50 groups band together to oppose plans to widen Beltway and I-270 in Montgomery Co.

A coalition of citizens’ groups has joined forces to oppose plans to widen the Beltway and I-270 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Fifty local and regional groups say they oppose the project that would add two lanes on either side of I-495 and I-270, which would be HOV or pay to drive.

The groups that came out against the plan, like the Sierra Club and Breathe Free Montgomery, released a letter saying the expansion will harm the environment, destroy parkland and lower property values.

Local business groups and AAA Mid-Atlantic have announced that they like the plan, saying it will reduce congestion by 34% over 20 years, saving motorists 72 hours a year behind the wheel.

However, a new study by traffic modeler Norm Marshall says expanding I-495 and I-270 will shift traffic into the peak hours and actually create or exacerbate bottlenecks at the ends of the toll lanes and on connecting roads.

The cost of the project — estimated to be between $9 and $11 billion — would be paid for with toll revenue.

The Montgomery County Council is asking Maryland to go back to the drawing board and come up with a way to avoid widening I-495 through Silver Spring and Bethesda.

The state has ended the public input period on the project and will evaluate all the feedback before making a decision on how to move ahead.

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