Toll Lane Traffic Forecast Lacks All Credibility
FHWA Asked to Retract Environmental Study

 

Press release
October 20, 2021
 
Forecasts of how Maryland's plan for toll lanes on I-270 and the Capital Beltway will affect traffic congestion are contrary to common sense, logic, and the state's own earlier analyses, three citizen groups told the Federal Highway Administration this week. The groups called on the federal agency to withdraw an environmental study issued earlier this month.
 
"The state's computer model claims that widening the Beltway in Bethesda will get rid of traffic jams on US 50 to Annapolis. And it says that feeding three more lanes of cars into the awful Beltway-270 merge at Wisconsin Avenue will reduce traffic there. This model lacks all credibility and is not a legitimate basis for public decision-making," said Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition chair Ben Ross.
 
When federal and county planners initially suggested widening the American Legion Bridge and I-270 without adding lanes at the Wisconsin Avenue merge, the Maryland Dept. of Transportation rejected the idea and insisted it would create a new bottleneck at the merge point, Ross pointed out. "But then the political winds reversed, and the new bottleneck somehow vanished. How can anyone who drives on the Beltway believe this model?" he asked. 
 
In a letter to FHWA Acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack, the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition, Citizens Against Beltway Expansion, and DontWiden270.org said that the absence of a credible traffic model deprives the public of meaningful input into the environmental study process. "The state has been hiding the truth about the toll-lane scheme for years, but this takes it to another level," said DontWiden270.org's Janet Gallant.
 
"MDOT's traffic analysis defies logic.  It would make a mockery of the federal environmental review process to allow it to stand," added Barbara Coufal of Citizens Against Beltway Expansion.
 
The three groups asked the agency to retract the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued October 1, fix the traffic model, and then reissue the SDEIS for public comment.
 
Full text of the letter to Pollack is here.
 

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