Governor Hogan: Promises Won't Protect Our Homes

An open letter...

The Honorable Governor Larry Hogan
100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland

Dear Governor Hogan,

Thank you for speaking with me at the Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade about the I-270 and I-495 project. I was very encouraged to hear you say that “Not a single house is ever gonna be taken down” to make room for widening of the highways. I was further encouraged that you repeated the sentiment to news organizations WTOP and  

However, the official documents and statements from your Administration, specifically the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the State Highway Administration (SHA), leave wide open the possibility that private property could be seized and homes paved over.

A slide presented to project bidders during a December 13, 2017 “Industry Forum” highlighted the question of who assumes the cost risks of “Right-of-way acquisition.” MDOT explains this as the process of seizing property, assessing its value, negotiating over compensation and relocation. Clearly from the State’s perspective, “right-of-way” acquisition includes the taking of private property to make room for transportation projects. How do we know that this won't be used to take homes? 

Even the statement issued by SHA on Tuesday, September 4th in response to questions about your “Not one single house is ever gonna be taken down” undercuts your promise. The SHA statement says that the state’s “approach” is to develop options “within the existing right-of-way.” The statement does not rule out property seizures or paving over homes, since it characterizes the state’s position as an “approach” which does not guarantee that’s what will happen. In addition, if the state’s intention is to stay within the right-of-way, why has right-of-way acquisition been a topic it has needed to discuss with bidders, and why is it so important to figure out “who assumes the cost risk?”

Governor Hogan, promises won't protect our homes. If you mean what are saying, make it official: direct MDOT and the SHA to inform bidders that proposals that involve seizing property or tearing down or moving existing homes will not be considered. 

Thank you for your time and attention, and please reply to let me know what you plan to do.

Peter Altman
(street address withheld from web version)
Rockville MD 20850