County and State officials introduce 7-point ‘multimodal’ congestion relief plan two days before critical Public Works vote

SILVER SPRING, MD — Less than 48 hours before the three-panel Maryland Board of Public Works is set to cast a critical vote on whether to approve Gov. Larry Hogan’s $11 billion traffic mitigation plan, more than a dozen area county and state officials on Monday introduced a 7-point plan to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway.

County and state leaders from Montgomery, Prince George’s and Frederick Counties joined one another on Monday morning at Indian Spring Terrace Local Park, where they held a press conference to introduce an alternative traffic mitigation plan.

The press conference, introducing a cohesive plan backed by local county and state leaders, comes nearly a year and a half after the governor released his own traffic plan, that includes widening Interstate 270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and adding toll lanes to the new roads.

Hogan’s plan calls for a private company to construct the new lanes and manage the tolls on the Beltway and Interstate 270.

So far, Hogan’s traffic relief plan has garnered widespread support across the region, with a recent poll indicating that 61 percent of D.C.-area residents favor adding toll roads and widening the Beltway and I-270.

Hoping for a last-minute interference play before Wednesday’s Public Works vote – an all-out effort to convince a seemingly undecided Peter Franchot (D) to vote no – Mongomery County Councilman Tom Hucker, a Democrat, today unveiled an alternative agenda for traffic relief.

Area leaders are marketing their plan as the “Locally-Supported Congestion Relief Plan.”

Hucker, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environmental Committee, unfurled in order the following infrastructure overhaul plan:

POINT 1: PRIORITIZING THE VIRGINIA TO FREDERICK CORRIDOR

Subpoints:

  • Improve the American Legion Memorial Bridge;
  • Run new managed lanes to Frederick;
  • Bring Northern Montgomery County and Frederick County residents relief immediately.

POINT 2:  MAKE IMPROVEMENTS ON THE BELTWAY EAST OF I-270

Subpoints: 

  • Make improvements within the current right-of-way, including lane metering;
  • Ensure that cars enter the beltway at the optimum frequency;
  • Use the left shoulder during peak periods.

POINT 3: RUN MANAGED LANES UP I-95 TO MARYLAND ROUTE 200 (ICC)

Subpoints: 

  • Direct southbound traffic on I-95 to take the ICC to get to Virginia;
  • Keep drivers off the beltway and raise revenue for MDOT.

POINT 4: ADD REVERSIBLE LANES NORTH OF I-37O, UP TO FREDERICK COUNTY

Subpoints: 

  • Immediate relief for commuters from Frederick County and north of Clarksburg

POINT 5: DEDICATE SOME OF THE TOLL REVENUE TO TRANSIT

POINT 6: TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENT (TDM)

Subpoints:

  • The alternative plan will manage demand rather than just increasing capacity;
  • Encourages transit use by connecting commuters to locally-serving transit, including the MARC Train, Bus Rapid Transit;
  • Improve area Park-N-Rides;
  • Encourage carpooling (more people can then use the HOV lanes);
  • Encourage electric vehicles;
  • Encourage telecommuting.

POINT 7: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Subpoints:

  • Use the managed lanes to connect to local priorities;
  • Run down to National Harbor and connect to transit over the Wilson Bridge to Alexandria and upriver to the Amazon’s second headquarters and National Landing.

Hucker said many of the ideas released in the alternative plan are “not new ideas.”

“They have the support of our local officials who were behind me and dozens that are not here today, “Hucker said.

“It’s a balanced plan, not a hundred percent highway plan.”

SUMMARY OF THE ALTERNATIVE PLAN:

  • Increases transit use;
  • No roads will be widened;
  • Employs “Transportation Demand Management;”
  • Encourages ridesharing and telecommuting;
  • Consistent with local master plans;
  • Does not displace residents;
  • Does not take large swaths of parklands;
  • Provides immediate relief for Montgomery County residents north of Clarksburg and for Frederick County commuters;
  • Drives economic growth by connecting to economic development priorities (e.g., National Harbor).

Hucker concluded with a request that Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D) “remand the pre-solicitation request report back to MDOT and direct them to adopt those changes, and to win the support of the local elected officials behind me.”

A Miner Detail will update this story with remarks from each of the elected officials who attended Monday’s press conference.

The list of participants at Monday’s press conferenced included:

Montgomery County

  • Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Executive
  • Nancy Navarro, President, Montgomery County Council
  • Sidney Katz, Vice President, Montgomery County Council
  • Tom Hucker, Transportation Chair, Montgomery County Council
  • Evan Glass, Montgomery County Council
  • Jared Solomon, State Delegate, Montgomery County
  • Bridget Newton, Mayor of Rockville

Prince George’s County

  • Todd Turner, Chair, Prince George’s County Council
  • Tom Dernoga, Prince George’s County Council
  • Jolene Ivey, Prince George’s County Council
  • Mary Lehman, State Delegate, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties
  • Jazz Lewis, State Delegate, Prince George’s County
  • Fazlul Kabir, College Park City Council

Fredrick County

  • Kai Hagen, Fredrick County Council

Feedback/Questions? ryan@aminerdetail.com


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Ryan Miner is Editor in Chief, Founder and Publisher of AMinerDetail.com. Miner is the sole reporter and columnist at AMinerDetail.com, covering Maryland news, politics, business, education, national, state and local government. Miner is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.

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