Traffic

Traffic on Northbound 270 near Interstate 70.

Frederick County residents will have several chances in November to give their opinions and get information about a state plan to reduce congestion on Interstate 270 by adding toll lanes.

Maryland’s State Highway Administration will hold four meetings next month, including two in Frederick County, for staff to provide information about the project.

The project would add lanes — likely toll lanes — to the road in an effort to reduce congestion along the busy highway that runs between Frederick and the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County.

The workshops are part of early planning activities before the start of an environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as a chance to review current and future traffic, road, and environmental conditions, according to an SHA release.

They’ll include an overview of the pre-NEPA and NEPA processes, and the transportation needs of the corridor from Interstate 70 in Frederick to Interstate 370, near Gaithersburg.

The two Frederick County workshops will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Lincoln Recreation Center at Lincoln Elementary School in Frederick, 200 Madison St., and Nov. 20 at Urbana Fire Department Banquet Hall, 3602 Urbana Pike in Urbana.

Each workshop will include a brief presentation at 7 p.m.

Workshops will also be held Nov. 12 in Clarksburg and Nov. 21 in Gaithersburg.

The state’s Board of Public Works designated the project as a public-private partnership in June, meaning the toll lanes would be designed, built and operated by a private company, with the state getting some of the toll revenue.

Terry Owens, a State Highway Administration spokesman for the project, said the agency is looking to share information about the project, as well as encouraging people to come with their own proposals.

“We’re looking for ideas as we try to find solutions for traffic congestion,” Owens said.

He encouraged people to visit the website for the program for information before the meetings.

The NEPA is a federal law that requires federal agencies to do studies to make sure proper consideration is given to projects that could affect the environment. The Federal Highway Administration is working with the state on a managed lane study for the project.

The pre-NEPA activities include identifying the project’s purpose and need, developing a range of alternatives, reviewing current and future traffic volumes and environmental conditions, and engaging the public.

Owens said they expect the pre-NEPA process to take about a year to finish.

Under the state’s current plan, the bottom section of I-270, from near Shady Grove to Interstate 495, would be built first. The section from I-370 to I-70 would follow.

State Del. Ken Kerr (D-Frederick), whose district includes the upper portions of I-270 in Frederick County, said he hasn’t heard a lot about I-270 from his constituents, but many of those he has heard from are losing patience with the lack of progress along I-270 and would like to see something done.

Kerr said he would like to see more emphasis on transit to get more cars off the road rather than making the road larger.

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.

(8) comments

wran

This is what is needed. Lots of lanes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqK4gC7LlHU

petersamuel

Wran: That's I-405 the only north-south (N-S) highway that goes the length of the LA metro area. Up to 350,000 vehicles/day average, much of it 2x5 lanes. All free lanes, so there's no way of managing congestion except entry ramp metering... and that gets overhwelmed with backups. That is probably LA's worst. Fortunately 270 isn't LA's 405. DC metro area is less than half the population of LA and we can split the N-S traffic between 95, BW Pkwy and 270. Plus the plan is not to add free lanes like LA's 405 but toll lanes where the price (toll rate) will be varied to prevent entering volumes from causing the density of traffic getting to the point where the traffic slows. So 405 is a good example of what we shouldn't do. We need managed lanes. Politically that means the extra lanes must be tolled, while keeping the existing lanes free and sometimes congested -- but less severely than now.

dcmetro

Why is it that Northern Virginia can move much more quickly with road construction than suburban Maryland? Not too long ago I was reading that there was a plan developing to add toll lanes to I-66 and they are already well underway with construction. It seems like I hear nothing but years of frustration from Maryland drivers and nothing ever seems to get done.

MrSniper

No Lexus lanes for the rich!

petersamuel

But actuallly they aren't Lexus lanes. When you look at the vehicle types in toll lanes they are about the same cross section of vehicle types as the free lanes. IOt turns out that lower income people often need, and are prepared to pay for the quick trip more than some rich people. They can suffer greater penalties for being late. So it's simply not the case in the 50 or so toll lanes projects operating around the country that they are only used by the rich. Lexus Lanes is a clever slogan for opposing toll lanes but it doesn't describe the reality of who uses them. For nearly 20 years I reported on these projects for tollroadsnews.com and I followed all the arguments and studies and reports.

petersamuel

Mr Kerr: the best way to improve transit for Frederick County commuters is to provide free flow for buses in the new toll lanes on 270. With those lanes priced to limit traffic so the lanes can flow freely even in peak hours transit buses from Frederick City will be at Shady Grove Metro by the time the MARC from Frederick is at Point of Rocks. And let's be realistic. Regardless of what officials and planners want, the people will choose the mode that suits them best. And so automobiles are likely to remain the dominant mode because in a low density county like Frederick transit is impossible to provide economically with dispersed trip origins and dispersed destinations. And let's remember that whereas the MARC rail works for a tiny minority of commuters to jobs in downtown DC, 270 is an all-purpose, all-modes corridor that services all kinds of travel, not just commuting. It moves tradesmen and their tools, people going to doctors, sports fans, visits to friends and family and lots of freight. If private enterprise will put up the money for the toll lanes almost everyone will benefit.

DickD

We no longer are going to use taxes to build roads. Okay, how are the gasoline taxes going to spent? Just one more instance of Republicans lining pockets of those that contribute to their election campaigns.

Reader1954

unless metro is extended to Frederick or more commuter trains, both of which are not going to happen, then more lanes are the only solution. If you keep building houses you are going to have to keep building lanes

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