Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is preliminarily considering a proposed alternative to the widening of interstate highways 495 and 270 plan to relieve traffic congestion. (Courtesy Photo)

SILVER SPRING – During a briefing about Maryland’s six-year capital budget for transportation projects, State Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn revealed that the governor is no longer considering an alternative the county proposed to widening Interstate Highway 270 and the Beltway.

In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) unveiled a plan to fix traffic congestion in the D.C. metropolitan area by adding extra lanes to Interstate Highway 495 and I-270. Hogan has claimed taxpayers would pay nothing for the widening project. It would be funded through a public-private partnership (P3), in that it would be financed mainly through tolls charged to commuters who drove on the new express lanes.

The proposed widening of I-270 and I-495 was met with outrage by dozens of county residents during the past couple of years because the expansion would force some residents to leave their homes. Hogan has claimed several times that the widening projects would not require the removal of homes and businesses.

County Executive Marc Elrich (D) had proposed an alternative that would have included the Intercounty Connector (ICC), a toll road. Rahn wrote in a letter in August that the state would conduct preliminary tests to determine if the proposal could work.

As of Nov. 4, however, the Hogan administration is no longer pursuing Elrich’s recommendation as a possibility.

Rahn said at the briefing on Maryland’s Draft FY 2020 – FY 2025 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), Maryland’s six-year capital budget for transportation projects, in Council chambers in Rockville that using the ICC, also known as highway 200, would not be a feasible solution to the congestion problem on I-270 or I-495.

“It doesn’t work,” Rahn said, according to the Maryland Matters report. “It adds time to commutes.”

Elrich said in an interview that he is skeptical about the degree of consideration that the alternative he proposed received from the state.

“I don’t think the governor had any intention of changing his mind, and that concerns me,” Elrich said. “Until I see the data, I don’t know how I feel about it.”

The county executive said he wanted to see the numbers behind Hogan’s decision before formally reacting to the news.

“I’m waiting to see their analysis on it (considering the ICC),” said Elrich. “They’ve said they were going to come down and share it; I haven’t seen it.”

The six-year CTP is the capital budget for state transportation projects.

“This Draft FY 2020 – FY 2025 CTP totals $15.3 billion, $14.3 billion of which comes through the Trust Fund and $1.0 billion from “Other” fund sources, including local contributions, WMATA direct funding, PFC airport fees, etc.,” according to the summary of the CTP.

Hogan said at a press conference in September 2018 that his proposed plan to add four toll lanes to I-270 and to widen part of I-495 would cost about $9 billion and be funded through tolls.

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