MAJOR HIGHWAY PROJECTS: Robert McCartney, Faiz Siddiqui and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post are reporting that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Thursday proposed a $9 billion plan to widen three of the state’s most congested highways — the Capital Beltway, Interstate 270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway — in what he said would include the largest public-private partnership for highways in North America.
“This problem has been marring the quality of life of Maryland citizens for decades,” Hogan said at a news conference. “Today, we are finally going to do something about it.” The highway expansions would add two express toll lanes each way to roughly 100 miles of roadways in Maryland’s densely populated central region. Existing lanes on each road would remain free to drivers, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.
OPPOSITION TO PROJECTS: Smart growth and transit advocates, environmental groups and some Democrats expressed their disapproval, calling the projects short-sighted, bad for the environment and sure to spur sprawl and overdevelopment. Business groups were elated, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters.
Stewart Schwartz, of the Coalition for Smarter Growth in Washington, said his organization is urging the governor to pause and look at reasonable alternatives, such as more public transportation. He cited concerns about environmental impacts, and he said the new capacity will encourage people who found other ways to commute besides driving to return to the roads and make them congested again, Brian Witte of the AP reports.