Maryland took a huge step forward Wednesday toward adding toll lanes along Interstate 270 and the Beltway.
After a heated debate, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 in favor of a massive plan to widen and put new toll lanes along I-270 and the Beltway in Maryland.
Basically, the vote allows private companies to bid on the project. Without the vote, the $11 billion plan likely would have died.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and others have accused Gov. Larry Hogan of shutting them out of the process.
“You did a press conference and announced what you were going to do before you talked to anybody,” Elrich argued to the governor Wednesday. “We want solutions.”
“The press conference, the county executive before you was there after we had already met with him,” Hogan replied. “It was two years ago, and Ike Leggett was there and a part of the discussion.”
Elrich released a statement Wednesday evening saying the vote is “a step in the right direction” but arguing the plan should include the American Legion Bridge. He also wants the plan to make it easier for traffic from Interstate 95 to use the Intercounty Connector to get to I-270, allowing people to get to I-270 faster and removing that traffic from the Beltway.
The governor also made some concessions, saying the project would be broken into three parts. The I-270 corridor would be the first phase, followed by the Montgomery County side of the Beltway, then the Prince George’s County side of the Beltway.
That eased some concerns the project was moving too fast.
“For the first time, the governor has indicated a willingness to accommodate local concerns, the concerns of local residents and local elected officials,” Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker said.
But there is still immense opposition with some saying it hasn’t been thought through.
“I think this thing is going to either fall apart or it’s going to change, and when it changes, something is going to give,” said Josh Tolken of Maryland Sierra Club.