Poll shows majority support for I-270, Beltway toll lanes amid pushback

Thousands of drivers zooming through the Suitland Road Bridge work zone area on the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County, Maryland, are getting caught by the speed cameras in place since last year. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s traffic relief plan to add tolls to Interstate 270 and parts of the Capital Beltway is receiving support with some residents, but it doesn’t come without concerns from local leaders.

The latest Washington Post-Schar School poll shows a majority of support among D.C.-area and Montgomery County residents at 61%. But, in Prince George’s County, that number drops to 48%.

When considering the main concerns, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — along with Northern Virginia and D.C. residents — expressed reservations about the proposal.

“Seventy-three percent regionwide said that they were concerned it required destruction of homes; 69% said it would be too expensive to use,” said the Post’s Emily Guskin.

And 68% said the plan wouldn’t address congestion, and more traffic noise was a concern among 47% of residents polled.

When it comes to possible changes to the proposal regionwide, a majority of residents did support adding adjustable tolls while keeping current lanes free, while 28% felt the focus should be on reducing traffic on roads. And 32% said leaders should focus on improving current road conditions.

But local lawmakers continue to speak out against the proposed project altogether.

In a letter to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich urged the group not to give up any land for the project, saying it would be a disruption to neighborhoods, overpasses and adjacent parkland.

The commission owns parkland along the Beltway, including Northwest Branch Recreational Park and Rock Creek Park. It has the authority to decide whether a current easement that runs through the parks should be expanded to allow for the expansion.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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