The Interstate 495, Intestate 270 Managed Lanes Project will not be a long-term solution for the massive congestion on the I-270 corridor. Serving only wealthy professionals, it is hardly equitable for most commuters.

We only need to look to the fiasco of the Purple Line, a major P3 project that is fraught with delays and a broken contract, to question the viability of a public-private partnership.

Governor Larry Hogan consistently underfunds transit in favor of highway expansion with little regard to the environmental impact of increased vehicle traffic. The transportation sector is the major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change in Maryland. The governor dismissed the Corridor Cities Project for bus rapid transit, insisting it would only serve Montgomery County. The county is a stronghold for federal, state and private sector employment that serve the entire state. Comptroller Peter Franchot successfully negotiated the inclusion of toll-free express buses as part of the P3 agreement per the demands of the Montgomery County Council.

Not unlike the expansion of I-270 with local lanes, the managed lanes project will only be a temporary reprieve unless the increase in telework resolves the entire problem.

(12) comments

mrnatural1

shiftless88 wrote:

"I think the point is that only people with relatively high incomes can utilize the toll lanes. So all that work is just to speed up the commutes of the more well-to-do citizens and leaving the regular Joe's driving in the crowded lanes."

That is exactly right shiftless.

By design, Lexus/HOT lanes deter all but the wealthiest drivers on the road. Sure there are exceptions. Not everyone in the Lexus Lanes is driving a Bentley, but the tolls are variable and in order for the Lexus Lanes to function, the toll must be high enough to discourage most drivers from using them.

The idea is to limit the number of Lexus Lane users to a number that will enable traffic to flow at or above the established minimum speed.

The MD DOT slipped up and published the estimated *average* rush hour toll for I-270. It is well over $2 per mile (about $2.25, IIRC). It's about 33 miles from I-70 to the Beltway. That's over $74 ONE-WAY, almost $150 round-trip. And that is the AVERAGE.

Sure, technically, we commoners could chose to pay that toll, but realistically, the vast majority of the drivers in the Lexus Lanes will be very well-off.

The rest of us will be stuck in the same old linear parking lot.

And don't forget the soul crushing delays that would result from construction of these ill-conceived semi-private highways for the rich.

gary4books

The Purple Line should have been finished in the early 90's or perhaps even earlier. Massive money was raised to hire lawyers to fight it and so far they have delayed it to a degree no one could have expected. Hogan has finally given us a path to completion. So far the DC Metro system looks likes spokes on a wheel without a rim. Other projects will finish the wheel and make the entire system easier to manage.

Greg F

That FREDCO is stuck using MARC trains with no direct path to MOCO other than to meander around into WV and back is ridiculous. The sheer volume of 270 seems to yell out that rail along the I-270 corridor directly to MOCO would be heavily used. At present, the median between the north/south lanes is wide enough to do what was done along the route to Dulles, with some parcels along the way that could be obtained by purchase or eminent domain. US is one of the ONLY countries that just can't handle rail. Even China has massively expanded high speed rail to supplement a widely growing highway system. What used to be 12 hours in a train is now 2 for a route I took. There is a highway, but by and large, rail is used to get between major hub cities. Yet the US system ignores this...and like in history destroys things that threaten industry profits like the LA rail system in favor of cars so tire companies could sell more tires (it's a real story..look it up). Many others are like this, including keeping coal going over green energy that IS working elsewhere. SSDD...same sh**...different day here.

petersamuel

The toll express lanes project on 270 and 495 is to be funded by tolls paid by their users. The selected private operator would take the risks of cost overruns or revenue shortfalls. By contrast, the Purple Line like most transit offers no prospect of significant fare revenue so taxpayers have to underwrite it. And that is the source of its proiblems. Virginia has benefited greatly from its toll express lane projects. We should follow their example.

shiftless88

I think the point is that only people with relatively high incomes can utilize the toll lanes. So all that work is just to speed up the commutes of the more well-to-do citizens and leaving the regular Joe's driving in the crowded lanes.

mrnatural1

Exactly shiftless. [thumbup][thumbup]

bosco

Yes, shiftless, we need lane equity.

petersamuel

But that isn't how they work. Look at the toll lanes in NoVA on 95, 495 and 395. The mix of vehicles is very similar in the toll lanes and in the free lanes. People of all incomes have trips when they need to meet an appointment and the value to them of a reliable free-flow trip is greater than the cost of the toll. Plus the toll lanes simply aren't a business proposition if they cater only to the highest incomes.

gary4books

I am not sure that looking like "southern California" is a benefit. But I do hope you are right about the future of northern Virginia transit.

micky

Decentralize the federal government, scatter the agencies throughout the U.S. If telework can work for the private sector then it should work for the government, Decrease the D.C. congestion.

Greg F

It works in a pinch, and not all that well.

mrnatural1

Great idea micky! I've been saying essentially the same thing for years.

Population growth in our area is primarily driven by the existence of jobs. Unfortunately, the D.C. area has been beyond capacity for decades. The good news is that there are plenty of places in America that are looking for more growth. Major employers -- both public and private -- should be encouraged to locate elsewhere.

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