Maryland drivers weigh in on proposed traffic relief plan
SUITLAND, Md. (ABC7) —
On Tuesday, Maryland drivers got their first chance to weigh in on a plan that would bring big changes to some of this region's busiest roads.
It was back in September of 2017 when Governor Larry Hogan announced a traffic relief plan that would add four express toll lanes, two in each direction, to the Maryland portion of the Beltway and the entire length of I-270.
Now, the Maryland Department of Transportation is seeking public input on the proposal.
The first of four open houses on the traffic relief plan took place Tuesday night in Upper Marlboro.
So what do drivers think about the possibility of adding express toll lanes on the Beltway and I-270?
"Well, it's too late. The lanes, the extra lanes should have been added years and years ago," said Connie Puryear. "All you have to do is get on the Beltway and you know it's horrible!"
Others told ABC7 they're not sure exactly how it would work, but they believe now is the time to take action to address congestion.
"I don't know if they have enough space on some of the roads to make it wider, but we need to do something," said Robbie Simmons. "We have to do something with the traffic in this area, so I think it's a good step in the right direction."
Transportation officials say the project is still in its very early stages. The feedback being gathered now is part of an environmental impact study that will take about two years to complete.
That means it will be years before any type of construction even begins.
"The vision is to have improvements added to the roadways that are going to move people, so that people aren't stuck in traffic, have a better quality of life, and can get where they need to go," said Jeffrey Folden, who is Deputy Director of the I-495 & I-270 P3 Program.
P3 stands for Public-Private Partnership. That means Maryland hopes to fund the $7.6 billion project with a public-private partnership, much like Virginia has done with the Beltway and I-95 HOT lanes. Under Hogan's plan, private companies would build the express lanes in exchange for future toll revenue.
Folden said it's still far too early to estimate how much those tolls might be. That's one of many things drivers will likely provide feedback on over the next few days.
The next open house is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. It will take place at Clarksburg High School in Clarksburg. Another is planned for Thursday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School.