A bill in the state legislature would require an environmental impact statement before key contract-related paperwork is completed for certain jobs.

If approved, the legislation could delay by at least a year the proposed expansion of Interstates 270 and 495, which by one estimate could add up to $350 million to the cost of the projects.

The bill would require an environmental study on projects that involve public-private sector partnerships much sooner in the review process.

Gov. Larry Hogan has laid out a $9 billion plan that includes adding two toll lanes to I-270 and the Capital Beltway in Maryland to help reduce congestion in the Washington and Baltimore areas.

A federally mandated environmental impact study for the project was started after a pre-solicitation report, which lays out the purpose of the project, had been completed. The state’s Board of Public Works approved a $90 million engineering study to be conducted by three “traffic relief partners” last month.

The bill, sponsored by Montgomery County Democratic delegates Al Carr, who represents Kensington, and Marc Korman, a Bethesda representative, is intended to make sure the public has enough information before contracts are awarded.

“It’s a really expensive project with a lot of unknowns,” Korman said of the I-270 and I-495 proposals.  “We need more information.”

Korman said the Purple Line light rail project, designed to connect Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, is an example of a public-private partnership that successfully completed its environmental study before contracts were awarded.

At a hearing on the bill this week, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn expressed concern that a delay in the I-270 project could bring about about $300 million in additional costs.

Hogan has the power to veto the legislature’s bill should it pass in the session. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Korman said his goal is not to delay the project’s process, but to ensure it is done thoroughly.

“I think there’s just a lot of concern and confusion about what’s going on. We want less traffic, it’s just a matter of how you achieve it,” he said.

This story will be updated

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

7 replies on “Bill Could Force Delay in I-270, Beltway Widening Projects”

  1. Will Monkey County er Montgomery County never learn. Short-sighted and flies in the face of reason given the overloaded condition of these roads. Just cockamania personified.

  2. The pro-Gridlock team has already delayed these projects by 20 years so that we will be looking at Gridlock 16 hours per day. No wonder jobs aren’t coming here!

  3. For anyone wondering why public infrastructure projects take years and tens of millions in costs before a shovel is ever put into the ground, this is why,

  4. With this type of “support” from MoCo’s representatives, my guess is that the $9B will ultimately be divided up in a way that excludes our county….who needs the headache of working with the local “paralysis by analysis” crowd.

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