Get ready and get active

So, the State is telling us that homes along I-270 won’t be leveled in efforts to relieve rush hour traffic congestion. 

But there are no guarantees that property won’t be taken or neighborhoods disrupted by construction. In fact, MDOT estimates that as many as 1,500 properties could be affected by this highway project. (1)

Much is still undecided, and even more is at stake. 

Decisions and actions happening right now, in Annapolis and closer to home, will affect our communities -- our lives -- for decades to come. 

A lot of the action is behind the scenes. We have to dig for facts. Don’t Widen 270 is dedicated to doing just that. We will keep you informed and report developments while there is time to take meaningful action.  

Coming up: 

  • The State legislature’s next session starts on January 8. (Did you know they convene for only 90 days each year? In 2019, critical developments in the I-270/I-495 “P3” process came in a last-minute rush late in the session.)

  • The P3 process reaches a critical decision point this winter, when we find out the State’s “preferred alternative” for congestion relief on I-270/I-495. (Did you know that all six alternatives currently under consideration create toll lanes?) More public forums will follow in the spring.

This isn’t over. Not by a mile. 

Start acting by learning more about the plan to widen I-270:  

  • How can it affect Maryland’s fiscal health and environment?

  • Why will it not provide long-term traffic relief?

Then GET INVOLVED. Help shape the future for yourself, your kids, and your community. Sign up for DW270 e-mails, so we can let you know about new developments, upcoming events, and—importantly— how to participate as an advocate for thoughtful progress and genuine transparency in transportation planning. 


Sunday, October 27 CABE Fall Townhall

Sunday, October 27 CABE Fall Townhall



  • Del. Marc Korman, House Transportation Subcommittee Chair

  • Tom Hucker, MoCo Council Transportation Committee Chair

Other Speakers To Be Announced

Time and Place

3:30-6 p.m.
North Chevy Chase Christian Church
8814 Kensington Parkway
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

CABE today announced it is holding an October 27 townhall with Delegate Marc Korman, who chairs the House Transportation Subcommittee, and Councilmember Tom Hucker, who chairs the Montgomery County County Council Transportation Committee.

Join us to discuss CABE legislative, outreach, and organizational goals and get the latest on Governor Hogan's $11+ billion plan to expand I-495 and I-270 for high-cost tollways, like the Luxury Lanes in Northern Virginia that can top $48 during rush hour.

Also invited, but not yet confirmed, are additional speakers from the Montgomery County Council and county delegation to the General Assembly, and state and federal planning agencies.

This is your last opportunity to get the latest and share your concerns before November 4, when MDOT Secretary Peter Rahn rolls into town to take our elected officials' questions about the state's Consolidated Transportation Plan. (Yep, Beltway Luxury Lanes are still in it.)

Details: Meet in Harlow Hall on the ground floor of the North Chevy Chase Christian Church at 8814 Kensington Parkway in Chevy Chase. Access Harlow Hall from the parking lot in the rear.




Marc Korman:  New Chair of the House Appropriations  Subcommittee on Transportation and the Environment

Introducing Marc Korman, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and the Environment. As the chair, Delegate Korman will be pivotal in determining future directions of the I-279/495 highway project.

How did he get this position? Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones recently appointed him, recognizing his commitment to transportation and environmental issues. 

Who is he? A Maryland House Delegate who represents District 16 in Montgomery County. He serves on the Appropriations Committee, and is also chair of the Montgomery County House legislative delegation. As the legislative delegation chair, he speaks and advocates for our entire 24-member delegation.

Why does his chairmanship matter? Because Delegate Korman has already played a strong and influential role in opposing Governor Hogan’s plans to add four managed toll lanes to I-495 and I-270. Now, as chair of the subcommittee, Delegate Korman will be even more prominent.

What does he think about the P3 project to add toll lanes to I-270 and I-495? Learn more about his commitment to transportation and environmental issues. Come hear him at the CABE Public Meeting on Sunday, October 27, from 3:30-6 pm at the North Chevy Chase Christian Church,
8814 Kensington Parkway, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. 

Save the dates

Save the Dates

Mark your calendars for the following very important community events. All meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the County Council Office Building in Rockville (100 Maryland Avenue).

November 4:  The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will visit Rockville for the Consolidated Transportation Program Presentation (CTP). MDOT meets annually with each county in the State to share the CTP, which is Maryland's six-year capital budget for transportation projects and programs across the Department, including the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration. Governor Hogan’s P3 plan for I-495 and I-270 will be among the projects presented.

November 20:  The Montgomery County Delegation to Annapolis will hold its Joint (House and Senate) Priorities Hearing. The hearing is an opportunity for interested residents to present issues of concern to the legislators. It is important for many people to show up and let our legislators know that they are opposed to Governor Hogan’s plan. We will be sending you further information about participating in this meeting as well as information for those who wish to testify.

December 2 and December 9:   There will be two nights of bill hearings on local bills (those that only affect Montgomery County). Some of these will be very important bills concerning Governor Hogan’s P3 plan. It will be very important for many residents to attend these meetings. Closer to the dates, we will  send you information about the bills that will be presented as well as information for those who wish to testify.

Fact Sheet September 2019


Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) are pushing through the Governor’s plan to use private financing to add toll lanes to I-270 and I-495. If the $11 billion (or more) project goes through, it will be the largest public-private partnership (P3) project in North America, binding the state, taxpayers, and private companies together for a term of 50 years.

The plan has major flaws that make it more likely to be a costly boondoggle than an effective traffic solution. Citizens need to understand the problems with the plan and ask hard questions about the project and its effectiveness, cost to taxpayers and impact on Maryland’s fiscal health, and climate and environmental impacts. 

Does Widening Provide Long-term Congestion Relief?

It has been well-documented around the country that widening highways doesn’t actually relieve congestion. It may seem logical that adding more lanes would reduce traffic, but what actually happens is that additional lanes attract more drivers, and traffic builds up again. We’ve seen this before – traffic engineers promised when I-270 was widened in 1990 that the doubling of lanes would relieve traffic until at least 2010. But by 1999, the highway had been reduced to a “rolling parking lot,” according to the Washington Post (1), and one commuter noted that the road had started clogging up again five years after widening. Traffic will fill empty space. It’s called induced demand. More roads lead to more driving – with no reduction in congestion.

How About Tolls? 

Virginia introduced tolls on I-66 in 2017 to reduce congestion and speed traffic times, but it hasn’t worked out very well. As the Post reported in 2018, “The state’s promise — less congestion and faster travel times during rush hour — has been fulfilled for many commuters able to pay or carpool, but the new toll system has had an adverse effect for many of the remaining road users. For some commuters, the rush-hour period has simply shifted later — outside the toll hours — and dumped them onto an interstate just as gridlocked as before.” (2)

The managed tolls in Virginia have frequently exceeded $40 for a single trip. Prices could be similar on I-270 - the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition estimates that tolls from Frederick to Shady Grove could be as high as $41 at rush hour. And if you can’t afford the tolls, you’ll be in the general-purpose lanes – which need to remain congested enough to convince others to pay for the toll lanes.

The project isn’t free to taxpayers – or Maryland’s fiscal health

Privately financed highway projects are risky. According to a December 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “During the past decade, many U.S. highway public-private partnerships (P3s) have experienced financial distress due to lower-than-expected traffic and revenue.” (3) The study identified three projects in Virginia (the Dulles Greenway, I-495, and the Pocahontas Parkway), among others around the country, that had to be re-negotiated because the finances were not working out.

Governor Hogan has repeatedly said the project won’t cost the taxpayers anything. As reported by the Washington Post (April 11, 2019), “He has said the lanes, which are estimated to cost $9 billion to $11 billion, would cost the state nothing because the private partner would finance their construction and build and operate them in exchange for keeping the toll revenue.”  But we are already seeing this isn’t true. For example, the Governor is seeking approval to spend $90 million of taxpayer dollars to hire contractors to work on the project. 

More investment in cars = more carbon pollution = more global warming

The plan’s nearly complete focus on cars would increase the carbon pollution that contributes to global warming and other pollutants that directly and indirectly contribute to premature mortality and respiratory ailments. Maryland law commits the state to reduce its carbon pollution by 40% by 2030, but planning for this project ignores that goal. 

The plan leaves low-income people behind. By excluding transit options, the state plan does nothing to expand the options for lower-income people to get to work and home. Want a transit alternative to I-270? It’s not in the plan. And drivers who don’t want to pay the tolls will be stuck in the same congestion as before. 

There are better approaches

None of the State’s final alternatives include mass transit despite public support for that option.  Mass transit alternatives used in conjunction with existing highways could lessen traffic, better serve low-income residents, and result in far less pollution. We should be investing in other regional transit mechanisms such as efficient bus rapid transit, commuter rail, and other 21st century transit innovations - some local business leaders are making a case for building a monorail system. 

What you can do

Your involvement is important. Here’s how you can get started: 

  • Stay informed. Since its inception in August 2018,’s volunteers have educated thousands of community residents about the state’s plans, organized citizen meetings with local elected officials and state legislators, and played an active role at public meetings and hearings. Sign up at

  • Keep in touch with your elected officials. Make sure you’ve let each of them know how you feel about the project. Googling “Who Represents Me” plus the word “city”, “county” or “state legislature” should get you to websites that can tell you who represents you and how to reach them.


  1.  Washington Post, “MD’s Lesson: Widen the Roads, Drivers Will Come”, 01/04/99.
  2.  Washington Post, “Year-old 66 Express Lanes have caused shifts in commuter behavior, but not necessarily in ways officials hoped”, 12/08/18.
  3.  U.S. Department of Transportation, “Report on Highway Public-Private Partnership Concessions in the United States”, December 2016.

Looking Ahead from Summer 2019

Going forward, plans to meet with key state legislators and provide testimony at legislative hearings about bills that may be introduced in the next session of the General Assembly.

We will urge the lawmakers to enact legislation as soon as the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

We will be sending you information about how you can help spread the word in your communities and contact your state delegates and senators to support legislation to prevent this ill-conceived boondoggle from moving forward.

Your involvement is very important. Thank you for your continued support and outreach on this issue!

Summer 2019 Happenings

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned April 8th and won’t reconvene until January 8, 2020. However, much has happened since the 2019 legislative session ended. Here are highlights of the ongoing activities around the proposed I-495 and I-270 managed toll lane project.

Key Summer Actions

  • June 5: BPW approval: The Board of Public Works (BPW) voted 2 to 1 to allow the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to proceed with the project as a public-private partnership (P3).

    • Importantly, at the last minute, Governor Hogan amended the order of the highway expansion so that widening I-270 would occur first.

  • June 6: M-NCPPC rejection The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), the agency in charge of planning and parkland for Montgomery County and P.G County, voted 9 to 1 to reject MDOT’s screened alternative (ARDS), stating that the recommended ARDS are too narrow for a complete environmental review.

  • July 11: Elrich plan Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced an alternative plan that increases the pressure to add lanes to I-270. Elich’s plan would funnel traffic from I-95 to I-270 via the Intercounty Connector. It is intended to relieve congestion on the Beltway by adding traffic to I-270.

    • The plan also calls for extending Virginia’s managed toll lane network on I-270 to I-370.

Meanwhile, MDOT is actively pushing the Governor’s managed toll lane project forward, planning to seek proposals from the private sector at the same time as conducting the required environmental study.

MDOT also held a workshop in August to inform businesses of contracting opportunities related to the program. and other organizations continue to voice their opposition and have recently focused on interactions with Montgomery County officials. 

  • A letter was sent to Montgomery County elected officials following the BPW meeting requesting that Montgomery County insist decisions about I-270 be made through the same process of dialogue with MDOT that will take place for I-495.

  • Meetings with County Council members and/or their staff have been held to determine where the members stand on the P3 proposal.

  • met with County Executive Marc Elrich on Sept. 3rd to discuss his proposed alternative plan.

While the County has no legislative authority on interstate highways, repeated and vocal opposition to the project from Council members is crucial for getting public, press, and legislative attention. 

“Alternate Plan” from County Looks Bad for Lower I-270 Neighborhoods

County Executive Marc Elrich is advancing an alternative to Governor Hogan’s plan that will increase the pressure to add lanes to I-270. This “plan” seems to throw I-270 communities under the proverbial bus in order to protect Beltway neighborhoods. Mr. Elrich’s office has not responded to our repeated requests to meet and discuss the plan. 

Here’s what we know: The alternative plan is outlined in Mr. Elrich’s July 11th, 2019 letter to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. It calls for the following:  

  • Funneling traffic from I-95 to I-270, via the Intercounty Connector. The plan is designed to relieve congestion on the Beltway by channeling commuters who travel south on I-95 and then west on the Beltway to head west on the Intercounty Connector (ICC) instead of the Beltway. This extra traffic would end up on lower I-270, adding even more cars to the existing congestion.

  • Extending Virginia’s new toll lanes through I-270. The plan calls for the managed lane network that Virginia is building to connect into Maryland and would extend the additional toll lanes all the way up to I-370.

  • Limited transit and technology integration. To its credit, the plan includes use of technology tools to better manage traffic flow as well as improvements to Park & Ride facilities, and notes that more could be done if funded with toll revenues.

Unfortunately, the welcome emphasis on transit may be the only part of this plan we could support. The additional traffic for I-270 and apparent commitment to carry the toll lanes from Virginia through Montgomery County raises a bunch of questions which we need to get answers to: 

  • Who else in County leadership is backing this plan? Does this plan represent a consensus among elected County officials?

    • Did Mr. Elrich discuss this plan with the Montgomery Council before sending the July 11th letter? If not, why not? If so, what documentation were they provided?

    • Knowing how much anxiety has been expressed by local groups, why didn’t Mr. Elrich reach out to municipal leaders in Gaithersburg and Rockville and I-270 neighborhood and civic associations to discuss this plan?

  • Regarding the plan itself, is there more written up than the July 11th letter and map? Where is the actual plan document? What analysis has been conducted to assess the impacts of shifting traffic from I-95 across the ICC to the I-270? And,

    • Why doesn’t Mr. Elrich support reversible lanes on the lower part of I-270 as well as north of I-370, which has been Montgomery County’s long-standing position?

    • How many lanes does Mr. Elrich propose be added to the lower part of I-270? How many lanes would there be in total on this section of I-270?

    • Why didn’t Mr. Elrich specify that any changes to I-270 below I-370 must stay within the existing rights of way and sound walls? How will he respond if MDOT says that I-270 will have to be widened beyond the existing rights-of-way for the plan to work?

If this “alternate plan” concerns you, and you’d like to see it and understand how the County Executive justifies putting one set of communities at risk to protect another, when he is supposed to be watching out for all of his constituents, please call Mr. Elrich’s office and ask: 240-777-0311. 

While you are at it, it’s worth asking the County Councilmembers what their positions are on this plan to dump traffic from I-95 and the Beltway onto I-270. Please only contact Councilmembers who represent you. The two who represent the areas where I-270 would be widened south of I-370 are:

Andrew Friedson, District 1:  240-777-7828 (

Sidney Katz, District 3:  240-777-7906 (

Board of Public Works Allows Hogan's Highway Plan to Move Forward

But the decision to tackle all of I-270 first may create new problems for the controversial proposal

On Wednesday, June 5th 2019, the Board of Public Works authorized the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to proceed with the I-270/I-495 widening project as a public-private partnership.

Here are the basics of what happened, and what it may mean for opponents of the project and residents who live near the highways. (If you want to watch the meeting, you can do so here.)

1. Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot voted to formally make the I-270/I-495 project a P3, entitling MDOT to seek private funding. Treasurer Kopp voted against. 
2. Hogan amended the plan during the meeting to put I-270 FIRST for whatever changes they are going to make (until then, I-270 was going to be in two separate, later stages.) He also is delaying any changes to the American Legion Bridge.
3. Franchot offered several amendments, most of which appear to be meaningless. These are discussed below. 
4. Hogan made several references to establishing a process whereby MDOT and Montgomery and Prince George's County leaders would negotiate on plans for the beltway. No such provision was mentioned for I-270.

While the meeting at first appeared to seal the fate of I-270 neighbors while effectively granting a reprieve to those who live by I-495, the full implications of the decisions made are probably more complex. Clearly the acts of putting I-270 first, without modifications to the American Legion Bridge, and creating a mechanism for Montgomery and Prince George’s County leaders to negotiate with MDOT over beltway changes are all slaps in the face to the I-270 neighbors who have been opposing widening.

It was also extremely disappointing that Comptroller Franchot chose to back Hogan instead of his fiscal guardianship duties. It sounds as though Franchot was influenced by a call from County Executive Marcc Elrich to back Hogan’s revised plan: Franchot stated during the meeting that Elrich called him before hand to urge him to “do 270 … first, since that’s the one we all agree on.”

So, last Wednesday was frustrating in several ways.

However, the BPW meeting may actually have created more problems for Governor Hogan’s plans than they solved.. As Ben Ross with the Maryland Transportation Opportunities Coalition (MTOC) points out, the State has been following a federally mandated process for only a portion of I-270. It isn’t necessarily a simple thing for them to just add on the other half of I-270 eighteen months into the process – in other words, by putting all of I-270 first, the Governor may have forced MDOT to have to start the whole process over.
We aren’t sure of this, since it will come down to legal maneuvering and politics but it’s a clear possibility and we’ll keep close tabs on it.
Its also worth noting that even supporters of widening I-270 are strongly questioning the Governor’s decision to exclude the American Legion Bridge from the revised plans, since it is one of the worst choke points in the area.
Next, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Frederick County leaders aren’t all that enthusiastic about the evolving plans for the highway. As the Frederick News-Post reported on June 6th, elected officials there are asking questions about whether adding lanes will really lessen congestion and why transit isn’t a more central component of the Governor’s plan.
On top of that, the Montgomery National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) formally rejected MDOT’s “screened alternatives” for the highway project, as Maryland Matters reported. The MNCPPC’s action is significant because it is a formal stakeholder in the process, and when a formal stakeholder doesn’t agree with the plan, the Federal Highway Administration is supposed to step in to bring the sides into agreement. This may not mean everything gets fixed, but it does give the MNCPPC a much stronger say over the project than it had before.
In short, the week ended with Hogan having a lot more problems than he had before.

With the big picture stuff out of the way, here’s our take on the amendments Franchot made during the meeting. The amendments, which Franchot puts forward at 3:01:15 on the video, don't seem to add up to much. Here they are - transcribed from the video - with each followed by questions or commentary from regarding their meaning and impact.

1.       No acquisitions of property related to this project will take place prior to the BPW reviewing and voting up or down on the final P3 agreement following the competitive procurement process. Question: were any homes or property actually at risk before a final agreement is struck?  

2.       The RFP will contain a provision permitting mass transit bus access on the managed toll lanes. Without tolls. But this was already a done deal – see MDOT’s explanation of screened alternatives published in February 2019: “Bus usage, including consideration of additional express bus service as recommended by the TPB, will be examined in all ETL and HOT managed lanes alternatives to accommodate transit within the 495 and 270 roadways.”

3.       10% of all state net tolled proceeds after the private developer has been compensated for construction costs will be channeled to Montgomery and Prince George’s County regional transit. While the idea of extracting financing for transit out of this project is a pretty smart way to salvage something positive out of a terrible plan, we need to be realistic about what revenues this would yield. First, as has been pointed out many times, we have good reasons to be skeptical that the project will even pay for itself; if it doesn't, this amendment is meaningless. This amendment only means something if the 10% tithe is built into the toll pricing beforehand, since the tolls are supposed to be set at a level just high enough to pay the contractors back. There isn't supposed to be "overage" in the toll revenues since that would mean MDOT is making the tolls higher than they need to be, which would reduce the number of people choosing to pay them.  

4.       Feasibility study of the monorail from shady grove to Frederick as possibly a P3 or state support; that’s something the legislature might be open to. Hogan “I don’t know how deep of a study we’re going to do…I think its worth considering the idea; I’m willing to say we’re willing to do an initial feasibility study and consider that with the legislature to see if it makes any sense.” Given Hogan's comments about this, and MDOT’s earlier decision to reject all transit-only options for this project, we shouldn’t have any expectation this will yield more than a formal dismissal of the idea by MDOT. Bulletin-May 2019

What’s Happening Now?

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned April 8; however, a lot has happened since then and there will be lots of activity between now and when they reconvene January 8, 2020.The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is barging full steam ahead to push their managed toll lane project forward and and other advocacy groups, as well as county and state officials continue to fight back. As described below, we have had considerable success in recent weeks, momentum is growing, press coverage is increasing, and the public is getting better informed and more active in opposing this boondoggle.


What You Can Do

Your involvement is so important! The latest development involves a major upcoming vote by the state Board of Public Works (BPW) on the proposal to widen I-270 and I-495. Our goal is to urge the members of this three-person Board (which includes the Governor, the State Treasurer, and the Comptroller) to vote no on moving this project forward. The BPW will consider MDOT’s request to designate the toll lane project as a public-private partnership (P3) in early June, essentially fast-tracking this reckless plan. Please write the BPW members explaining why they should reject this $9-11 billion P3 project. Click here for suggestions on how to construct and send your letter. Use the sample letter or make your input more meaningful by stating the importance of rejecting this proposal in your own words.


Recent Events

The scheduled BPW meeting

On May 1, the Washington Post reported that Governor Hogan was pushing to include a vote for the P3 proposal on the May 8 BPW agenda despite knowing that Treasurer Nancy Kopp had informed the BPW six months earlier that she would be out of town on a vacation to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary. Ms. Kopp had previously stated that she felt a project this important, with an impact for at least a half-century, deserved more examination. Despite public outcry urging the Governor to delay the vote until Ms. Kopp could be present, his office confirmed on May 3 that there were no plans to delay the meeting. Asked why the governor’s office couldn’t delay the vote for two weeks, a spokesman in the governor’s office said, “…we have to keep moving. Something of this importance to the public’s safety and well-being shouldn’t be delayed.” Later that day, increasing publicity and a letter of protest by 36 state lawmakers from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties led to the discussion being postponed until a BPW meeting in June.


Town hall meeting in Silver Spring

Montgomery County council member, Tom Hucker, organized a town hall meeting on May 5 to discuss the proposed widening of I-495 and I-270. The meeting was put together with only one week’s notice but nevertheless, with standing room only, nearly 1,000 people turned out to listen to county and state officials and community organizers. The speakers criticized MDOT’s lack of local community and government involvement and called for more transparency, studies focused on the potential environmental impact and the cost to taxpayers, the need for transit options, and more. A 4 minute video showing the highlights of the meeting can be found here. Or click here to watch all of the formal presentations.

Governor Hogan’s tweets

Apparently, Governor Hogan was watching the live presentation of the town hall meeting because midway through he began sending tweets referring to the meeting as a “road kill rally to halt our plans to solve the congestion crisis” and the town hall participants as “pro-traffic activists who plot to keep the roads filled with traffic.” John Kelly of the Washington Post (scroll down to the item entitled “Beltway Bandit) decried the Governor’s language as smearing “… Maryland citizens who are rightfully concerned about their backyards, their parks, the environment and their state’s fiscal health” and stating that “If anyone is pro-traffic in this issue, surely it’s whichever company ends up winning the contract to build and maintain the high-occupancy toll lanes. It will make money only if there’s traffic.”

Looking Ahead

· MDOT has scheduled the last of their public workshops on May 14 in Oxon Hill and May 16 in Germantown.

· The BPW meeting with the P3 proposal included in the agenda is scheduled to take place in a yet unannounced date in June.