Delay sought on Beltway widening vote

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says a crucial vote on a proposal to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 should be delayed.

And he’s not alone.

Franchot serves on the three-member Board of Public Works with State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Gov. Larry Hogan. And on Monday, Kopp said she agrees with Franchot that the vote on the plan to add tolls and widen the Beltway and I-270 should be pushed back so that the amended plans can be analyzed further.

Documents outlining an amended proposal were released in the run-up to a holiday-shortened week.

Franchot said on his Facebook page that because the agenda item for Wednesday would “substantially accelerate and broaden” the existing agreement, the vote should be delayed until Dec. 18.

Hogan, who chairs the Board of Public Works, announced the massive public-private partnership in the fall of 2017. He said it would help break gridlock in the region and prove “transformative.”

Michael Ricci, Hogan’s director of communications, issued a statement reading: “We will consider the comptroller’s request, as we always do for members of the Board of Public Works. Our administration has gone above and beyond to solicit input for this project from local officials and residents over the course of dozens of outreach events, workshops, meetings, hearings and briefings.”

Late Monday afternoon, Democratic lawmakers in Annapolis sent a letter to the Board of Public Works urging the board to hold off on the vote. A total of 84 lawmakers — 69 members of the House of Delegates and 15 members of the Maryland Senate — signed the letter.

“A multi-billion dollar, multi-decade public private partnership requires more than a few days of review over a holiday week,” they said in the letter.

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