From the Office of Governor Larry Hogan: Governor Larry Hogan today issued the following statement and sent a letter calling on President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to immediately reverse the acting federal highway administrator’s decision to overrule the agency’s professional staff and delay the State of Maryland’s Traffic Relief Plan for the American Legion Bridge and the Capital Beltway:
“President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg pledged to support the states’ most critical infrastructure projects to create jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. I united governors from both parties around an infrastructure plan, and held a summit in Annapolis to help pass the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“But now we have learned that the acting federal highway administrator plans to further delay Maryland’s transformative Traffic Relief Plan. We were completely blindsided by this action, particularly given that every comprehensive analysis we submitted had already been reviewed and approved by the agency. In fact, only a few weeks ago, the agency’s professional experts praised our study as a model for other states. This is just the latest example of how the acting administrator is undermining the law and longstanding practices that govern the approval of critical state projects. We cannot stand for this irresponsible and incompetent federal overreach.
“I am calling on President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg to reverse this acting administrator’s rogue decision and to fulfill the agency’s commitments. If action is not taken to immediately rectify this improper decision, we are prepared to use every tool at our disposal—up to and including legal action. While we do not want it to come to that, these reckless and apparently politically-motivated actions may leave us with no other choice.
“In advancing this project over the past six years, we have already had to overcome numerous attempts at sabotage by some Montgomery County politicians pandering to a small minority of pro-traffic activists. State transportation officials have gone above and beyond to address all of these frivolous concerns over and over again by conducting extensive public engagement far exceeding regulatory requirements, significantly reducing impacts, studying alternatives, and expanding multimodal mobility and connectivity. Yet they continue to try to obstruct a project that an overwhelming majority of their constituents desperately want.
“On top of that, we have had to contend with two years of unwarranted federal delays. These delays have increased the cost of the project by more than 20% amid unprecedented inflation, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and interest rate increases, potentially costing Maryland taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. As a result, I have directed state transportation officials to initiate the process of applying for a federal bridge grant to mitigate these federally-driven cost increases.
“This has been called the most important and transformative transportation project for the National Capital Region in the last 50 years, and with so many Marylanders still stuck in soul-crushing traffic, we are not going to let politics delay it any further.”
Background Information on FHWA Delays
The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study has been delayed by two years, much of which was caused directly by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- Delay of Preliminary Alternatives Workshops: 2-month delay
- Request for Screened Alternatives Milestone instead of going to Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study: 3-month delay
- Federal government shutdown in 2019: 1-month delay
- Change of the Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study after other agencies concurred: 2-month delay
- Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comment Period Extension: 1-month delay
- Change in Preferred Alternative, prepare Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and 15-day extension of comment period: 9-month delay
- Separate Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision: 2-month delay
- Creating an extra-regulatory “comment” period during the availability period of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and demanding responses: 1-month delay