A wider I-270: How two lanes beats four
By Phil Andrews
A recent state proposal to address traffic-choked Interstate 270 would add four lanes between Shady Grove Road and Urbana, and two lanes between Urbana and the city of Frederick. But after reviewing the state’s long-term traffic projections for I-270, the Montgomery County Council has come up with a better solution.
Since the state’s projections show that the existing lanes could handle future rush-hour traffic northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening, it makes more sense to limit I-270 widening in Montgomery County to two reversible lanes for southbound use in the morning and northbound in the evening.
In an informal vote last week, the council unanimously endorsed this approach, for good reason: Adding two reversible lanes rather than four ordinary ones would cut costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and reduce community and environmental impacts. What we envision are congestion-priced toll lanes (free to carpools, buses and motorcycles) that would allow for faster travel than on the non-toll, general-use lanes.
On Tuesday, the County Council will take a formal vote on the proposal, as well as on a recommendation on whether the Corridor Cities Transitway, which would connect Clarksburg, Germantown and Gaithersburg to the Shady Grove Metro station, should be bus rapid transit or more expensive light rail.
After that, these crucial projects will need state and federal backing to get off the drawing board and start easing traffic in Montgomery County.
The writer, a Democrat, is president of the Montgomery County Council.
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