Battle over I-495 toll lanes in Md. could go to court

A contentious Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission meeting reaffirmed that board’s opposition to Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to add toll lanes to parts of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 — and board members also started talking about settling those differences in a courtroom.

The commission held a meeting in Silver Spring on Wednesday to hear from transportation leaders in the state about progress on the project, but board members expressed frustration over alternatives it had proposed and felt had been summarily dismissed by the state.

In particular, the board had asked the state to look into diverting more traffic that flows from Interstate 95 onto the Outer Loop of the Beltway in Montgomery County to the InterCounty Connector instead. It had also proposed building just one toll lane on the Beltway as well.

But Maryland officials determined both ideas were flawed and would have a minimal at best impact on traffic, especially compared to building two toll lanes on the Beltway and one on I-270.

Members of the board pushed back though, asking for more information about the analysis used to make that determination, and chastising state leaders for refusing to turn over that information. They also expressed concern about how the project would accommodate mass transit options too.

The opposition expressed by the board echoes other local, vocal opponents to the toll lane project on the Beltway. But it might matter more since the commission controls park land in Montgomery County that the state is looking to seize in order to widen I-495. And it could take the state to court to affirm its right to refuse to turn over the land needed by the state to build the new lanes.

Commission officials told reporters Wednesday that was a possibility they were beginning to prepare for now.

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