The Maryland Board of Public Works today advanced Governor Larry Hogan’s bold, transformative plan to solve some of the state’s decades-long traffic problems. The board designated the Traffic Relief Plan as eligible for a private-public partnership (“P3”), allowing the Hogan administration to move forward with soliciting and evaluating private investment for desperately needed congestion relief on I-495 and I-270. The program would be the largest highway public-private partnership of its kind in the world.
“This transformative project is about finally moving forward and taking action on an issue that elected officials have literally ignored for decades,” Governor Hogan said at today’s meeting. “It will result in less traffic, more peace of mind, cleaner air, and a much better quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Marylanders for decades to come.”
First Phase Will Be I-270. The Board approved Governor Hogan’s request to make I-270 improvements the first phase of the project. With a clearer consensus for making improvements on I-270, this will allow more time for local residents to convince leaders in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties of the need for traffic relief on I-495 and the American Legion Bridge before the state moves forward with the planned Phase Two and Phase Three of the project.
“We will instead move forward with improvements to I-270 as Phase One,” Governor Hogan said. “This will allow a couple more years of input, study, and debate and more time for the overwhelming majority of citizens and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who sit in that traffic to convince their local leaders that they desperately want to relieve this traffic congestion on the Beltway.”
Revenue Sharing for Transit. As approved today, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will dedicate 10% of the state’s portion of toll revenue sharing to fund regional transit projects. Additionally, MDOT officials agreed to Comptroller Peter Franchot’s request to conduct an I-270 monorail feasibility study; to allow local transit buses to use the managed toll lanes at no charge; and to not take any right of way until the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is completed. MDOT has established a transit working group to collaborate with regional and local stakeholders.
“The NEPA process and the environmental impact studies for the entire plan can continue to proceed on all three phases, so that if and when the citizens and their local elected representatives decide that they do want to move forward on traffic relief, they will not have to experience another decade—or decades—of needless delay,” Governor Hogan said.
Board to Vote on Each Phase. Each phase of the project will come before the Board of Public Works for separate votes, along with a completed environmental review for that phase. Today’s designation of the project as a whole allows MDOT and the Maryland Transportation Authority to seek and evaluate the qualifications of private investors for the first of the program’s five construction contracts, as well as gather input on potential innovative solutions to deliver congestion relief.