DG I-270 Hot lanes 2 (copy)

Traffic is shown looking north on Interstate 270 from the Shady Grove Road overpass in Rockville.

An ambitious plan to build toll lanes along Interstates 270 and 495 is expected to be the dominant transportation issue in the upcoming General Assembly session.

“That’s really the big one,” said Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll), of the project that has drawn both support from residents and officials concerned with traffic and congestion on the busy highways, and opposition from those concerned about the impact it would have the environment and on communities in parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The plan proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) would add toll lanes on I-270 and I-495 as part of a public-private partnership, in which developers and private funding would pay for the project in exchange for a share of the revenue that the toll lanes generate.

Hough said he believes the project may be in significant danger this session, as a variety of forces align against it.

Hogan canceled a Board of Public Works meeting scheduled for this past Wednesday after Comptroller Peter Franchot announced concerns about the project.

Two bills from last session that could impact the P3 project are expected to resurface this year.

One would prohibit the Maryland Transportation Authority or any other state agency from building a toll road, highway, or bridge without the consent of a majority of the counties that would be affected by the project.

The other would prohibit the Board of Public Works from approving P3 agreements until environmental impact statements are done, and require a survey of the credit rating of the private companies being considered fro the project, the impact of a proposed agreement on the credit rating of the state and any local government, and a recommendation of the minimum credit rating that the private partner and a private funding source would have to maintain, among other provisions.

The P3 project “will probably have a lot of visibility” during the session, agreed Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll).

He said he looks forward to working with his colleagues in the Frederick and Montgomery delegations on the issue.

Traffic congestion is a growing problem in Frederick County, getting worse as the county grows, Pippy said.

“It impacts people’s quality of life,” he said.

Pippy also said he thinks the Frederick delegation is unanimous in finding ways to address the issue of U.S. 15 through the city of Frederick, an issue that’s been identified by the county as its main transportation priority.

Del. Carol Krimm (D-Frederick), the vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation and the Environment Subcommittee, said she’d like to see proposals to expand I-270 balanced with efforts to improve transit, such as commuter bus and ways to enhance MARC service.

Commuter buses would get the advantage of additional lanes on I-270 if the P3 project is built.

Democratic legislators see the P3 project more skeptically, echoing some of the concerns from Montgomery County about environmental risks and the taking of property for the project.

Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) said she thinks legitimate questions have been raised about the real costs of the project and how it will be paid for.

Lewis Young believes that expanding roads leads to more traffic.

“We really need to start looking at things more holistically,” she said.

Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) said he expects to see lots of bills regarding transportation issues filed this session, including some to promote transit.

The state needs to maintain its roads, but it also needs to understand that you can’t build your way out of the congestion problem, Young said.

They need to look at transit, as well as bikeable and walkable communities, he said.

“We’ve got to think beyond just building a road,” he said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter:

@RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(9) comments

Ruthcf

270 north is the way to go.

But, no one sees that

DickD

Build more roads and more people will come, especially as Amazon ramps up in northern Virginia. That will drive up the cost of real estate. More schools, more people.

MrSniper

I don’t understand why some people insist more lanes on 270 won’t alleviate traffic. Going north, 270 goes from 3 lane to 2...it is always congested by noon. Build out 270, at least 3 lanes wide all the way into Frederick. Use tax dollars. That’s precisely why we pay them. Our community doesn’t want Lexus lanes for the rich.

gabrielshorn2013

Adding more lanes WILL alleviate traffic mrsniper. However, it is only a short term fix. "Build it and they will come" comes to mind. Rail options are limited, because there are only so many slots to safely insert passenger trains on the CSX tracks, unless more, and very expensive rail lines are built. As long as the cost of commuting, in both money and time, are a cost commuters are willing to bear, this will be a perpetual problem. This can be coupled to the cost of housing. Increased demand without a proportional increase in supply will drive real estate prices up, making affordable housing impossible for low income residents.

jsklinelga

jamesnee took a position, I suppose ,as a climate activist that this is not a good idea as new modes of transportation are developing. Good. When I saw this i wondered how many climate activist would fervently object. You would think there would be thousands of people demonstrating daily outside the State Capital. But we all know better. For it easier to blame others than ourselves. I wonder how many folks sit in stalled traffic on a regular basis and "fume" about climate change.

niceund

Thanks Maryland...still more money drained from the pockets of residents.

KR999

Are you saying that you think our taxes are going to go up because of this long overdue project?

DickD

Not so much because of road costs as the result of more roads.

jamesnee

In the last some four years, coal has been popularly promoted by the current administration as the energy of the future: we now know that alternative energies are the present and the future, mainly being implemented worldwide, at this time, more so than in the United States. America will follow suit, though, as Hydrogen and Advanced Battery technology take center stage this coming year, 2020. Therefore, this may not be the right time to advance old transportation ideas too fervently. Entirely new infrastructure concepts may need be considered in order to simply not create more obsolete traveling conditions.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominem criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.