Maryland Unveils Options for Widening I-270, Capital Beltway

For somewhere around $10 billion, the state could help commuters shave 30 percent off the time of their I-270 or Capital Beltway commutes, according to information released this week by the Maryland Department of Transportation.

About 34 homeowners and four businesses would have to relocate, according to the information contained in a 16-page document.

Revealed Thursday at a public session in Landover, the document discusses the proposed widening of the two highways, and it will be part of other public sessions. Here are the sessions scheduled in Montgomery County:

  • Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon at Thomas Pyle Middle School, 6311 Wilson Lane, Bethesda;
  • Wednesday, April 24, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Eastern Middle School, 300 University Blvd. East, Silver Spring;
  • Thursday, April 25, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Thomas Wooton High School, 2700 Wooton Parkway, Rockville; and
  • Thursday, May 16, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown.

The project involves 70 miles of highway from the I-270-I-370 interchange to the Capital Beltway, then west to the American Legion Bridge and east to Md. 5 in southern Prince George’s County.

Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled the plan to expand I-270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in September 2017.

In September 2018, Hogan said the project would not mean the state would take people’s homes to widen the highways. A month later, transportation secretary Pete Rahn said the same thing.

Hogan: ‘We’re Not Going to Take Your Houses’

The widening would be financed, designed, constructed and maintained through a public-private partnership. A corporation would recoup costs through the tolls it charges on HOT (high occupancy toll lanes) or ETL (express toll lanes) lanes.

Traffic on I-270 is expected to grow 15 percent — from 259,000 average annual daily traffic in 2018 to 259,000 in 2040, the document says. During the same time period, traffic on the Capital Beltway is expected to grow 11 percent — from 253,000 average annual daily traffic to 282,000.

HOT lanes are designed so that single-occupancy vehicles would pay a toll, which could change depending on time of day and level of congestion.

ETLs would allow any automobile, regardless of the occupants, to use once it paid a variably priced toll.

The study, which provided the information for the document, focuses on road alternatives.

“Although transit brings revenue through fares, it is not financially viable because it requires a major government investment/subsidies and the state does not have these financial resources,” the document says.

The document lists seven potential options.

Alternative 1: No build.

Alternative 5: Add one HOT lane on the Capital Beltway and convert one existing HOV lane on I-270 to a HOT lane. Cost: $7.7 billion to $8.6 billion.

Alternative 8: Add two ETLs in each direction on I-495 and add one ETL and retain one HOV lane in each direction on I-270. Cost: $8.8 billion to $9.7 billion.

Alternative 9: Add two HOT lanes in each direction on the Capital Beltway, and convert one existing HOV lane to a HOT lane and add one HOT lane in each direction on I-270. Cost: $8.7 billion to $9.6 billion

Alternative 10: Two ETLs in each direction on the Capital Beltway and on I-270, and retain one HOV lane in each direction on I-270. Cost: $9 billion to $10 billion.

Alternative 13B: Add two HOT lanes in each direction on the Capital Beltway, and convert existing HOV lanes into two HOT reversible lanes on I-270. Cost: $8.6 billion to $9.5 billion.

Alternative 13C: Add two ETLs in each direction on the Capital Beltway and add two reversible ETL lanes on I-270 while retaining HOV lanes. Cost: $8.9 billion to $9.87 billion.

Alternative 9 and 10 performed the most favorably because they both reduced average delay by more than 30 percent compared to the No Build option, the document says.

According to the document, Alternative 5 would take 25 homes and three businesses on the Capital Beltway, from the George Washington Parkway to the I-95 interchange. It would also take one business from I-95 to Md. 5.

The other alternatives would take 34 homes and four businesses.

The document says that now that alternatives have been chosen, the transportation department can proceed with environmental assessments, which would be complete by early winter 2020.

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

Comments

3 Responses to “Maryland Unveils Options for Widening I-270, Capital Beltway”

  1. Avatar
    On April 12, 2019 at 9:49 pm responded with... #

    What the hell !!! why not widen 270 up to Frederick Or the PA line. And how about a “rail system” from Frderick to the Metro station in Gaithersburg …. Why in the hell does Montgomery County always get the friggin money.

  2. Avatar
    On April 13, 2019 at 9:14 am responded with... #

    From the announcement from September 2017 it said that I270 will be 4 lanes to Frederick. Not sure what’s happening with that. Might be part of another project, not sure.

  3. Avatar
    On April 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm responded with... #

    The prior response is 100% correct. The I270 gridlock starts on the beltway each day between 3 and 4PM. The backup starts from Tyson’s Corner up to the I270/495 spur and continues up I270 to where the road is reduced from 4 lanes to 2 lanes in Germantown. Every day at rush hour, its bumper to bumper from Tysons Corner to Germantown. Look at the gas and unproductive time we are wasting…this is terrible.

    It is crucial that I270 is widened from Germantown all the way to Frederick MD and beyond. If this stretch of road is not widen, we will be wasting billions of taxpayers money widening roads that end up backing up from Germantown on I270.

    I hope this is being considered. This is not rocket science.




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