As of this moment there is a plan to widen Interstate 370 and Interstate 270 between Shady Grove and the Beltway. Plans to widen I-270 from Shady Grove to Frederick would come later. This could mean eight lanes of traffic merging into two lanes at Clarksburg. We, the commuters of these interstate highways, are already experiencing enough traffic congestion at these points.

We need transit alternatives that would provide all-day, two-way train service as well as all-day weekend service. This could be accomplished by adding a third MARC track from Frederick to Brunswick or by building a monorail next to the interstates. The state Department of Transportation is refusing to plan for all-day rail service. However, Montgomery County planners are starting a study next July that will include all of these transportation alternatives.

Trains Not Tolls, a Frederick County citizens advocacy group, is currently asking for all-day and weekend train service instead of toll lanes on I-270. A Trains Not Tolls petition was presented to a joint meeting of the city of Frederick Board of Aldermen and the Frederick County Council on Oct. 16. The Trains Not Tolls petition, with 698 signatures, requests that Frederick County join with Montgomery County Planning Department in their current study of transportation needs that will start in July 2020.

We are convinced that an unbiased study will show that trains are a better solution than toll lanes. But let’s get the facts and let everyone judge for themselves. We urge the County Council to join with Montgomery County in their I-270 study. To see the petition, go to

Shoshanna Staffone

Trains Not Tolls member


(18) comments


Trains not Tolls is a silly concept.  The average daily traffic on I-270 in Frederick is 118,000.  The average ridership on MARC from Frederick is 398.   That's just 0.3%.   Even if ridership increased a factor of 10 that would still be a drop in the bucket.

Trains not Tolls is clueless.  Increasing the number of trains would have virtually ZERO impact on ridership.  There is already plenty of space on the existing trains. 

Adding more more rail is not going to force more people to ride rail.  Facepalm.



If anything you understate the irrelevance of MARC to moving people, Burgessdr. Those 118,000 vehicles probably move an average 1.6 people each based on average vehicle occupancies. So the correct comparison with MARC ridership is about 189,000, which would reduce MARC to about 0.2% from your 0.3%. This 'getting people out of their cars' is a silly old trope whose silliness has been proven in the transit ridership numbers year after year. It is an absurdity used to justify wasting vast amounts of taxpayer money on maintaining a mode that provides service to only a tiny minority in a semi-rural fringe area like Frederick. The irony is express buses taking advantage of free-flow toll lanes on 270 offers the best potential there is of actually getting a few people out of their cars.


Peter. I rode the MARC for years. It was convenient. Walking distance to station on both ends. Now it's not convenient. Dont ride it no more.

Most people might drive to a station. But few people are going to spend an hour on a bus to get from train station to place of work.


I couldn't agree more. And not only would it improve transportation and save our green space, it will yield more jobs in engineering, steel production, railroad construction and maintenance. And more tourist dollars along the city stops and less headaches for commuters. We also need a line between Frederick and Baltimore. This should have been done as an Obama administration shovel ready project.


The stupid thing is, once the train stops at the station, how to you bridge the remaining 8 miles to the office or home? Ridiculous! Trains schmains.


Good question and that "need" may spark a new business model of self-driving cars, "Ubers" or even something we have yet to imagine. Where there is a need, there may be a way.


FNP - Please correct the link. It's obviously not "" when the organization is Trains not Tolls.


Why not just extend the Metro to Frederick? Cheaper, better, quicker.


Dick - we've been over this a dozen times. Lennie Thompson once gave the reason in 2 words: Parr's Ridge. I'll shorten it to one: Terrain. Why is it that we have to go to DC via Point of Rocks? Why don't we have an active rail line following an established, historical route like 355? The terrain is simply not conducive to rail development (heck, it's not even conducive to efficient highway development - look at the garbage exits at Urbana and Hyattstown), and making it so will require mucho bucks.


I got to see the numbers on that one. Metro cars are heavy and expensive compared to "light rail."


VA tp;; lanes should have been VA toll lanes


I would like to see the impact of one or even two new rail lines and how that would add trains and even express trains to Shady Grove and perhaps Union Station. What is the cost and how much land is already available? When could it be useful?

And where would all the new riders park?


Trains are a great idea and much of the land is already owned in being the median section of I-270 vs all that's needed to buy or take over land that is needed and not owned for widening. Who ever thought the rail line route currently obviously never considered the added time in winding around the rural landscape instead of following the commuter routes and planned development that would eventually pop up all along 270 to make it the parking lot it is today 24/7/365. Lanes are needed, as are ideas like ridding ourselves of a truck scale built on a winding hill that serves as a major bottleneck. Some PSA type education is also needed about people tailgating and riding in the left lane slowing everyone else down that result in the volume and crashes now. If I had to commute that again, I'd think of investing in a gyrocopter or one of those backpack parachute/propeller rigs to fly directly where I wanted to go as pretty soon, it will be 2 hours just to get to Germantown from Frederick at lunch time.


As I read your post, I fear you've got things backwards. The line from Frederick to Point of Rocks was put in long before folks envisioned commuter traffic to/from DC. Heck, it was there for the Battle of Monocacy. The [relatively] straight line you envision is not practicable. See my reply to Dick, above.
That said, I agree with you about the placement of a weigh station in a rocky defile. Not very visionary. I continue to maintain that the biggest bang for the buck at improving southbound traffic would be extending the "merge lane" from the weigh station down to Clarksburg.


Trains not tolls is a false choice. MARC is three-quarters funded by state taxpayers and tax money will have to fund extra trains. There isn’t the tax money available to widen roads, only to make minor improvements here and there. The widening of 270 will be funded by tolls attracting private capital. So the 270 plan is self-funding whereas MARC improvements rely on higher taxes. Second trains can only attract hundreds of users from Frederick whereas roads like 270 attract tens of thousands. Transit’s best future lies in express buses Frederick to Shady Grove Metro running in free flowing toll lanes on 270. Such a bus from Frederick would be in Shady Grove at about the same time as the Frederick MARC gets to the main line at Point of Rocks.


A monorail down the center of I-270, going above the bridges, would make sense to me. Something I suggested twenty years ago to county and state representatives.


"Plans to widen I-270 from Shady Grove to Frederick would come later." Hahaha! Yes, like as in 'never'. Hahaha! Does no good to widen 15 when you have 16 lanes from the beltway to Clarksburg and 4 from Clarksburg to Frederick. Brilliant!


The present planned sequence is to first add lanes to 270 south of Shady Grove and to the western Spur and Beltway west and Am Legion Bridge to make a connection with the VA tp;; lanes on 495, 395, 66 (soon) and 95. The rest of the Beltway has been deferred for now because of opposition in Montgo Co. Shady Grove to Frederick is now #2 priority. Of course that can change. My guess is they'll design two extra lanes each direction for total 8 lanes Clarksburg thru Urbana, then single extra lane each direction (or 6 total) in to Frederick. That last 6 lanes would fit with 6 lanes on US15 in Frederick. One day there's a need -- in my opinion -- for a highway curving around the east side of Frederick on the east bank of the Monocacy -- North South Rd it is called on the longterm plans -- to take off where 8 lanes end north of Urbana.

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