Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the state’s comptroller have reached a deal needed to move forward with a public-private partnership on to ease traffic congestion around the nation’s capital.
Hogan announced the deal Friday with Comptroller Peter Franchot. They represent two out of three votes on Maryland Board of Public Works, which would need to approve of the plan moving forward.
A vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The three-member board would need to approve allowing the Maryland Department of Transportation to seek financing and construction proposals from the private sector.
The deal involves an agreement with Virginia to build a new American Legion Bridge.
In Maryland, the deal includes building new toll lanes on Interstate 270, though existing lanes on I-270 would not require drivers to pay tolls. The proposal has been scaled back not to include toll lanes on I-495, east of I-270 for now. The proposal would have toll lanes on I-495 from the George Washington Parkway in Virginia, across the American Legion Bridge to I-270 in Maryland. No existing lanes will have tolls.
“With this plan, no one will be required to pay any tolls, all existing lanes will remain free, and billions of dollars in road improvements will be made without any new taxes,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the multibillion-dollar deal.
Len Foxwell, Franchot’s chief of staff, said negotiations between the comptroller’s staff and the governor’s have led to significant improvements. Foxwell noted that the plan no longer includes construction work east of I-270 toward I-95, which had significant community opposition.
Foxwell also noted the new agreement provides subsidies on the front end for transit from the concessionaire to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Franchot, a Democrat, had requested a delay on a board vote on the proposal because of concerns.
“A better process led to a better outcome,” Foxwell said. “We have a better alignment. We have a better transit deal, and we have a new sense of partnership between state and local government.”
Greg Slater, Hogan’s transportation secretary, said transportation officials still believe improvements on I-495 are important.
“But what we’re saying is that we want to do an area like 270 first, where we have a much greater agreement, and then just continue a collaborative dialogue with our local partners on what the right solution is on the rest of that system,” Slater said.