Governor Larry Hogan’s proposal to expand I-270, the Capital Beltway (I-495) and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD-295) could have a significant impact on the residents of Greenbelt, officials say. The $9 billion project, announced in a press release by Hogan’s office on September 21, would add four express toll lanes, two in each direction, to I-270 and I-495. The expansion would cover the entire Maryland portion of I-495 from the American Legion Memorial Bridge to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.
The new lanes would be built and administered by a private contractor in what would be the largest public-private highway partnership in North America, the press release said. Four lanes would also be added to MD-295, the control of which would first be transferred to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The new and existing lanes would then be built and administered by the MDTA. Hogan has already begun the transfer negotiations with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the press release said.
Greenbelt officials were surprised by Hogan’s announcement and are still gathering more specific details about the project and its potential impact on Greenbelt. “We were caught off guard,” Mayor Emmett Jordan said. “We were very shocked and concerned about the proposal.” The proposed expansion to MD-295 is especially problematic to the council members. It would likely require the removal of some of the Parkway’s natural landscape and possibly encroach into Greenbelt, they said. “The Parkway cuts right through our city,” Jordan said. “I’m not sure how (Hogan) could add more lanes without taking down more trees or expanding into Greenbelt somehow.” Hogan’s office touted the congestion relief that the 12 new lanes would bring to the Baltimore Washington area. According to the press release, the area is the most congested in the nation, and Maryland has the second-longest commute times nationally.
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