RELEASE: Governor Hogan’s highways-first approach to transportation will fail Maryland communities

September 21, 2017

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
(703) 599-6437

Governor Hogan’s highways-first approach to transportation will fail Maryland communities

MARYLAND — Today, Maryland Governor Hogan proposed to spend (at least) $9 billion to expand three of Maryland’s major highways in the Washington, DC metro area. The plans call to expand the entire Maryland portion of the Capital Beltway by four high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes – two in each direction. I-270 would also see a four-lane expansion. Maryland would also take over the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from the National Park Service, and add four additional HOT lanes as well.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth urged the Governor to pause and consider the full picture of land use and transportation issues affecting central Maryland before deciding on the best approach.“The Governor and Secretary Rahn risk wasting billions of tax dollars and family resources from Maryland residents with this massive set of highway expansions,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “The fiscally-prudent approach is to study and adopt reasonable alternatives that include land use solutions.

“Smart growth, demand management, and transit investments are the only fiscally-responsible long-term approach, but the big multi-national toll road construction consortiums have been hijacking our transportation planning process promoting massive toll lane projects,” said Schwartz.“The public ultimately pays with these public-private partnerships, through federally-subsidized loans, direct public payments, their tolls, and the impact to neighborhoods and the environment,” said Schwartz.

“A four-lane expansion of the Beltway would be hugely expensive and have a destructive impact on neighborhoods, tree cover, streams, and the environment in the path. For such expense and damage, expansion is only a short-term fix, as experience shows that even with HOT lanes, traffic will return to the general purpose lanes, and attract even more travelers,” said Schwartz. “Even with HOT lanes the number of vehicles on the combined HOT and general purpose lanes would expand and those additional vehicles would then exit onto already overloaded connecting arterials. That’s why we have to look at alternatives that provide options to driving for so many trips.”

The Coalition for Smarter Growth called for an objective study of a more sustainable long-term approach to include:

  1. Completing the first phase of the Purple Line and extending it all the way around to make a full set of connections to activity centers within and near the Beltway.
  2. Focus on the primary bottleneck at the American Legion Bridge, providing a near-term express bus in a dedicated lane in each direction tying into the I-270 HOV lanes.
  3. Advancing MARC commuter rail expansion plan with more frequent trains, expanded hours, and increased bi-directional service.
  4. Investing in smart growth – mixed-use, walkable, transit-oriented communities at Metro stations, MARC stations, and other hubs with frequent transit, as well as reinvestment in the City of Baltimore.
  5. In the DC region, addressing the Beltway means addressing the jobs/housing imbalance between Prince George’s and the west side of the region. Most of the worst traffic is peak hour westbound to Montgomery County and northern Virginia in the morning and eastbound back toward Prince George’s in the evening.  We need to complete transit-oriented development at all east side Metro stations.

Schwartz went on to say, “To quote from the late Ron Kirby, longtime director of the transportation staff at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, ‘Well, rather than widening the Beltway, it would be nice if we had more jobs in the eastern part of the region.’ Mr. Kirby said this in a seminal article in the Washington Post that sums up our critique of the ‘widen-first’ approach,” said Schwartz. “We urge the Governor and Secretary to read this article and to consider the central role of land use, jobs/housing locations, and induced demand.”

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at