June 10, 2019

State Board Alters Construction Plans for I-270 and I-495 After County and Local Leaders Raise Concerns

On Wednesday, June 5, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to move forward with the proposed addition of toll lanes on I-270 and to designate the project as a public-private partnership. The board’s vote to move I-270 to Phase 1 of the project is a significant change that will provide County and regional leaders more time to work with the state to address the impact the project will have on local communities.

The vote came two days after Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich; County Council President Nancy Navarro and Transportation Chair of the Montgomery County Council Tom Hucker hosted a press conference with local and state elected leaders from Montgomery and neighboring counties. The group was there to raise concerns about the State’s $11 billion plan to improve traffic congestion on I-270 and I-495

“Today’s vote at the Board of Public Works was definitely a step in the right direction,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Extending the I-270 portion of the project up to Frederick is critically important to improving the commute on I-270 - this is something all of us agreed with and can be done without a major widening and taking of property.

While this is an important first step, the missing piece is the American Legion bridge, which we all agree should be part of this project and must be part of the solution. As I first said in December, the project should start at the bridge and work its way north up 270. That is doable.

I want to note also that it is possible to address traffic east of 270. Our plan would make it easier for cars coming from Prince Georges County on I-95 to use the Intercounty Connector to get to 270 without having to use the beltway. This solution has two advantages: 1) people get to I-270 faster and 2) it takes traffic off the beltway – according to the state, 20 percent of the traffic on the beltway are vehicles on I-95 using the beltway to get to Virginia. Those vehicles would be able to avoid the beltway and have a far quicker trip.

I want to thank state Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot for their questions and for listening. I also want to thank Montgomery County Council Transportation Chair Tom Hucker and the entire Council, other elected officials from Montgomery County and leaders from Fredrick and Prince George’s Counties. And finally, I want to thank the Governor for his willingness to modify his approach – although there’s still work to be done, I think we’re on the right road to solving our traffic problems; and I look forward to working with him.”