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Full Maryland Delegation Calls on MDOT to Provide Public More Details on Highway Expansion Plans, Integration of Transit

December 19, 2019

“The public deserves more information and greater transparency.”

WASHINGTON – Maryland’s full Congressional delegation is calling on the incoming Maryland Secretary of Transportation to provide the public with more details on widening I-270, widening the Beltway, and replacing the American Legion Bridge, “all of which are of great significance to our region with long-lasting effects.” In a letter to Gregory Slater, current head of the Maryland Highway Administration, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Andy Harris M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone addressed issues of concern following a meeting earlier this month with Slater and current Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete K. Rahn. The delegation letter also stressed the need for multimodal transportation options for the state rather than a reliance on a vehicles-only approach.

“The public deserves more information and greater transparency in the process of planning, constructing, and implementing any projects for widening I-270, widening the Beltway, and replacing the American Legion Bridge … more details on how and when specific properties will be affected, where tolling may impact on-ramps and exit ramps, how parkland may be impacted, and the details of the environmental impact assessments,” the lawmakers wrote. “In our meeting with you and Secretary Rahn, we were clear about the need to plan for public transit in conjunction with any expansion of our highways for vehicle traffic … We are eager to hear in greater detail how multi-modal plans will be integrated in these projects, including the guidelines you would establish for incorporating transit into any public-private partnership to construct and manage new toll lanes.”

The full letter is below and at this link. 

The Honorable Gregory Slater
Administrator, State Highway Administration
Maryland Department of Transportation
707 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Dear Administrator Slater,

Thank you for meeting with us recently in the Capitol along with Secretary Rahn. We appreciate you taking the time with the delegation to discuss a wide range of projects and issues that are important to the State and to our constituents, and we look forward to continuing to work with you.

As we look ahead to the coming year and you prepare for your new role as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, we write to reiterate some of the concerns raised in our meeting and to request follow-up information.

First, the public deserves more information and greater transparency in the process of planning, constructing, and implementing any projects for widening I-270, widening the Beltway, and replacing the American Legion Bridge, all of which are of great significance to our region with long-lasting effects. The public should have more details on how and when specific properties will be affected, where tolling may impact on-ramps and exit ramps, how parkland may be impacted, and the details of the environmental impact assessments. We understand that the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has requested detailed information in this regard, and your response to its request would be a helpful step in improving the transparency of this effort.

Second, in our meeting with you and Secretary Rahn, we were clear about the need to plan for public transit in conjunction with any expansion of our highways for vehicle traffic. A comprehensive look at our dynamic, diverse, and growing region makes clear that our transportation infrastructure needs cannot be met with a narrow, vehicles-only approach, but require a comprehensive, multi-modal strategy. Integrating public transit improvements into any projects on I-270, the Beltway, and the American Legion Bridge is of critical importance to providing greater mobility, improving the quality of daily life of our constituents, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While Secretary Rahn noted the idea that managed toll lanes make new bus service a long-term possibility, such service will not become a success or a reality without an active approach to prioritizing it and planning for it. We are eager to hear in greater detail how multi-modal plans will be integrated in these projects, including the guidelines you would establish for incorporating transit into any public-private partnership to construct and manage new toll lanes.

As with the planning for transportation improvements in the Washington Metropolitan Area, we think a comprehensive approach is needed to address congestion and transportation issues in the Baltimore region. Baltimore has long suffered from severe traffic bottlenecks that undermine its economic competitiveness, and we hope to hear your thoughts on a comprehensive, long-term, and multi-modal strategy to address this challenge.

Finally, we would like assurances that every effort will be made to finish the work on the Bay Bridge safely and as soon as possible, so that the people who travel and commute to and from the Eastern Shore of Maryland will not be affected for a prolonged period of time.

Again, thank you for meeting with us. We look forward to your candid response and to our continued partnership on important transportation issues in Maryland.

Sincerely,

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