If Gov. Larry Hogan wants to find support for his plans for toll lanes to Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway, Montgomery County’s delegation to the state legislature doesn’t appear to be the place to turn.
Three bills introduced in this year’s 90-day session indirectly take aim at the governor’s $9 billion plan.
The latest bill was introduced in the House of Delegates last week by freshman Delegate Sara Love, a Bethesda Democrat. The bill seeks to prevent a state transportation authority from taking residential property, under a process known as eminent domain, for “certain public-private partnerships.”
Hogan’s plan, announced in 2017, uses a public-private partnership model to fund adding two toll lanes to each direction of to each direction of I-270 and the Beltway in Montgomery County.
Both the Republican governor and Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn have said they don’t plan to take any residents’ homes in the process of building the roads, because all of the construction will take place within existing rights of way.
Love isn’t convinced, and said Hogan’s administration hasn’t been transparent enough about the details of the project. She said she is also worried about other properties, such as Carderock Springs Elementary School near Cabin John, which backs up to the Beltway. She said legislation is needed to ensure that Rahn and Hogan keep their promise of protecting homes.
“He [Rahn] and the governor have said that. This is to make sure that they keep their word. A lot of residents are very concerned. I have heard from residents that back right up to the Beltway,” she said.
Love’s bill is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 26 in the Environment and Transportation Committee. She said her bill is specifically directed at the I-270 and Beltway expansion project. Her bill is joined by two others that could encumber Hogan’s proposal.
The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the latest bill.
Delegates Marc Korman and Al Carr, both Montgomery County Democrats, have introduced legislation that would require an environmental impact statement for public-private partnership projects before contracts are finalized. The bill is before the Environment and Transportation Committee.
Another bill, introduced by Baltimore City Delegate Brooke Lierman, would ban toll-road construction by state highway authorities unless a majority of counties affected first approved it. The bill is in the Environment and Transportation Committee. Similar legislation was introduced at the Montgomery County level by the delegation, but was withdrawn Feb. 5.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com