Lawmakers from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are hoping to derail Hogan’s controversial highway widening plan. (Shutterstock)
SILVER SPRING, MD — Two days before a key vote on Gov. Larry Hogan’s ambitious plan to widen Interstate 270 and the Beltway, a group of lawmakers from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties gathered in Silver Spring and demanded that the state Board of Public Works pump the brakes before making any long-term decisions.
At a press conference on Monday, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich urged the three-person public works board to reject the highway widening plan, saying it would make congestion on roads worse, not better, according to multiple news outlets.
"I didn’t spend a dozen years planning and working on a bus rapid transit network in Montgomery County because I wanted to see this place more congested," Elrich said, per Bethesda Beat.
Hogan’s transportation plan would include adding toll lanes to Interstate 270 and the Beltway in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. The plan relies on a public-partnership — meaning private developers will build, finance, and maintain the lanes. However, making room for these toll lanes, according to local officials and multiple media outlets, would call for demolishing possibly dozens of homes and several businesses. Estimated cost for the project: up to $11 billion.
The public works board — which consists of Hogan, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot — is scheduled to vote on the partnership Wednesday, the magazine reported. According to Hogan, the partnership will provide commuters much-needed traffic congestion relief.
And while everyone can get on board with less traffic, opponents say Hogan’s plan is flawed and that they have offered alternative solutions.
Maryland Matters reported that those proposed solutions, according to one Montgomery County official, have been ignored.
"We are 100 percent for congestion relief," said Councilmember Tom Hucker, chairman of the county’s Council Transportation Committee. "But (the Maryland Department of Transportation’s) process has shut us out. They have not accepted our recommendations to make their proposal workable."
Recommendations include widening the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac River and on Interstate 270 and reversible lanes between Gaithersburg and Frederick, according to Bethesda Beat.
In addition to holding a press conference on Monday, 59 lawmakers from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties wrote a letter to the Board of Public Works, asking them to delay approval of the project.