Statement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich on the I-495 Decision
For Immediate Release: Wednesday 12 May
From my first day as County Executive, I have asked the Governor to take a different approach toward his plans for I-270 and Beltway expansion. I am pleased that today’s announcement changes the Recommended Preferred Alternative to “No Action” for I-495 east of Old Georgetown Road.
This change eliminates residential and commercial displacements and will be very welcome news by thousands of our concerned residents and businesses that would have been impacted. I want to thank Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of Transportation for changing direction on this part of the project and we look forward to working with them on moving forward on a better plan to alleviate traffic and protect our environment.
Regarding the ongoing plans for Phase 1 for the American Legion bridge, I-270 and 495 west of Old Georgetown Road, I urge the State to seriously consider two reversible lanes on I-270 that flow in the direction of morning and evening rush hours. Additionally, because the plan currently stops at I-370, I am concerned that the plan will change the location of the bottlenecks rather than alleviating them. If the plan does not simultaneously address transportation up to Frederick, it will create a traffic nightmare for Montgomery County, regional, and pass-through travelers on I-270 and the Beltway. Also, because of the last 14 months of the pandemic, there is a possibility that commuting patterns will change permanently due to increased telecommuting; those issues need to be considered in the plans.
I continue to have concerns that this project is a Public-Private Partnership, which, as currently structured, has the potential to be unnecessarily expensive. I believe that this infrastructure would produce a greater return on investment for the taxpayers if it were delivered without the burden of having to generate profits for outside investors. Given the willingness of the Biden Administration to invest in infrastructure, especially mass transit, we need to reach out to them to be our partners and to bring mass transit across the American Legion Bridge and bring Bus Rapid Transit south from Frederick on I-270 via reversible lanes to have a positive impact toward reversing climate change.