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

Traffic is often heavy through Bethesda at the Beltway and I-270 Spur Interchange. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

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.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up