Submitted Testimony Opposing I-495/I-270 Toll Lane Expansion

Our Revolution Maryland submits the following written testimony against the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) involving the American Legion Bridge on I-495, I-270, and I-370:

Our Revolution Maryland recognizes that traffic congestion is a serious problem that negatively affects the quality of life enjoyed by millions in the region. We support effective environmentally sound long-term solutions.

We believe, however, that in light of the climate crisis and our already overwhelmed local and state roads, the last thing we should be doing is increasing highway capacity and putting even more vehicles on our clogged streets.

The evidence from jurisdictions that have experimented with privatized supersized highways is that private toll or “Lexus” lanes do not reduce driving time on interstate highways and expressways since most drivers remain on the non-tolled lanes while a few wealthy drivers pay dearly to zip by. On the other hand, the added lanes reduce the amount of green space in communities and ultimately increase traffic congestion on secondary roads.

The PPP likely reduces Maryland’s ability to reduce the fossil fuel emissions that are responsible for the climate crisis. Similar public private partnerships have contained clauses that hold harmless private parties claiming injuries due to state actions that reduce the value of their agreement. Thus, enacting policies that incentivize use of public transit and reduce reliance on automobiles could potentially expose Maryland to billions of dollars of financial liability.

Our Revolution Maryland also decries the fact that the primary private contractor is a foreign corporation. Thus, if the PPP is approved, millions of dollars every year will be taken out of not just Maryland’s economy but from the United States as well.

Expansion of the Beltway, I-270, and I-370 will negatively impact on many homeowners, renters, and small business owners who live or work near the highways. People of color residing in eastern Montgomery County and Prince George’s County will likely be disproportionately harmed.

We are also very concerned that the federally required environmental and financial analyses has not been completed. Any vote by BPW should be postponed until all necessary reports have been completed given the significant harm to both Maryland’s ecology and budget that this massive PPP appears poised to inflict.

The proposed PPP is a bad deal for Maryland.

Our Revolution Maryland opposes it unconditionally.

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