Toll Lane Plan: Slower Traffic, Sky-High Tolls & You Pay for It

Testimony to Public Hearing on Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Ben Ross, Chair, Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition
September 10, 2020

This process is rigged to justify a toll lane contract for the favored bidder Transurban. Both the process and its pre-determined result are fatally flawed.

First, it will not relieve congestion. Traffic on I-270 will get worse. Traffic on the Virginia Beltway will get worse. If, as is very likely, the project never gets past Phase 1, there will be horrendous traffic jams at the 270-Beltway merge at Wisconsin Avenue.

Second, the tolls will be sky-high. The vast majority of drivers will not be able to afford them.

Third, taxpayers will get stuck with the bill. When construction costs were estimated using the State Highway Administration's cost manual, they came out to more than tolls can pay for. So the Maryland Dept. of Transportation threw its cost estimates out the window and made up lower numbers.

In order to hide these fatal flaws from the public, MDOT is keeping the most important results of this study secret. These are -
•    The predicted travel times from the Beltway to Frederick.
•    The rush-hour tolls.
•    The real cost estimates.

How could it be that there was no room for these numbers in 19,000 pages of report?

The only real solution for transportation in the Washington suburbs is expanded transit, starting with all-day train service on the MARC Brunswick Line. MDOT has illegally refused to analyze this alternative.

This study must start over from the beginning. It must fairly evaluate transit alternatives. The public must get to see all the facts.

Thank you very much.