Opinion: This is wrong time to push I-495/I-270 highway expansion project

Opinion: This is wrong time to push I-495/I-270 highway expansion project

Pandemic's effect on traffic patterns is unknown

| Published:

To the editor:

This is not the time to forge ahead with Gov. Larry Hogan’s highway expansion project (“Environmental impact gives six alternatives for I-495/I-270 widening,” July 10).

Why is the governor racing forward with the I-495/I-270 highway expansion project in the middle of a raging pandemic?

Montgomery County Council Member Tom Hucker asserts that the expanded telework policy due to the health emergency has greatly reduced traffic. As he affirms, we cannot predict future traffic patterns.

Telework has proven to be successful. It will continue at least part-time long after a vaccine is developed. Social distancing will force a reduction of personnel in the office.

Gov. Hogan needs to place the project on hold, then reevaluate it in a month or two.

Increasing and upgrading public transportation may be the only action required. Accessible and reliable transit will move a large number of commuters with a measurable drop in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. His $11 billion highway expansion project will defeat that goal, encouraging people to drive.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich supports an extension of the public comment period from 90 to 120 days. This will provide all of us a chance to review the draft environmental impact statement, a lengthy document that fails to address the project’s impact on climate change.

Gail Landy
The writer is a member of the Sierra Club Clean Transportation Committee.


Editor’s note: Bethesda Beat encourages readers to send us their thoughts about local topics we have covered for consideration as a letter to the editor in our Saturday newsletter. Email them to editorial@bethesdamagazine.com. We require a name and hometown for publication. We also require a phone number (not for publication) for us to verify who wrote the letter. Please provide a source for any facts in your letter that were not part of our coverage; if they can’t be verified, they likely will be omitted.

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