Rahn Provides Some Answers on I-270, I-495 Projects

Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn answers a question from the County Council.

When Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled his $9 billion traffic congestion relief plan he left a lot of questions unanswered.

  • What was he going to do with the American Legion Bridge?
  • Why add four lanes to I-270 when two reversible lanes could satisfy?
  • How can the state expand the Capital Beltway when homes, parks and Holy Cross Hospital are built next to the busy highway?

Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn came to Rockvillle on Thursday to meet with councilmembers to start to answer some of those questions. Council President Roger Berliner was largely pleased.

“I thought it was a very constructive dialog. I think he’s a truly constructive person,” Berliner said.

Despite Berliner’s reaction, Rahn made it clear that the laws governing the project prevented him from being specific about details. The state envisions a public-private partnership (P3) to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the new lanes of traffic.

Under a P3, state officials can say what they want, but they can’t provide information that would direct potential concessionaires toward specific ideas.

“We know we want — we want four additional lanes of travel,” Rahn said after the meeting. “How those are configured will be up to the concessionaires when they bring their proposals forward. That’s why we’re not being prescriptive as to how they accomplish it. We’re being very clear in what we want, and it’s up to them to bring us the how.”

But he did say Hogan wanted a solution for the American Legion Bridge, a chokepoint between Maryland and Virginia, and that the two states have had conversations so “our systems can link up in smooth way for people using express toll lanes.”

Does that mean four more lanes to the American Legion Bridge? Rahn said he didn’t know.

As for reversible lanes versus four permanent lanes for I-270, Rahn said the state was thinking long term. Growth in Frederick means the extra lanes would be necessary.

For I-495, Rahn said bidders will have to add capacity in the constrained spaces along the Beltway.

“We don’t have to come up with the how. We just have to come up with the what,” Rahn told the councilmembers.

Councilmember Tom Hucker wanted to pin Rahn down on a likely toll for I-270. Some estimates have been $40 from Frederick to Rockville.

“We don’t know what the toll would be, but if a concessionaire tries to charge too much, people won’t use it. If they charge too little, they won’t get a return on their investment,” Rahn said.

Previous Post:

Hogan Project Would Widen I-270, Beltway, Md. 295 and Add Tolls (VIDEO)

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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


2 Responses to “Rahn Provides Some Answers on I-270, I-495 Projects”

  1. Avatar
    On November 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm responded with... #

    “Why add four lanes to I-270 when two reversible lanes could satisfy?” This question demonstrates how out of touch members on the Montgomery County Council are with Upper Montgomery County, which represents approximately half of the County area and over 30% of residents. We are also not sure how Councilmembers who live in Takoma Park or Silver Spring or Bethesda or White Flint would know what the needs of Upper Montgomery County residents are. We question the motivation of these Councilmembers.

    “Councilmember Tom Hucker wanted to pin Rahn down on a likely toll for I-270. Some estimates have been $40 from Frederick to Rockville.” Why does it matter whether the variable toll is $40 or $100 or $5? The toll will be priced as such for the operator to guarantee certain minimum performance threshold for the toll facility and make a return on their investment. People make choices everyday, like, where to get their coffee, what kind of car to buy, where to send their kids to school, what kind of house to live in, etc. This is not like the exorbitant Transit Impact Tax that the Council and County Executive wanted to levy only certain residents of the County to get their pet BRT projects going.

  2. Avatar
    On November 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm responded with... #

    All of this money but 0 talk about fixing all the other major bottle necks on 270 to include the local lanes. Just a little research on daily traffic and the bad bottlenecks the poorly designed highway creates. One example, why would you place an HOV onramp into the far left passing lane from Montgomery mall? Try getting from Shady Grove metro to the main 270 North lanes during rush hour, best of luck!

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