I270, I495 Widening Hits Roadblock; Developer Ends Involvement

Several governmental officials and environmental groups, including Nature Forward, cheered Thursday’s announcement from Transurban that it “has decided not to proceed with the Maryland Express Lanes Project” that includes the widening of the I270 and I495.

The international company submitted a notice to terminate plans it had developed with the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Those plans were to replace the American Legion Bridge and add two high occupancy toll lanes in each direction from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to east Maryland 187 on 495 and on 270, from 495 north of 370 and on the 270 eastern spur from 187 to 270. No work is planned on 495 East of the 270 spur.

Accelerate Maryland Partners was chosen in February of 2021 to be the state’s preferred developer.

In a statement, Transurban announced, “However the project continues to face challenges including significant delays to environmental approvals, changing political landscape and environmental lawsuits that remain unresolved.”

The project was approved during the Gov. Larry Hogan administration, but during his campaign, Gov. Wes Moore poke out against the plans, calling for more public transit and less environmental damage.

County Executive Marc Elrich and Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles also were pleased to hear of Transurban’s withdrawal.

Elrich tweeted, “By and large, defeating something in and of itself is not itself a victory, the goal here was to get to a good solution. Now, we’ve got a better opportunity to come up with a better project, and if we do that, then it will be a victory.”

Sayles called for “long term transportation solutions that are feasible.”

Member of the Citizens Against Beltway Expansion also tweeted their support. “The retreat by Transurban is a testament to the power of grassroots opposition to a plan that put our environment, communities and wallets at risk.”

But not everyone was pleased with Transurban’s decision. Councilmember Marilyn Balcombe tweeted, “As you cheer the demise of a critical transportation project in the Upcounty, please don’t tell my constituents to just take a bus or the train until you are willing to triple an already crippling commute time.”

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