MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Lawmakers from Montgomery, Prince George’s and Frederick counties announced an alternative plan to reduce traffic congestion on I-270 and the Beltway that would not require widening the roadway.
Governor Larry Hogan announced a multi-billion dollar reduction plan two years ago that would add toll lanes to three major highways but would require some homes and businesses to be destroyed.
Maryland has one of the worst commute times in the country with one of the biggest trouble spots at the topside of the Beltway.
Hogan’s solution is to expand the road but local leaders want him to hit the brakes and get them more involved.
“It doesn’t make sense to focus on the Beltway and not be able to get where you are going. We need solutions on our county roadways to move people, there are ways to do this, I support doing that and that will make a difference to our residents. More importantly, it would make a difference to all our residents,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.
Some of the residents Elrich is talking about showed up to the announcement with signs in support of the several local politicians who want the governor to hit the brakes when it comes to building toll lanes on the beltway and I-270 to ease congestion.
Instead, they want to see the focus to be on getting cars off the roads, not adding more room for them to drive and putting homes and parks at risk. They also want to invest more in public transportation to increase use, encouraging ridesharing and telecommuting with incentives, Investing in local traffic solutions that don’t displace residents or large areas of parks and using existing road space for reversible lanes for more immediate congestion relief.
Hogan’s plan involves MDOT adding four lanes to I-270, I-495 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the widening would be paid for by a public-private partnership that would require tolls on these lanes. It would also include demolishing more than 30 homes for the road expansion and could require years of construction in neighboring communities.
There has been significant pushback since Hogan announced the plan and these impacted residents told FOX 5 they want to see the governor put the money to better use.
“You wouldn’t pick a plan quickly, you would finish all the environmental studies, you would talk to your communities and I'm quite appalled that he would ignore a conservative constituent base and conservative nature of his party to try and push nine to11 billion dollars which could bankrupt the state. It says a public-private partnership, well in that fine print the public will have to pay for any shortcomings. This could lead to $40 plus tolling — single way. It didn’t work in Virginia. They still have congestion,” said Stephanie Powers.
“It's not like congestion is a new problem. People want to have alternatives. And when the alternative comes back with ‘Hey, we are going to put more cars on the road, we are going to make it expensive for most people to use and it doesn’t address the real transit issues,' how is that progress?” said Steve Oriol.
This announcement comes at a critical moment because Wednesday will be when the state board of public works will vote on whether or not to allocate money towards the widening project, which is just another step towards approval.