted for spring 2014 pending negotiations with CSX and Bombardier."

On the Penn Line, MTA is already in "initial negotiations" with Amtrak.

All this according to fact sheets distributed at the signing this morning.

by Ben Ross on May 16, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

@Richard Bourne - You may not have noticed, but there was a little hiccup in the economy between 2008 and today that led to a dramatic decrease in funds available for transportation projects. Several parts of the 2007 MARC Growth and Investment Plan as well as other projects were delayed until funding could be identified to continue them. An draft updated plan was circulated in March, but the following projects have progressed:

+ Construction of a mid-day layover yard in Washington, DC
+ Track work, including construction of the PEPCo, Cloppers, and Hanson interlockings
+ Overhaul or replacement of 26 diesel locomotives
+ Station improvements at Edgewood and Halethorpe

It is certainly not everything we wanted, and many of these projects aren't highly visible, but they will contribute to long-term improvements in MARC service.

More good news: The 26 oldest single-level coaches (MARC IIA) will be retired as delivery of additional bi-level coaches continues. (The 34 newer single-level MARC IIB cars were just refurbished last year.)

by Stanton Park on May 16, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

@Stanton Park
Yes I am aware that late is better than never. I am well aware of the economic collapse, I lost my job in 2010 and ended up doing the Balt to DC commute every day on MARC to get my masters. I no longer take the Penn line every day but I still ride Camden from time to time. Now I am once again employed but still cannot wait to have more MARC service.

by Richard Bourne on May 16, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

@coneyraven - The original MARC Growth and Investment Plan (see linlk above), had phased improvements in the Brunswick Line, including:

+ Adding 200 seats by replacing single-level cars with bi-level cars and adding cars to short train sets by 2010;
+ Adding 3,800 seats by doubling the amount of service on the Frederick branch by 2015;
+ Adding 8,400 seats by decreasing peak headways to 15-20 minutes, increased off-peak service, and limited reverse-commute service by 2020; and
+ Reverse commute and weekend service by 2035.

Unfortunately, adding additional trains requires the cooperation of CSX. This is significant obstacle for off-peak and reverse commute trips as CSX bans freight traffic on any track with a passenger train on it. This self-imposed rule means the cost for CSX to consent to additional trains is adding another track, which is massively expensive. The MARC plan did call for adding some additional track in key areas, but CSX never signed off on the plan. The limiting factor has not been a willingness on MARC's part but expensive demands by CSX.

by Stanton Park on May 16, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport


Regarding Leeds Avenue, other sources include "bridge replacement" in the same breath as the $60 million. I suspect this will be to replace the inner loop bridge there (outer loop was replaced a few years ago) and not a massive reworking of the intersection.

Street view shows old vs. new bridge clearly:

by Mainland on May 16, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

I'm curious to know how much money has spent on Purple Line planning already - I've been hearing about since I was in college (late 90's!)

by grumpy on May 16, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport

OMG! Weekend commuter rail, just like in a real city!

by Payton on May 16, 2013 6:35 pm • linkreport

@Stanton Park, other advances since 2008 include 3 NEC fully funded PE/NEPA studies: $60 million for the B&P Tunnel replacement, $9.4 million for BWI station and 4th track, and $22 million for the Susquehanna Bridge replacement (with 4 tracks). While these are not construction contracts, they will complete the alternative analysis, EIS, design/route decision process and result in a defined project with a price tag. Getting the funding to get to just the EIS and PE stage can be a big hurdle for transit projects.

The NEC Future study to cover planning for the entire NEC is also a process that was not in place in 2008.

by AlanF on May 16, 2013 6:40 pm • linkreport

Was kind of hoping for Camden service at Orioles' games, even weekends/daytime. Ah well, I don't suppose it's all that important.

I'm really glad Governor O'Malley is working to actually use the gas tax to fund transit. Bob McDonnel, on the other hand...

by ImThat1Guy on May 16, 2013 7:25 pm • linkreport


My informal research indicates that the three counties west of Frederick have about 252,000 people in them.

Considering there are 5.85 million people in Maryland, or 4.3%. Those three counties should get about 51million. My guess is that there are no pressing needs in those counties, so they looked at the most neglected needs, and funded those first. Either way, these projects will benefit people from those three counties, whether you are driving to the beach or driving into Bethesda for business.

I am sure the next round will include projects in this region.

by Kyle-W on May 16, 2013 7:51 pm • linkreport


The new locomotives will all be diesels this time around (probably either MP36s or MP40s). The electric locomotives have been having major reliability issues and so they are wanting to replace them. MARC was bitten last time by the HHP-8 order, so they don't want to get any ACS-64s right now. If the ACS-64s prove reliable, it is certainly possible that MARC could place an order for some after the Amtrak order is finished in 2016. But, right now they want to concentrate on reliability. (This is based on a conversation I had with MARC's David Johnson)

by Brian on May 16, 2013 11:05 pm • linkreport

Sigh. Why do we need to spend another 450 million to plan the purple and red lines? Are they still not fully designed? How many billions do we need to spend to design two short light rail line each under 20 miles?

Does "design" include many more years of paying people to hand out flyers about these rail lines? Personally, I've been flyered to death. How many more millions have to be spent on tabling and marketing materials?

These are real questions... how much does it cost per mile to design a new light rail line?

Give me that 280 million for "design" and I'll just install the purple line myself.

by Tom A. on May 17, 2013 12:09 am • linkreport


Aside from rebuilding I-68 through Cumberland (rehab of which is currently underway) and widening I-70, is there really any pressing need west of Hagerstown? Based on my own experience in that area, I'd suggest the answer is "no".

by Froggie on May 17, 2013 12:45 am • linkreport

@Tom A:

Contrary to popular belief, design is not a fast process. It takes time, *VERY* detailed measurements...detailed utilities drawings...soil samples...lots of man-hours involved in preparing all of that. Then there's the environmental remediation and planning for that....where are you going to build replacement wetlands...storm retention will you build them...etc etc.

This is true for both road and rail projects. There is no getting around it. And the Purple Line planning needs to be *VERY* particular because there are those in Chevy Chase will pounce on any opportunity to sue to stop the project. Remember the lawsuits stopping DC freeway construction 40 years ago? Chevy Chase will do the same with the Purple Line given the opportunity.

by Froggie on May 17, 2013 12:51 am • linkreport

@ Stanton Park

Thanks for posting this. Richard Bourne's claim that MARC is only just now implementing the plan is totally false. In addition to your list, MARC also purchased additional bi-levels from VRE, and have 50 more new cars coming in fall. The biggest obstacles to MARC expansion have been the host railroads Amtrak (weekend service) and CSX (additional weekday trains).

@ Brian

I really hope the MTA reconsiders. It's a completely idiotic move to replace the current electrics with diesels. MARC boasts that they're the fastest commuter railroad in the nation, but that won't be true when they replace 125mph locomotives with 90mph ones. Operational costs are also lower with the electrics. If they don't want the "unproven" ACS-64, they can get the proven reliable ALP-46A that NJT uses.

by King Terrapin on May 17, 2013 2:03 am • linkreport

@Tom A.
"Final Design" essentially means blueprints.

Up to now, the planning process has looked at general locations. Like, where the Purple Line gets its own lane versus sharing with cars, Whether a station should be here or maybe a little bit to the west.

Final Design is much more detailed, and in that phase, things are worked out to the smallest detail. Once that's over, the line is ready for construction.

During the Final Design phase, the project can begin to purchase right-of-way and start moving utilities.

It's all a part of FTA's design and funding process. I can assure you that MTA is not repeating anything that has already been done. And through the past several steps, the project has continued to evolve. Once Final Design happens, it won't evolve any more. It will be designed.

FTA has produced a fact sheet about Final Design located here (.DOC):‎

by Matt Johnson on May 17, 2013 6:20 am • linkreport

This should put to rest the fake war on cars argument that right wingers make about smart growth. This simply what smart government should be. If you want to grow, make public investments on which a succesfull economy can grow (which by defenition must be sustainable). I agree with the endless Purple Line design studies, after more than a decade, don't they have this thing figured out? Why not study how to send it all the way into Georgetown and through to union station via the M-K street rounte? Infact, let's make that a circle line while we're at it...too much?

by Thayer-D on May 17, 2013 6:52 am • linkreport

Being myself and 2 other moms fought hard for the 30l/304 Overpass. We were very happy to find out OUR overpass will be fully funded. For those of you who do not know the area...let me educate you. We have had deaths in the double digits over the years, the last one being Connor Rice who was only 15 being driven to school by his brother. His father was a few cars back and got to witness the horror of his son being killed in front of him. Now. Let me explain what is at this intersection. We have an Extremely busy truck stop that is the only truck stop for hundreds of miles on a NON toll road, we have 4 county schools and two private ones down 304 so the school buses have to compete with the traffic to cross the highway (as well as the kids driving to school,parents, teachers etc), We also have at this corner QAC EMS, State Police Barracks, Centreville Manufacturing, and the bus depot where they gas up. So our intersection isn't just little country intersection. Its a Major Highway that OUR children have to cross to get to schools. So the state put in J turns (which are part of the Overpass project because they must give people a way to cross the road while the overpass is being built) The J turns are inadequate as when its busy there are cars/trucks and buses in the J turns backed up onto 301's fast lane. We have documented all of this. We spent a year and 8 months writing/calling/meeting with the State proving our point of this intersection being a safety issue. While some of you might think its a waste...My son rides a bus through that intersection. I happen to think he and all the other children of QAC that have to use this intersection are pretty important. I'm sure you would feel differently if it were your child on the bus.

by BarbB on May 17, 2013 7:11 am • linkreport

I hope that the new MARC locomotives will be the Siemens electric locos that AMtrak just started getting delivery on. These are good German locomotives put into an American spec frame.

There would be advantages in maintenance (and occasional loans) to operating the same locomotives as Amtrak on the Penn Line/NEC.

Best Hopes for More,


by Alan S. Drake on May 17, 2013 8:45 am • linkreport

@ grumpy and Tom A
The final planning includes the purchase of land, hence the large price tag. If you look at the purple line it is going to require more private properties to be purchased to get the right of way hence why it costs more.

The red line is far more complex, let costs less to make final designs because you dont have to buy land when you tunnel under it.

by Richard Bourne on May 17, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

From the comments from many, there seems to be a feeling that there are no pressing needs west of Frederick, WRONG!! The biggest project to boost the economy up here is the North/South Highway Project (US 219 in Garrett, US 220 in Allegany) that will connect the PA Turnpike with Corridor H in West Virginia ..... there are many that feel that this will help to restore the economoy of the poorest county in the state, Allegany. Instead, the feeling here is that now the poorest county in the state is helping to subsidize a project in the wealthiest county ... You can say it'll help those up here when they go to the metro areas, but truth be told, people in the far west DON'T GO to the metro areas (most are seniors). I mean, can you honstly say that people in Allegany or Garrett will be riding the Purple Line? Not hardly, unless they're transit geeks like myself ... People up here are already suspicious of Annapolis, and the "corn-holing" that occurred with District 6 only reinforces that perception -- the perception here is, the rest of Maryland thinks the state ends at Hagerstown, and really doesn't give a crap about anything west of there --- Allegany Co is just a bathroom break to the lake.

by coneyraven on May 17, 2013 10:27 am • linkreport


So the counties with 250,000 want a billion dollar project in their counties because they will be paying an extra dime a gallon. That is rich.

I really don't care if people from Allegany will be riding the Purple Line. The point is, your population indicates that there should be about 51 million in extra funding. That means you get some repaving and a new interchange, not a new highway through the middle of nowhere. Maryland has so much more pressing needs than propping up the poorest county in the state with huge subsidies from the rest of the state in the form of a highway to nowhere.

If your 51 million can pay for Maryland's portion, and PA and WV want to foot the rest, then go ahead, but to assume that the rest of the state should have to foot this thing is a bit outlandish.

by Kyle-w on May 17, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

The poorest county in the state probably isn't contributing much to the tax base then.

by Alan B. on May 17, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

@Alan S. Drake

I was hoping the same thing, but it looks like they're getting diesels. Dumb move.

by King Terrapin on May 17, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Interestingly there was a discussion on here about a week ago about MD and VA needing to do their fair share to help the poor in the region. But in today's discussion the theme seems to be MD shouldn't bother investing in poor counties. Why the reversal?

by Chris S. on May 17, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

But in today's discussion the theme seems to be MD shouldn't bother investing in poor counties. Why the reversal?

I'm not going to speak for others who may have made that inference. But I'd ask what the pressing need is out there transportation wise? And then, why should it get priority over the projects listed? Besides the Eastern Shore is pretty rural and they are getting some projects.

by drumz on May 17, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

The three poorest counties in MD are:
Somerset $16,919 $42,443 26,470
Allegany $20,764 $37,747 75,087
Baltimore City $23,333 $39,386 620,961

With those numbers being Per Capita, Median Household, and then population. Taxes and cost of living being higher in the city as well as the much larger population have to figure highly on the decision. So the poor are getting something, as the Red-line will benefit Baltimore City the most, followed by rich Balt County and Howard County.

Still this is only the beginning, just because one jurisdiction didn't get all the money it asked for doesn't mean it never will.

Another thing to point out though is that while East of Hagerstown only has 4% of the states population it has a disproportionate amount of improved highway already. Those roads have to be maintained and some of them being in the mountains make maintaining them more expensive. A large part of the gas tax is not only for building new infrastructure but for maintaining what is already there.

by Richard Bourne on May 17, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

The "poorer" regions aren't that congested anyway, and I think that's the major point of the reinvestments.

btw for anyone wondering, the new weekend Penn Line service (both Saturday and Sunday) service on the MARC Penn Line will be between Baltimore and DC only (with trains originating at Martin State Airport).

Current plans are to operate nine round trips a day between 9 AM and 9 PM on an approximately two hour headway but the final schedule is dependent upon successful negotiations with Amtrak. Service will begin this fall.

by King Terrapin on May 17, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

Finally weekend MARC service... this was long overdue.

by Jacksom on May 17, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

"Interestingly there was a discussion on here about a week ago about MD and VA needing to do their fair share to help the poor in the region. But in today's discussion the theme seems to be MD shouldn't bother investing in poor counties. Why the reversal? "

1. Md, which has (IIUC) better social services for the poor than Va does, is helping the poor in those poor counties who are eligible for those social services. Indeed in NoVa, one of the arguments for NOT sharing the DC burden, is that NoVa contributes alot to education in the poor rural counties of Virginia

But helping the poor is not equivalent to helping poor counties. There are certainly non-poor people in the poor counties.

2. I don't see anyone suggesting that Md not invest in transport in western Md. Just that they have made some significant investments there in the past, and that the need now is in the metro areas. And the major project W MD is asking for is quite big, out of proportion to the revenues in those areas, and not needed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 17, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport


As a roadgeek with extensive road experience across the area, there just isn't the demand for major improvements out in western Maryland. Scarce transportation dollars should go to where the traffic and condition needs are greatest..."economic development" is not a need. You can convince me that 220 south to Keyser is in need of improvements, and 68 through Cumberland definitely should be rebuilt, but for the traffic they get, 220 north and 219 are very adequate. Meanwhile, you have junctions on the Eastern Shore that have serious safety issues (hence the 301/304 interchange project) and *NUMEROUS* roads in and around DC, Baltimore, and Frederick that are horrendously congested. I'm sure there's a few bridges out there in need of replacement too (one of the projects listed is design for a sorely-needed drawbridge replacement on the Eastern Shore).

by Froggie on May 17, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport


Maryland just offered to complete Pennsylvania's study for the US 219 expansion. See this link:

I understand that ADHS funds would be used to complete this study. It is a separate pot of money, special to complete the Applachian Corridors.

I recommend patience. A four lane highway that ends abruptly at the state line serves no purpose. A road cannot be built if it has not been planned, and Maryland in fact is trying to move the road forward by planning it out. It even is doing something unprecedented - planning the PA portion of the road for PA.

by Murn on May 17, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Gull and @Mainland I actually live less than 500yards from the Leeds Ave/Rt1 overpass work so this has kinda been something I've been following. Currently Leeds Ave has a ramp which connects to NB I-695/Inner Loop which seems like a fine and dandy thing for local residents who don't want to travel north to Wilkens Ave. The problem is that this ramp is the closest I-695 access point for commuters using the Halethorpe MARC station. So in the 15-20min or so after each northbound train leaves in the evening those folks flood in to downtown Arbutus and fill up the entirty of Leeds Ave, Linden Ave and often East Dr as well

The proposed project is going to eliminate the existing Leeds Ave ramp and shift it over to US-1/Southwestern Blvd which runs parrallel to Leeds Ave. In doing so you take commuer traffic off the local 2-lane street and put it back on the semi-arterial 4-lane highway with the added bonus of adding actual medians to US-1 and rehabbing the Inner Loop bridge at the same time.

The SHA project page can be found here:

You can find a project map as well (warning VERY large file)

by Greg on May 18, 2013 7:58 pm • linkreport

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