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* MDOT Memo Walks Back Hogan Promises*
Nov 19, 2018
MDOT: "Privately-Financed" Lexus Lanes May Extend into Neighborhoods, Use Tax Dollars
A new MDOT memo seems to walk back three of the campaign-season promises Governor Hogan made about their plan to widen the Beltway for four privatized-toll lanes, like the ones in Northern Virginia.

The Nov 15 Preliminary Information Memo lays out a multi-stage, multi-year plan starting with the construction of toll lanes from the GW Parkway, across the American Legion Bridge, and into Maryland for a yet-to-be announced distance. (VDOT would coordinate the Virginia segment.) The toll lanes would come with a 50-year concession for the developer/operator.

Most importantly, the memo drops the Hogan Administration's oft-repeated promise to confine any Beltway changes to the state's existing Right-of-Way. The new memo says MDOT seeks only to "minimize" or "mitigate" "unavoidable impacts", opening the way to taking nearby homes or businesses. Hogan frequently promised that no homes would be taken for the Beltway project.

MDOT's memo also opens the door to converting existing free lanes on the American Legion Bridge into toll (aka "managed") lanes since it says the developer
is expected to renovate or replace the entire bridge without explaining how work on the existing lanes would be paid for (Tolls? Taxpayer subsidies? What?)

In addition the memo affirms the state expects to
secure taxpayer support for the developer, contradicting promises that only private financing would be used.

All of which makes shockingly clear that the state had little real interest in public opinion about the 15+ design alternatives for I-495 unveiled this year, or in pursuing anything other than for-profit toll lanes. As far as the public is concerned, the whole review process looks like a fake.

Dec 13 Briefing Planned for Toll Lane Developers

Although the memo says the state may decide to do something other than toll lanes, it also announces MDOT plans to brief toll lane developers, and hold one-on-one meetings, on December 13 and 14.

The design alternatives, now being reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act process, included reversible lanes, Bus Rapid Transit, and other options that wouldn't nearly threaten homes, businesses, and the environment as much as widening I-495 for four privately managed toll lanes would.

MDOT is keen on accelerated delivery, the memo says, which adds the NEPA review of the GW-ALB-MD toll lanes can proceed on a parallel track with the NEPA process already underway on the entire I-495/I-270 traffic relief project.

CABE continues to believe the General Assembly must get involved to protect taxpayers, who will be on the hook when toll revenues fall short as well as for covering the cost of expensive storm water upgrades and other costs.

Check out WTOP's Max Smith about the new M-DOT memo. 
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Citizens Against Beltway Expansion · PO Box 3593 · Silver Spring, MD 20918-3593 · USA

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