Friday, September 22, 2017

Gov. Hogan proposes massive traffic congestion relief plan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposed the largest traffic congestion relief plan in the nation on Thursday, which would widen the entire Capital Beltway (I-495) within Maryland, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD-295). The $9 billion plan would add tolled Express Lanes to each road, but not charge for use of existing lanes.

To expand capacity on the B-W Parkway, the state would have to be given control of the road by the federal government. Hogan has begun preliminary discussions with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke regarding this issue, he said. A private partner will be solicited by the state to construct and operate the new Express Lanes on all three highways. Because of the public-private nature of the plan, Hogan can largely move forward on his own to implement it, another plus in what is sure to be a contentious election year legislative session in Annapolis.

In a press conference yesterday, Hogan called his plan "unprecedented" and "absolutely transformative." The popular governor predicted that the congestion relief would assist the entire region, not just Maryland residents. Aside from the clear practical benefits, the highway plan is a brilliant political move, as many of Hogan's rivals have already taken the bait and come out opposing traffic congestion relief(!).

Other politicians, even those not in Hogan's party, smartly endorsed the plan. Robin Ficker, a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Executive who has called for such a plan for I-270 for years, praised the governor's proposal. "We say thank you to Governor Larry Hogan for putting forth a plan to widen the 495 beltway and I 270," Montgomery County Young Republicans VP Dan McHugh said in a statement. "This will help alleviate the terrible traffic problems we have here in Montgomery County!! This is what happens when you elect Republicans - we get things done!!" Patricia Fenati, a GOP candidate for the House of Delegates in District 14, recalled the many hours she has spent over the years driving from the upcounty into the District for work. "Finally, a hero has come along to look at that problem, and come up with a solution," she said of Hogan.

Predictable criticisms and the old "induced demand" canard came from organizations engaged in the War on Cars in our region following yesterday's announcement. "Induced demand" theory has never been proven, as missing pieces of our regional freeway system have been to blame for growing congestion on our few highways. For example, there is no second Potomac River crossing, and no M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended, to relieve traffic on the American Legion Bridge and I-270. And the Capital Beltway was doomed to be jammed when anti-car forces foiled the original plan to run I-95 through Washington, D.C. That dumb move sends East Coast traffic around our Beltway 365 days a year, creating massive traffic jams.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eventually the highways had to be widened, and to do it without taxpayers paying a dime is a good plan as long as not all of the lanes are tolled. However, the counties affected (especially Frederick County) should realize that this isn't a license to continue the sprawl-type growth patterns that have dominated for the last 50 years. Otherwise we're back at square one, except with even less open space and worse air quality.

There should also be some sort of equivalent transit investment to complement this. The Purple Line and $500 in new Metro funding was a good start. Serious MARC improvements should be next.

The best part of the plan is that it again soundly rejects the ridiculous notion of another Potomac crossing.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the years and years of construction and all the fun that will ensue. And you thought traffic was bad now...

Anonymous said...

8:38am aka the Angry Intern.
Underpaid, angry and taking it out on Dyer.

Boyce Bowles said...

It shows sensible Republicans can get big things done.

Anonymous said...

I hope they widen Leland street in bethesda too.

Anonymous said...

"It shows sensible Republicans can get big things done"

Things like turning over public assets to private shareholders! Brilliant!!

This is the biggest boondoggle I've ever heard. Meanwhile Metro is starving for capital funds after years of neglect. Fix Metro, build the Purple Line and the CCT. Then and only then can we discuss 270 & 495.

Anonymous said...

"Other politicians, even those not in Hogan's party, smartly endorsed the plan."

Then you go on to offer three quotes from Republicans who don't even hold public office (and therefore have absolutely no influence on the proposal). Where are the people who aren't members of Hogan's party? How about people actually in office?

Anonymous said...

"the Capital Beltway was doomed to be jammed when anti-car forces foiled the original plan to run I-95 through Washington, D.C. That dumb move sends East Coast traffic around our Beltway 365 days a year, creating massive traffic jams."

Can you imagine what traffic would be like on the Southwest Freeway and the 14th Street Bridge would be like if you dumped the Maine-to-Florida traffic on it? Can you imagine how sharply the quality of life in the inner city would drop if you did that?

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer tries to erase his past:

Gazette: "Do you favor widening the Beltway? Do you favor toll lanes? How would you pay for them and how would implement them into the system?"

Robert Dyer: "I absolutely oppose widening the Beltway, especially when it threatens homes in my District. I oppose toll lanes and toll roads, as they penalize low-income drivers."

Robert Dyer said...

11:41: You keep bringing this up, when you're not dusting off the picture of me on your nightstand. You are referring to A DIFFERENT PLAN, which would have involved demolishing homes in Bethesda, in 2006. Over ten years ago. In regards to tolls, yes, I oppose tolling existing roads and lanes. That is totally different from building additional lanes and tolling them, or new toll highways, which I support. Again, at the time, George Leventhal and others were floating the idea of tolling existing roads. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

"You are referring to A DIFFERENT PLAN"

Hmm, that's not what your OWN WORDS say. Perhaps you should have been MORE SPECIFIC.

Anonymous said...

We've widened 270 in the past in an attempt to reduce congestion. It didn't work. Why would it this time? (Hint: It won't.)

Anonymous said...

I don't get the notion that widening a road won't reduce congestion. Should we _narrow_ the road instead to reduce congestion? Why not make I-270 only 1 lane wide?

Robert: Will the HOT lanes be free for HOV-3, like they are in Virginia?

Anonymous said...

Oh also someone brought up Leland Street. I filed a formal complaint with the Office of Inspector General last week. The reason being that MCDOT did not follow procedure, and wasted taxpayer funds to put up the barriers then take them down again. They chose not to take it up as an investigation at this time.

Anonymous said...

@3:24 -- Widening the road will, in fact, reduce congestion -- but only for a short time. The last time they widened 270 it reduced congestion for about 5 years; then it was back to a parking lot (see link posted by 3:07). Widening the road will increase capacity but over the long term congestion will not be eliminated.

Anonymous said...

Saith Dyer @ 12:09 PM Dyer Time: "You are referring to A DIFFERENT PLAN, which would have involved demolishing homes in Bethesda, in 2006."

So what's "DIFFERENT" about the new proposal? Why wouldn't it require demolishing homes in Bethesda, in 2017?

Anonymous said...

Hogan doesn't look like that picture anymore....he's gone full Fat F*%K. Must ride in a car a lot...not really a cyclist.

Anonymous said...

Saith Dyer @ 12:09 PM - "I oppose tolling existing roads and lanes. That is totally different from building additional lanes and tolling them, or new toll highways, which I support."

So you want to exclude low-income drivers from the Second Crossing and other new roads, and restrict them to old, crappy congested roads? How white of you.

Barwood Sucks said...

Major transport solution announcement and 4:53pm is focused on Hogan's weight.

Robert Dyer said...

3:07: The reason I-270 got congested after widening was that the County approved development upcounty during that time which required the M-83 Highway to be built to provide the road capacity, and escape valve for I-270. The Council approved all of the development, but never built the road!

That also doesn't even take into account the explosive growth in Frederick County over the same period. Not everyone can afford to live in the Town of Chevy Chase or in a $2500+ a month luxury apartment. They have the same right to be able to commute from cheaper homes further away. Elites trying to restrict movement and punish the less-wealthy is not a winning political platform.

4:43: Hogan gained weight because of his CANCER TREATMENT, moron. He's been on an exercise program for the election and is losing weight now, not gaining. Have some compassion and respect for the guy.

3:24: They should be, but that's probably something that will be argued over, like EVs in HOV lanes.

Robert Dyer said...

2:40: The 2017 plan was not on the table with the 2006 plan for comparison in 2006. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

"That also doesn't even take into account the explosive growth in Frederick County over the same period. Not everyone can afford to live in the Town of Chevy Chase or in a $2500+ a month luxury apartment. They have the same right to be able to commute from cheaper homes further away. Elites trying to restrict movement and punish the less-wealthy is not a winning political platform."

Says the guy who opposes building affordable housing in the inner suburbs.

Anonymous said...

In MD, EVs can use the HOV lanes currently on I-270 (I know, I have an EV and the special HOV sticker). My guess is they won't allow it for the HOT lanes, as it affects revenue a lot. Same in VA -- no EV HOV exception on the HOT lanes.

I do hope they allow HOV-3 to ride free though.

Anonymous said...

@ Dyer 6:03 Dyer time / 9:03 Eastern time: So what happens when we widen the road? Let's follow this to its logical conclusion: Suddenly, traffic positively SAILS through to Frederick! So now Frederick County (and parts of Howard, Carroll and Washington counties while we're at it) are going to be easily accessible by car. Development, here we come! Suddenly 270 is just as congested as it was before.

So now what? Do we widen the road AGAIN? Eminent domain homes in Bethesda and Rockville so residents of Frederick and Hagerstown have a faster commute home?

Forget it.

Anonymous said...

@7:16 What do you propose then? The population in MD, the DC area, and the US are all increasing. 20 million more people added in the last 10 years. People need a place to live.

Yes, they may move to Frederick, or to MoCo, or beyond. Unless the population suddenly decreases, they will need a way to get around also, so why not improve the roads?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:05 PM - How about building more housing in the inner suburbs, so that people don't need to live so far away from where they work, shop, eat, and go for entertainment?

Robert Dyer said...

9:21: The suburbs are already fully developed. There is no such thing as infinite growth. There is also a maximum number of people you can concentrate in one place without negative effects of all kinds.

We've got plenty of downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring left to develop, as well as White Flint. There's no need to stack overlay urban sprawl on top of successful suburban neighborhoods. In fact, the housing already approved by the County is enough to cover the projected population increase through 2040, according to MWCOG.

It's time to pull up the ladders in our suburban neighborhoods to preserve the quality of life, and to limp forward with the meager infrastructure we have.

Now, of course, the MoCo cartel has other plans, including demolition of SFH suburban neighborhoods to put up apartment towers, rezoning every SFH lot to allow for at least 2 houses on it, and, according to Dan Reed, a cartel spokesman and propagandist, the transformation of large homes in Bethesda and Chevy Chase into boarding houses. What fate will befall the current wealthy owners of those homes that will place their deeds into the hands of the cartel, Reed did specify....

Voters are rejecting this dystopian future offered by Hans Riemer, Casey Anderson, et al.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe in induced demand and all the studies showing the problems with increasing highway capacity?

I like the widening plan, by the way, it just seems like this plan and the purple line plan and the BRT plan are all short sighted.

Anonymous said...

Great news! Where did you hear about it from?

Anonymous said...

"The suburbs are already fully developed."

Simply false. Take Westbard, for instance! ;-) Or the White Flint/Twinbrook/Rockville/Shady Grove corridor along 355 -- plenty of room for growth there. The Viers Mill corridor. Downtown Crown. The list goes on. Walkable, convenient communities are in demand -- not by everyone, but by many. We need more of those, and robust transit to support it. This includes sensible investment in Metro to restore it to proper operation; enhanced MARC service; and the CCT.

Roads, by contrast, are a bad investment. Not only is there the issue of induced demand but with the enhancements to automobiles on the horizon (perhaps even self-driving), congestion will be relieved through technology. Building more lanes is a short-sighted waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Why should SFH owners not be allowed to redevelop their property as they see fit? Why not let the free market decide?

Anyway, this is a bit of a red herring in relation to Westbard, given that none of the properties being redeveloped in Westbard are SFHs.

Anonymous said...

@7:14 Most houses in residential areas of Bethesda are zoned R-90. You can't throw up townhouses or an apartment building in their place, which is probably reaosonable. It would be way out of place.

Anonymous said...

"The suburbs are already fully developed."

Lol 80% of Frederick County (and shrinking) is still farmland or forest. I'm sure the county commissioners are gift with joy of how many more Urbanas they can build with the I-270 widening.

Anonymous said...

1:36 PM - 7:14 AM here. I think you may have missed my point. I'm questioning why areas need to remain in a specific zoning category in perpetuity. Rigid, low-density zoning perpetuates suburban sprawl.

Anonymous said...

Saith Dyer: "There is also a maximum number of people you can concentrate in one place without negative effects of all kinds."

The density of Montgomery County isn't anywhere near of that of New York City (excluding Staten Island), Hong Kong or Tokyo. Yet people love living in those cities.

Anonymous said...

@5:53 Because letting SFH owners build structures they're not zoned for, like a gas station, apartment or shop, is bad for their neighbors. People bought in the neighborhood assuming a certain zoning, so to change that later affects everyone who lives there.

When I bought my house, I read the Master Plan to see if the road near me was planned to be widened, as that would require taking land from the right of way on my property. It wasn't. I find the Chevy Chase Purple Line opponents where it will go in their backyard amusing -- it was clear all along that the CSX freight line was going to be used as a rail line in the future. No surprises there.

As for there being plenty of room for more housing in downcounty, I can't think of a single vacant lot for an SFH in most of Bethesda (and developers would be salivating at the thought), but we could indeed take office parks and convert them to housing, like what is being done in the Rock Spring area.

Anonymous said...

@4:03 I don't fully get the induced demand thing. Yes, I understand that if you widen roads, people will start using them more... but then shouldn't the same apply to transit. If we build the Purple Line, won't the number of people using it increase over time? Or let's say we shortened time between trains on the Red Line to reduce crowding -- wouldn't those just get crowded too?

In other words, why is induced demand used as a reason _not_ to build more roads, but not used as a reason _to_ build more public transit? "Hey, let's build another subway line.. people will start using it!"

Robert Dyer said...

6:43: Westbard is fully-developed. When you talk about Frederick County, that is the exurbs, not the suburbs.

2:26: You are correct, but I would point out that the original plan for the rail route was a single track on the old railbed, with no trail. If that were the actual Purple Line plan today, I would agree 100% that no one should be complaining. Where they are justified, is in the width of the new Purple Line project, and the impact on trees that survived many decades just fine as freight trains rolled by, only to now be cut down.

Anonymous said...

Westbard is absolutely not "fully developed." There is plenty of room for additional density.

Where are the supportive quotes from non-Republicans you alluded to? Was that just #FakeNews?

Anonymous said...

Comentatees on this topic that show resistance against Maryland highway building are nothing more than a bunch of Maryland Hating Virgnia Tax Paying suspected racist scumbags.....