WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown has lost a bid in a House committee to block Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to widen portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.
The Hogan administration pitched the public-private partnership as a way to alleviate traffic congestion without relying on taxpayer dollars. Private contractors would recoup their investment through tolls charged on drivers who use the new lanes.
But Brown, a Democrat who represents parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, opposes the plan for so-called “luxury lanes.” He recently tweeted that he is “committed to addressing traffic by getting cars off the road, investing in transit-oriented communities, and developing a regional, multi-modal transit system.”
Brown authored an amendment to bar the federal government from paying for environmental impact studies for the road expansions. A second Brown amendment would have blocked using federal dollars to transfer the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from the National Park Service to the state of Maryland; that plan also proposes an arrangement between the state government and a private company to build toll lanes.
The committee permitted nearly 300 amendments, but none involved local transportation issues such as Brown’s toll lanes language.
“I will continue to advocate for my constituents who feel as though they have not been heard, and who want transit to be considered as part of any congestion-relief plan," Brown said after the committee action. "I will always champion future-focused solutions such as transit-oriented development, and solutions that create safe, green, walkable communities."
Michael Ricci., Hogan’s communications director, responded to Brown’s statement.
““Here are the facts: Our administration has held dozens of public outreach events on this project, and the governor has invested a record $14 billion in transit—including the Purple Line to Prince George's County,” Ricci said. “Meanwhile, Congressman Brown has never offered a real plan of any kind to address this decades-long traffic problem that the governor is working every day to solve.”
Maryland’s Board of Public Works on June 5 approved the use of private companies for Hogan’s plan, but agreed to delay work on the Capital Beltway after running into opposition. The Republican governor agreed to proceed first with adding toll lanes to Interstate 270, which connects the beltway and Frederick. Widening the beltway in Prince George’s County would come later.