The Washington Post

Let’s vow never to pay tolls on the Belt­way and I-270

- Jim Beller, Rockville Maryland · Larry Hogan · Montgomery · Peter Franchot · Montgomery County Police Department

Re­gard­ing the June 6 Metro ar­ti­cle “Ho­gan’s toll plan for Belt­way, 270 clears key vote, with changes”:

Mary­land has held dis­cus­sion fo­rums with res­i­dents for more than a year to con­sider a num­ber of pro­pos­als to im­prove traf­fic on the Cap­i­tal Belt­way and In­ter­state 270 from the Belt­way to In­ter­state 370. It’s now clear that re­quests for in­put were strictly per­func­tory, as the No. 1 sug­ges­tion from peo­ple at­tend­ing th­ese fo­rums — not to widen ei­ther of th­ese roads — was never taken se­ri­ously.

Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) and Comptrolle­r Pe­ter Fran­chot (D) voted to move for­ward with this pro­ject and to tackle I-270 be­fore the Belt­way. Af­ter the vote, Mr. Fran­chot wasn’t sure whether start­ing with I-270 meant the en­tire high­way or just the part from the Belt­way to I-370. It’s clear there is a rush to judg­ment.

Mary­land doesn’t have the money to widen th­ese roads, hence the need for toll lanes to get con­trac­tors to bid on th­ese projects and rely on fu­ture tolls for re­im­burse­ment. I don’t be­lieve in build­ing roads we can’t af­ford, be­cause it ne­ces­si­tates the cre­ation of toll lanes to pay for the roads while also help­ing those with money avoid the traf­fic the less af­flu­ent have to deal with. I sug­gest fight­ing this ex­pan­sion with any means avail­able, start­ing with a move­ment to never pay tolls to use th­ese roads.

The an­swer to our grow­ing traf­fic prob­lems is not widen­ing th­ese roads. It’s to stop ap­prov­ing the con­struc­tion of hous­ing on ev­ery piece of va­cant land avail­able in Montgomery County.

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