The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Maryland highway project isn’t a solution to our traffic problems

Heavy traffic on the Beltway near Bethesda on July 27, 2021. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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The Post’s June 9 editorial “Attention Marylanders: Traffic ahead” was one of a remarkable number of editorials, over the past two or three years, supporting adding two toll lanes to the Beltway and Interstate 270. The Post might reflect upon the fact that, despite having expended so much energy and lines of type, it has not convinced the public or many public officials of the project’s value.

Could we entertain the thought that the project is not a solution? The Maryland Department of Transportation’s own projections for the project have future travel times for non-toll-lane drivers worse than if the toll lanes are not built. How could that happen?

MDOT’s plan would produce a chokepoint on the Beltway near the Old Georgetown Road exit — where the Maryland toll lanes would end and where five lanes would become three. The chokepoint could back up congestion into the Beltway/I-270 split, particularly in the evening, leaving non-toll-lane evening commutes up to 10 minutes slower.

Ironically, MDOT has implemented an “Innovative Congestion Management Project” on I-270 that aims to significantly reduce commuting times now and into the future. But this project is never mentioned as part of the real solution.

The Post editorial opined about the failure of economic growth in Maryland, but a bad project is not going to turn that around.

Arthur Katz, Rockville