Leaders from the Fix 270 Now coalition met on a hill overlooking the clogged interstate in Germantown on Monday to advocate for state funding to study — and then fix — congestion on the important Frederick-Montgomery corridor.
“Welcome to the land of innovation, and also welcome to the land of gridlock,” said Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice (D), who represents the Germantown area.
The road carries 79,400 vehicles a day on the north end near Frederick to 261,200 vehicles a day near the Beltway, according to the state Department of Transportation. By the year 2035, the state estimates those numbers will increase to 107,000 to 290,000, vehicles, respectively, per day.
“Fix 270 Now” is a newly formed bipartisan coalition of civic, business, community and elected leaders focused on pushing for state and federal support for a comprehensive plan to reduce congestion between Frederick and the Capital Beltway.
Several Frederick County officials attended Monday’s announcement, including Dels. Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, and Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A.
Krimm is a member of the I-270 Caucus in the General Assembly. She said the counties could take ideas from her recent vacation spot, Amsterdam, where lanes and shoulders are opened up during rush hour to ease bottlenecks.
Delegates Bill Folden, R-District 3B, and Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, and Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, also support the coalition, along with the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and County Council President Bud Otis (unaffiliated) spoke at Monday’s press conference.
Gardner called I-270 “the high-technology corridor in Maryland” and said that the important economic engine will help the counties work together.
Otis said the importance of improvements to the road “transcends normal politics” and will bring the counties together.
Lawmakers said the total cost of a comprehensive I-270 plan between the American Legion Bridge and Frederick would cost billions.
As a first step, the coalition wants the state to revive two transportation studies which they said were moldering on a shelf.
The studies, the group said, date back to 1994 and could provide the analysis necessary to identify the best alternatives for congestion solutions.
Possibilities include high-occupancy toll lanes and high-speed regional bus rapid transit, according to the coalition and the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance. Such a multi-modal approach could improve rush hour traffic by up to 87 percent, according to the coalition.
The projects would be supported mostly by tolls with possible bond funding, according to the coalition.
Richard Parsons, vice chair of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, said the coalition will work to advance both short-term and long-term solutions. He supports the $100 million I-270 Innovative Congestion Management Project, touted by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) earlier this summer.
That competitive project will award contracts to plans for reducing congestion and delays along the 35-mile I-270 corridor short of widening the existing paved surface.
Frederick Alderman Josh Bokee said Monday that he reached out to Congressman John Delaney, chair of the coalition, for help in drafting a resolution of support that could be considered by the city’s Board of Aldermen.
Staff writer Nancy Lavin contributed to this report.