Citizens Against Beltway Expansion
Toll Lanes in the Hands
of Governor-elect Moore
In a statement issued on November 17, the Maryland Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) indicated that a construction contract for the toll lanes would not be submitted to the Maryland Board of Public Works before March 2023. As a result, the decision on whether to move forward with this project is now in the hands of Governor-elect Wes Moore and the other two members of the Board of Public Works – State Treasurer Dereck Davis and Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman. This delay provides policymakers an opportunity to reconsider how to address transportation challenges in the I-495/I-270 corridor and to seek a more sustainable solution.
Toll Lanes Would Cause Great Harm
But They Won’t Work
Governor Hogan’s plan to add private toll lanes to I-495 and I-270 would cause substantial harm to our communities, our environment and our wallets. An environmental study conducted by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) shows why this project would be a disaster.
Toll Lanes Won’t Improve Daily Commutes: MDOT’s study shows that if the toll lanes are built, the daily roundtrip commute in the general (non-tolled) lanes between Gaithersburg and the American Legion Bridge would actually be 7.5 minutes longer than if the toll lanes are not built. This makes sense. There must be congestion in general lanes to motivate drivers to pay pricey tolls.
Taxpayer Subsidies: MDOT failed to include an estimate of taxpayer subsidies to Transurban over the term of the contract. MDOT also failed to address who will pay to move water, sewer, gas, electric, cable and other utility lines. Why is MDOT hiding the financial risk to taxpayers?
Inadequate Stormwater Treatment: MDOT plans to treat only 45% of the stormwater runoff. This will pollute local streams, creeks, the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
Impact on Global Warming: MDOT did not include an analysis of increased vehicle emissions and the impact they would have on global warming. What is MDOT hiding?
Harm to Parks and Greenspaces: Construction would harm 15 parks. There would be a loss of 500 acres of forest canopy from parkland and other greenspaces.
No Environmental Justice Analysis: MDOT ignored federal requirements to study whether the negative impacts of the toll lanes, such as increased air pollution, would fall more heavily on low-income communities or communities of color.
Failure to Study Alternatives to Toll Lanes: Federal law requires MDOT to study reasonable alternatives to toll lanes. Both the Maryland Transportation Institute and the regional Transportation Planning Board have determined that telework would effectively reduce traffic congestion, but MDOT did not study policies to encourage telework.
Read more about the findings from the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
We Can Stop the Toll Lanes
Public opposition has already forced Governor Hogan to scale back the first phase of the project. In addition, there are many challenges that could stop or delay the project before the first shovel goes into the ground.
The project requires approval by the federal government;
Lawsuits by the MD Sierra Club and others could block it;
A corporation which bid on the project has sued MDOT for awarding it to Transurban;
A construction contract must be approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works;
If there are delays in the project, the 2022 elections could usher in a new governor and comptroller ready to block the toll lanes.
We must keep up the fight and demand that our local, state and federal officials take action to stop the toll lanes.
CABE is pushing back. We’re a coalition of taxpayers and civic associations demanding better, affordable and sustainable transportation options for suburban Maryland.
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