Work should begin this fall on a $100 million project aimed at relieving congestion on Interstate 270 through Frederick and Montgomery counties.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the plans for the project at a news conference Wednesday while overlooking the interstate near Rockville.
The project will provide “real-time, dynamic traffic management” along the I-270 corridor, Hogan said.
When the improvements are finished, they are expected to save up to 30 minutes for commuters who get on the highway in Frederick County in the morning and head south, Hogan said.
It calls for using technology such as more than 25 signs to relay real-time traffic information, and more than 30 intelligent signals that planners believe will combine to help manage traffic along the I-270 corridor, along with adding 23 new lane miles along the highway.
Design work has already started on the improvements, with construction work expected to start in the fall. The project is expected to be finished by 2019.
It combines work by 16 companies, many of which have offices in Maryland, but none in Frederick County.
I-270, which runs more than 34 miles from Interstate 70 in Frederick to Interstate 495 in Montgomery County, handles from 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles a day at various points. Those numbers are expected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles a day by 2030, according to the State Highway Administration.
The project will use technology to help improve the flow of traffic, including sensors in the road and cameras to help manage the flow of traffic on the interstate and surrounding roads.
That equipment could help regulate the flow of traffic from entrance ramps onto the highway to control traffic, said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar.
It could also include traffic signals that can communicate with one another to identify spots with high congestion and provide longer green lights to help thin it out, he said.
Hogan warned that the project would not be a “magic fix” to addressing the problem of congestion on I-270, but will help by making improvements.
Much of the work will be done in Montgomery County, but some of the technological improvements will be made at the interchange of I-270 and Md. 80, which is also scheduled to receive expanded acceleration and deceleration lanes between interchanges.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said in an email Wednesday that Hogan’s announcement was good news.
People are tired of wasting time sitting in traffic, she said.
“The I-270 corridor is an important economic engine to the state of Maryland and the region,” said Gardner, who was not at the event. “Any and all improvements that keep people and goods and services moving are welcome.”
The state is aware of the heavy flow of commuters coming south from Frederick County in the morning, said SHA Administrator Gregory Slater.
“We wanted to do the whole corridor,” he said.
But the I-270 corridor will continue to grow, and the state will continue to monitor traffic in the area, he said.
According to the Maryland Department of Planning, Frederick County’s population is expected to grow by 88,500 people — to 334,000 — by 2040. Montgomery County is expected to grow by 170,800 people, to 1,206,800.
The money will go a long way toward providing relief for commuters in the short term, Slater said.
The state wanted to put a significant amount of money toward maximizing improvements that could be made now, rather than spending four or five years studying the problem before taking action, he said.