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.
DontWiden270.org 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.
DontWiden270.org 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.