GAITHERSBURG – Gov. Larry Hogan announced three separate projects totaling $9 billion to widen Interstate Highway 270, Interstate Highway 495 and State Route 295 Sept. 21.
Hogan, along with Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn, announced officials in his administration began the process of soliciting potential companies with which to form a public-private partnership (P3) to add four toll lanes each to Interstate Highway 270, to Interstate Highway 495 and to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
“The daily backups on the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway have made the Baltimore-Washington corridor one of the most congested regions in the nation,” Hogan said. “This problem has been marring the quality of life of Maryland citizens for decades. Today we are finally going to do something about it.”
On the Maryland portion of the Capital Beltway, Hogan said, officials in the Maryland Department of Transportation plan to add four lanes, from the American Legion Bridge near Cabin John to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near the National Harbor. Hogan also said officials plan to add four lanes to I- 270, from the highway’s southern point connecting to the Capital Beltway, to where it meets Interstate Highway 70 in Frederick. Lastly Hogan announced plans to add four lanes along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, but before he can do so it requires the transfer of the land from federal to state government.
Hogan said before state Transportation Department officials can begin the process of soliciting companies with which to form a public-private partnership that will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the toll lanes on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, they must negotiate the transfer of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from the federal Department of the Interior, which currently owns the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, to the state. He said state transportation officials have sought to negotiate an arrangement with the federal government.
“These three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I- 495, I-270, and MD-295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” Hogan said.
All three proposed projects will not add tolls to existing roads on each highway, Hogan said. Hogan said his administration will not need the approval of the state General Assembly for the two state-run roads – I-270 and I-495 – but said the state might need approval from the U.S. Congress for the transfer of the BaltimoreWashington Parkway to the state.
According the 2013 Maryland law on public-private partnership, both the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates must have 45 days to review and comment on the proposals.
Transportation Secretary Rahn said the Maryland Department of Transportation officials have no timetable yet for the projects, saying Hogan’s administration is just starting the process to request information from private businesses that might design and build the project.
Democratic candidate for governor and State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-18) criticized Hogan’s proposal, saying the proposed tolls would cost too much for many drivers.
“It’s congestion relief for the wealthiest commuters,” Madaleno said.
While Madaleno is not opposed to adding lanes on I-495, I- 270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, he said he found issues with the details of the projects saying Hogan is “sugar-coating” the costs of the projects.
“What I’m saying is, the devil is in the details on these things,” Madaleno said. “This will cost the drivers of our state enormous amounts of money for those who will use the enhanced capacity, the huge amount of dislocation that will occur in building these roads and the fact that the BW-Parkway expansion, will take, will cost every toll user in the state,” Madaleno said.
The Purple Line, an eastwest, light-rail line connecting Metro stations in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, is another P3 project agreement signed by Hogan. Rahn has said the Purple Line is the second-largest transportation P3 project in the country.