- In what Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling "a monumental and historic achievement," the three-member state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to approve amendments to the public-private partnership (P3) that will deliver Hogan's $9 billion Traffic Relief Plan. The plan includes implementation of Maryland and Virginia's Capital Beltway Accord, which allows for a new American Legion Bridge between the two states near Washington, D.C., and the approval will allow the state to solicit bids.
- In order to win a majority vote for the plan, Hogan agreed to eliminate from the first phase of the project the widening of the Washington, D.C., Beltway (I-495) from I-270 to Interstate 95 North, WJLA reported. The project will use a phased approach, and the first section will include I-495 from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway to I-270 and I-270 from I-495 to I-370. The other sections will be put out to bid on a future date.
- The Washington, D.C., area, according to the governor's office, has the second-worst traffic congestion in the U.S., and without a plan to relieve that congestion, motorists could see a 74% increase in the amount of time they have to fight traffic by 2040.
In November, the Maryland DOT issued a presolicitation information memo about the first phase of the project and estimated that it would cost between $2 billion and $5 billion. The winner of the first phase will design, build and finance managed lanes from Virginia into Maryland, replace the American Legion Bridge and provide operations and maintenance services for a term of 50 years.
The new American Legion Bridge will connect to three miles of new high-occupancy toll lanes being built on the Virginia side and should positively affect congestion in a four-mile area around the bridge for the quarter of a million vehicles that travel across it every day. Some local residents have pushed back against the plan for fear of having to sacrifice some or all of their property, but state officials have said the footprint of the replacement bridge project will remain the same.
As part of the overall plan, Virginia officials reportedly will extend its I-495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge through a partnership with Transurban, the Australia-based firm that built and manages I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes.
Hogan's office is taking some heat after it was revealed that one of his former aides, Maryland Matters reported, will leave her current position as director of intergovernmental affairs and start working for Transurban, a move that is likely to raise concerns that Transurban will be a favorite to win the project even though the individual in question, Amanda Allen, did not deal with infrastructure projects when employed by the state.
According to Maryland Matters, Transurban previously stated that it would not bid on the new Maryland P3 but has recently made statements that it is in fact interested in bidding on the massive plan.