Wednesday, November 13, 2019

MD, VA agree on Capital Beltway Accord, American Legion Bridge widening

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a historic Capital Beltway Accord at a joint appearance at the Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, D.C. yesterday. The bi-state agreement, which does not yet specify a timetable for completion, would widen the failing American Legion Bridge between the two states by adding tolled Express Lanes on and near the bridge. The states would split the cost, with the heaviest burden being picked up by Maryland, and both states expecting tolls will cover the entire $1 billion projected expense.

The accord also puts the backburnered Hogan plan for Express Lanes on the Beltway between the Legion Bridge and I-95 back on the table. No details on the staging of the that project in relation to the bridge widening were put forward Tuesday. The bridge changes would almost certainly fail to solve congestion if the new Express Lanes end at River Road instead of I-95, as they would only create another choke point there.

Adding Express Lanes to the Beltway and I-270 won't take the place of a new Potomac River crossing, which would take about 25% of rush hour traffic off of the Legion Bridge, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study earlier this decade. They won't provide the direct access to Dulles International Airport from Montgomery County that international businesspeople have made clear they require to consider locating their headquarters here.

In fact, without a new Potomac River bridge north of the Legion Bridge - and major changes to County and Maryland tax and regulation schemes, Tuesday's accord would simply be another victory for Virginia and the crafty Northam from an economic development standpoint. Improved travel times for non-Dulles-related traffic on the Beltway would certainly help all of us, and are absolutely worthy of public support. But without direct Dulles access and a competitive business climate, the Beltway accord will simply reinforce our position as the bedroom community for the booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

The accord is a win for Hogan, however, as he considers a surprisingly-strong bid for the U.S. Senate. If he stands his ground on the Potomac-to-I-95 Beltway Express Lanes this time, Hogan will have delivered a start on major traffic relief on both failing interstates in Montgomery County in time for the 2022 election. Hogan was also the governor to finally get the new Nice Bridge project moving after decades of delay; that structure is scheduled to be well under-construction by the time he would take on Van Hollen.

Hogan hasn't even been grandstanding to the extent he could on transportation. He has quietly delivered new improvements on I-270 - such as new feeder lanes that allow entering vehicles from some ramps to proceed on the freeway without having to merge - over the last year. Surprisingly, he hasn't called a press conference to crow about these small but significant traffic flow upgrades.

Considering Van Hollen's weak legislative record, scandalous history of conspiring to reduce African-American turnout in his 2016 primary run against Congresswoman Donna Edwards (earning a rebuke from Hillary Clinton herself in the process), and Hogan's bipartisan support, this could be a top-tier contest. Neither man excites the core base of his party. But if these transportation projects move forward, Hogan will have done something Van Hollen hasn't in over a decade - deliver actual change for his constituents.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do we need a second bridge to ease connection to Dulles, when we will soon have an easy two-seat ride to Dulles from southern MoCo?

I am always suprised at how few people consider taking transit to the three area airports. It’s so easy to simply hop on the train, and ride without any traffic concerns, and without paying for parking while you are a on your trip. Even take a cheap ride share to the nearest Metro station if you live too far from to walk to a station, or bad weather. Yes, early Sunday morning flights are a bit difficult, but otherwise it’s so easy. I can easily leave my apartment door in downtown Bethesda, and arrive at my airport gate at Reagan in one hour or less. That includes walking to the station (with luggage), Metro transfer time, going through TSA, and walking to the gate. Yes, maybe a bit longer than getting dropped off at Dulles or BWI, as long as there is no traffic, but it is entirely stress free.

Unlike most cities in the US, this area is blessed with three great airports, and all will soon all three will be directly accessible by rail. Even easier and often cheaper if you are going to somewhere on the east coast, like Philly or New York , is to just hop on the Red Line to Union Station and use Amtrak. You arrive right in the urban cores, instead off suburban airports. Amtrak is so much more comfortable that the cattle cars of most airlines.

Anonymous said...

I HOPE THE NEW BRIDGE WILL INCLUDE A MCDONALDS DRIVE-THRU LANE !!!

Anonymous said...

@ 7:16 - wonder if the drive thru on the bridge will be open 24 hours, unlike Dyer's go to McDonalds on River Road?

Anonymous said...

I just realized that the McDonald's at Wisconsin & Van Ness is open 24 hours (although it doesn't have a drive-thru lane). Maybe that explains Dyer's sudden interest in Tenleytown?

Anonymous said...

How does a new American Legion bridge not improve access to Dulles? Another bridge would only benefit residents of Gaithersburg and points north. Most business travelers would leave from Rockville, Bethesda, and Silver Spring.

There is literally no good reason for another crossing, and Hogan is smart enough to realize that. No private sector company would fund it leaving the state to cover billions in cost, it would require razing a lot of homes, and wouldn't help commuters to Tysons.

Anonymous said...

Hogan decides to run rough shod over the bi-county MN-CPPC in not giving them prior notice of the bridge plan. How presidential of him to do so. The Capper-Cramton Act was adopted by Congress to preserve and protect open-space in the Maryland section of the region, against future development and its impacts. But hey, who needs to protect the parkland when future populations will more likely be vaping fresh air to stay alive.Very UNDIPLOMATIC Gov.

Anonymous said...

According to Robert Dyer, county parks are "highway facilities".

Robert Dyer said...

9:18: Tight environmental restrictions on highways were actually the work of development firms that specialized in urban development, for personal profit under the guise of "environmentalism" and Astroturf "freeway fights."

7:45: "There is literally no good reason for another crossing..." LOL - maybe 25% less traffic on the Legion bridge, ending MoCo's over twenty year failure to attract a single major corporate HQ, CEOs have told us they want direct airport access, divert mass traffic off of I-270 at I-370, grow the biotech and (now-nonexistent) aerospace sector along I-270 from Bethesda to Clarksburg, a lack of bridges for evacuation during emergencies or road closures, etc. etc.

Hogan is not "smart" if he thinks a new Potomac crossing isn't needed. Not surprisingly, he's failed achieve much in economic development for the state so far.

6:22: How many corporate officers at major companies do you know who take public transit to airports or business meetings? Let's try to use common sense here.

Anonymous said...

If it's just "corporate officers" about whom you're concerned, the best and most cost-effective solution for quick access to international airports would be a network of heliports.

Anonymous said...

"Tight environmental restrictions on highways were actually the work of development firms that specialized in urban development, for personal profit under the guise of 'environmentalism' and Astroturf 'freeway fights.'"

How many hours each day do you spend coming up with delusions such as this one?

Robert Dyer said...

9:08: I do actual historical research to confirm such assertions,so it requires no invention of delusions on my part. Do some deep research into the players of the so-called "freeway fights" and their affiliations, and you'll quickly realize the whole thing was an Astroturf farce.

8:54: I'd be in favor of rooftop helipads. You can't helicopter to Shanghai or New Delhi, though.

Anonymous said...

"I do actual historical research to confirm such assertions,so it requires no invention of delusions on my part. Do some deep research into the players of the so-called 'freeway fights' and their affiliations, and you'll quickly realize the whole thing was an Astroturf farce."

Ha ha... "your word is mud", as my parents used to say.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_revolt

Robert Dyer said...

9:22: What a moronic response - the article you link to has no detail for the U.S. whatsoever, much less detail on the actual players (who tried to hide behind the cloak of a "public movement" they actually ginned up themselves with falsehoods, exaggerations, and hyperbole). They didn't try hard enough, because I've found them in the public records and historical accounts. Most weren't even residents, and some even "fought" in more than one location.

Even the "correct" Wikipedia article hides the names of virtually all of those players in favor of the "popular uprising" fiction.

Anonymous said...

"They didn't try hard enough, because I've found them in the public records and historical accounts."

LOL, sure you did, you delusional fuckwit.

Anonymous said...

Dyer you are so full of deflective rebuttals its hilarious.
"Tight environmental restrictions on highways were actually the work of development firms that specialized in urban development, for personal profit under the guise of "environmentalism" and Astroturf "freeway fights."
The Capper-Cramton Act was enacted far ahead of any for-profit developers, or money greedy hip word terms you can conjure up, in order to sound sassy. All transportation projects proposed by state and local governments in the Maryland suburbs must adhere to this policy, and follow the recommendations of this act. This is why the National Capital Planning Commission stepped in earlier in the expansion of the proposed 495 segment. You yourself boast of having presented testimony to this federal commission, yet here you want to piss all over the process. You are sounding like a true Trumper, and making yet another fool of yourself. Shame!

Robert Dyer said...

9:35: I used to believe that too, until I started researching the history. Developers weren't the only player - political plans for the inner cities were also part of the scheming. But real estate concerns were a big part of it. Those interchanges take up a lot of developable land, and the dimwits at that time weren't smart enough to realize you can deck over them and build anyway (as we could do with the Montrose Parkway).

The rules are in place, you are correct about that. Unfortunately, the act doesn't say what widening opponents think it says. If you could declare running a bus someplace as a viable alternative, no highway project could move forward under such an absurd concept (which is the idea, apparently - very clever).

We've seen similar drifting by the radical left and developers on Fair Housing - we've gone from the legitimate issue of qualified buyers being turned away for race to a Maoist/Soviet belief that everyone is entitled to live in a wealthy area. No, they are not.

Anonymous said...

“6:22: How many corporate officers at major companies do you know who take public transit to airports or business meetings? Let's try to use common sense here”

Of course a few high level executives won’t take anything but a chauffeured black SUV, but 40% of Marriott and Amazon employees are expected to use mass transit to get to work, and would be more that willing to use it to to the airport. With a more convenient transit system, this percentage would grow higher especially if more folks choose to live near transit.

In most cities in America, getting to an from commercial airports is very time consuming based on travel time and expensive once you include the massive cost of airport parking, compared to the ease and affordability using mass transit. when it is available. Denver has a remote airport, but a fast train to the city. Chicago has a great system with two international airports with mass transit access to the urban core. The DMV will soon have three easy and quick ways to get to three different international airports.

I challenge you to name a city in the world that has better connectivity to three international airports.

Anna said...

Well, Baltimore has connectivity to three international airports.
As does Toronto.