Vehicles travel along Interstate 495 in Morningside, Maryland, on May 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** Vehicles travel along Interstate 495 in Morningside, Maryland, on May 19, 2019. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to move ahead and seek bids for a private firm to participate in a public-private partnership for a proposal to expand Interstates 495 and 270 in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

One of the three board members, state Treasurer Nancy Kopp, voted against the move in need of more information such as a more detailed financial and environmental analyses.

“I have been concerned all along about this huge project and voting on it without being able to see any of the background numbers,” Kopp said.

One aspect Kopp and other project opponents sought before a vote stemmed from an environmental impact statement to outline how noise, construction and pollution would affect the 70-mile stretch.

John Townsend II, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, testifies before the Maryland Board of Public Works on June 5 in Annapolis about his organization’s support of a project to expand and add toll lanes along Interstates 495 and 270. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The state Department of Transportation outlined six alternatives to add toll lanes.

The three-phase project was slightly amended by Gov. Larry Hogan and state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who voted in favor to continue work on the estimated $11 billion project.

Hogan slightly amended the traffic relief plan to first begin work on I-270 in Montgomery County just north of I-370. More work along I-270 would be done heading north to Frederick County.

The second phase now proposed would conduct work in Montgomery County along I-495 west toward the George Washington Memorial Parkway at the American Legion Bridge in Montgomery County.

A third and final phase starts on I-495 in Prince George’s County heading south to the Branch Avenue exit in Temple Hills. However, more analysis would be done from that exit to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge outside National Harbor, but the state Department of Transportation would need to work in conjunction with officials across the Potomac River in Virginia.

According to a draft of the project, work along I-495 west toward the bridge in Montgomery County was originally marked as the first phase. Several county residents sought the importance of I-270 as more vital and seen as the most congested area in the region.

“I think it is a huge response to a lot of the individual concerns that have been made by those opposed to this currently,” Franchot said.

During the three-hour portion of the meeting that strictly focused on this project, Hogan questioned some of the opponents’ comments and had slight discontent toward Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

“We are not saying, ‘No, don’t do anything.’ We are saying, ‘Work with us,’” Elrich said. “I wouldn’t expect you to surrender when I say something. Don’t expect me to surrender when you say something. Let’s work together.”

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Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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