The Maryland Board of Public Works in USA advanced Governor’s plan to solve some of the state’s decades-long traffic problems. The board designated the Traffic Relief Plan as eligible for a private-public partnership, allowing the administration to move forward with soliciting and evaluating private investment for desperately needed congestion relief on I-495 and I-270. The program would be the largest highway public-private partnership of its kind in the world. The contracts are valued at more than US$11 billion.
The I-495 & I-270 P3 Program is a historic effort to reduce congestion for millions of Maryland drivers by seeking input from the private sector to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain improvements on both I-495 and I-270. Improvements will be focused to transform these overloaded interstates to allow people to reach their destinations faster and to remove overflow traffic from the local roads.
The Board approved the Governor’s request to make I-270 improvements in the first phase of the project. Adding toll lanes to the I-495 (Beltway) and the American Legion Bridge will be Phase Two and Phase Three of the project. Even though the before mentioned projects need more immediate traffic relief, The Beltway is more controversial as it would involve the demolition of more homes. The delay of Beltway and the bridge section will give transportation officials more time to work with leaders in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to address their concerns.
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will dedicate 10% of the state’s portion of toll revenue sharing to fund regional transit projects. Additionally, MDOT officials agreed to Comptroller Peter Franchot’s request to conduct an I-270 monorail feasibility study; to allow local transit buses to use the managed toll lanes at no charge, and to not take any right of way until the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is completed. MDOT has established a transit working group to collaborate with regional and local stakeholders.
Each phase of the project will come before the Board of Public Works for separate votes, along with a completed environmental review for that phase.
The approval of the project as a whole allows MDOT and the Maryland Transportation Authority to seek and evaluate the qualifications of private investors for the first of the program’s five construction contracts, as well as gather input on potential innovative solutions to deliver congestion relief. The interested companies now will start putting together detailed engineering proposals and line up financing.