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Coalition pushes for traffic improvements on I-270

The Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance has issued several recommendations to improve the flow of traffic along Interstate 270. (Courtesy SMTA)

GERMANTOWN, Md. — A bipartisan group of community, business and political leaders gathered near Interstate 270 Monday morning, pointing to rush hour traffic on the highway and calling for changes they claim would reduce congestion.

The coalition, which has labeled itself “Fix270Now,” includes officials from Montgomery and Frederick counties.

It plans to lobby local, state and federal lawmakers to prioritize I-270 improvements.

“This is a state and national disgrace,” said Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen. “It’s borderline criminal that we haven’t been able to muster the support at the national and state level to actually get something done.”

The coalition is calling for improvements, such as new express toll lanes and regional bus rapid transit service along the I-270 corridor that stretches from the American Legion Bridge to Frederick.

“I-270 serves as the high technology corridor in Maryland, connecting Montgomery County and Frederick County,” said Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner.  “It’s time to get traffic moving.”

The Maryland Department of Transportation estimates adding express lanes and bus rapid transit could improve rush hour travel speeds along the corridor by up to 87 percent.

“This corridor is a singular economic asset,” said Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.  “It is time for us to think about this problem in a transformational manner.”

Members of the coalition say revenue from new express toll lanes would largely provide funding for other elements of I-270 projects, including the acquisition and operation of bus rapid transit vehicles.

Jennifer Russel, chairwoman of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, which was founded to advocate for increased transportation funding, said that while short-term investments, including the Watkins Mill Interchange and the Corridor Cities Transitway project, are supported, more needs to be done.

“Studies all show we can dramatically reduce congestion and support future job growth in this key smart-growth corridor for decades to come, with a combination of new lanes and new high-quality bus-rapid-transit using those new lanes,” Russel said.

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