MD Gov. Hogan announces $230M plan to reduce I-270 gridlock
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan this week announced a $230 million initiative aimed at reducing congestion on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, MD, a corridor that connects to the Capital Beltway and is notorious for its traffic jams, according to WTOP.
Included in the state's traffic-reduction plan is the $100 million Innovative Congestion Management Project. State officials said they will start soliciting proposals for that initiative later this year.
The stretch of I-270 handles more than 250,000 vehicles a day. The funding comes from a total of $560 million that has been earmarked for highway upgrades in the county.
Highway improvements aren't the only way officials hope to reduce congestion in that part of the state, which is considered a part of the Washington, DC, metro area. Another is the $5.6 billion Purple Line light-rail project, which this week was officially saved from going down in the books as a financial boondoggle.
Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon stopped the project in its tracks by rescinding its state and federal approvals just days before the Federal Transit Administration was supposed to deliver a $900 million grant check. No approval meant no money.
That decision was in response to a lawsuit from local activists who alleged the project's environmental review did not adequately address the issue of declining ridership on DC's Metrorail system as the Purple Line used those figures to set its own ridership numbers. Leon eventually ordered a supplementary review of the project, which could have tacked on several additional months of delays.
In the meantime, state officials claimed the hold up had them bleeding money and that the complex financing set up by the joint venture running the P3, Purple Line Partners (PLP), could fall through. PLP was hired to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the light-rail line.
The state appealed Leon's decision, and Maryland got a court decision in its favor. After an appeals court judge overruled Leon's move to revoke federal and state approvals, the FTA delivered on its $900 million.
Meanwhile, the state's project approvals process is under fire. Hogan has attempted to repeal a law requiring his office to publicly score and rank transportation projects getting state funding. The state ultimately overrode Hogan's veto of the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016. Hogan has said the law would prevent critical projects from moving forward, and he has vowed to continue to fight to overturn it.
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