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BALTIMORE -- The Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) voted (2-1) on Wednesday to move forward Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed I-270 and I-495 toll lane widening project. Gov. Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot voted for the proposal, and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp voted no. Following fierce opposition from environmental activists, local planning officials and residents, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) in mid-May significantly downsized the project from its initial $11 billion price tag.
This latest vote allows a private consortium, Accelerate Maryland Partners (AMP), to begin the planning and designing phase and also locks the state into a 50-year lease allowing AMP to manage the proposed toll lanes.
Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG, issued the following statement:
“Expanding Maryland’s highways is a waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s bad for public health and the environment, and it will make traffic worse, not better. It’s time to take a fresh approach to transportation spending and invest in healthier, cleaner and more sustainable electrified public transit, biking and walking. We thank Ms. Kopp for voting no today, and hope Mr. Franchot will help put the brakes on Gov. Hogan’s highway expansion plans.”
John Stout, transportation advocate for PIRG, issued the following statement:
“This is a very disappointing vote on a wasteful highway boondoggle project. This unnecessary highway expansion will increase Maryland’s deadly air pollution and climate-harming emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report makes it clear: If we are going to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we need to decarbonize our country’s fossil fuel-based transportation system. That means we need to stop expanding our highways and instead invest that money in more clean public transit, biking and walking.”
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