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AASHTO Journal

Maryland Seeks Largest North American P3 to Sharply Boost Capacity on Major Highways

Touting his proposals as "massive" and "transformative," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he wants to use North America's largest public-private partnership efforts in a $9 billion "traffic relief plan" to add toll lanes and traffic capacity on three heavily used highways that connect with Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

The plan would use a P3 portion to add four new lanes to the entire Maryland portion of the Interstate 495 Capital Beltway, plus to I-270 between Virginia and Frederick, Md.

It also calls for the U.S. Interior Department to turn the Baltimore-Washington Parkway – or MD 295 – over to Maryland, which would then add express toll lanes there as well. The governor's announcement said he has "already personally started this process during a recent meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and has directed [Maryland Department of Transportation] officials to move forward with the transfer negotiations."

capitol0816.jpgHogan reportedly said at a Sept. 21 roadside press conference that the Interior Department wants to get out of the roads business, and Maryland is happy to help.

Together, Hogan said, "these three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I-495, I-270, and MD 295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner. . . These projects will substantially and dramatically improve our state highway system and traffic in the region."

If successful, they could also improve traffic flow across a larger portion of the Atlantic Seaboard, since easing congestion on the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington corridor could help untangle frequent backups both for those roads and for interstate freight trucks and other motorists on north-south I-95.

"Maryland is going to finally get some congestion relief by investing $9 billion in three of the most congested highways in the state," said MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn.

The governor's office said his announcement officially begins the process to solicit the P3 industry for congestion-relief proposals to those transportation routes.

"With the total project estimated value at $9 billion, the P3 portion to add four new lanes on both I-495 and I-270 is the largest proposed P3 highway project in North America," it said. "The P3 will be seeking private developers to design, build, finance, operate and maintain new lanes on I-495 between the American Legion Bridge and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and on I-270 between I-495 and I-70."

But it said the first step would be to build new express lanes on MD 295. Following a transfer of that parkway from Interior to the state, it said, the Maryland Transportation Authority would build, operate and maintain the new lanes and maintain existing lanes between Baltimore and D.C.

That would also put the Maryland plan in line with infrastructure investment ideas coming out of the White House, where officials have both talked of spurring more use of private partnership financing and making better use of publicly held infrastructure to generate revenue.

Above: Hogan announces his three-highway P3 expansion plan, with MDOT Secretary Rahn sharing the podium. Photo / Executive Office of the Governor

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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