Citizens Against Beltway Expansion
from I-495/I-270 Project
Transurban announced on March 10 that it is withdrawing from the I-495/I-270 toll lanes project. The retreat by Transurban is a testament to the power of grassroots opposition to a plan that put our environment, communities and wallets at risk. It shows that the collective roar of ordinary people can even defeat the determination of a global corporation. Now, we must double down on our effort to defeat Transurban's plan to build toll lanes over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge into Prince George's County.
See: Transurban announces it will exit proposed toll lane expansion.
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.
Connect with CABE
Citizens Against Beltway Expansion
P.O. Box 3593
Silver Spring, MD 20918
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