Editors' Pick

A Madison Avenue Spin on the Beltway

Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to widen the Beltway and I-270 with funding from private financing and toll lanes has faced years of unrelenting criticism. A regional transportation panel almost killed the plan in June—before it was rescued thanks largely to lobbying by Hogan. Weeks later, the state Department of Transportation borrowed a page from Madison Avenue. Working with a PR firm, it rebranded the “I-495 & I-270 P3 (Public-Private Partnership) Program” as “Op Lanes Maryland”—as in “options” and “opportunities,” according to a professionally produced video. The video never mentions “tolls,” and critics who had derided the prospect of high-priced “Lexus Lanes” pounced: Frederick County Councilmember Kai Hagen was quoted by Maryland Matters as accusing state officials of employing “the slick and manipulative sales techniques of someone trying to sell you an overpriced timeshare package in Bermuda.”