Background: Trains Not Tolls

Expanding MARC Brunswick Line service is a cost effective alternative to Governor Hogan's multi-billion dollar proposal for destructive toll lanes on I-270. The Maryland legislature is considering a bill, HB102, to require county approval for new toll lanes, simply expanding the local control already enjoyed by Eastern Shore counties. If you reside in Chairman Kumar Barve's district (Rockville & Gaithersburg), please sign this petition urging him to support the bill when it comes before his House Environment and Transportation Committee.

The problem

Governor Hogan proposes to add four toll lanes to I-270 and the Beltway. There's a far better solution – add another track to the MARC train line so that trains can run both ways all day. That would cost far less than the highway widening, be better for the environment, and give people a convenient way to bypass the I-270 traffic jams. The toll lane plan is flawed for many reasons:

  • Widening I-270 has been tried before, and it has failed. When the highway went from 6 to 12 lanes in 1990, the new lanes filled up in 3 years, and traffic was as bad as ever.
  • The toll lane plan is deeply unfair. High tolls – we calculate $41 to drive from Shady Grove to Frederick in rush hour – would keep all but the wealthiest drivers stuck in traffic jams on the non-toll lanes.
  • State highway officials say the toll lanes would cost $9 billion to $11 billion, and the true price tag will surely be even higher. There’s little chance tolls could raise this much money – tolls on the Intercounty Connector will pay back, at best, only one-third of the construction cost. Taxpayers will inevitably get stuck with a stiff bill.

Yet the Hogan administration is rushing the toll lanes through without adequately informing the public or consulting local officials. Meanwhile it is stalling on plans for more MARC trains.

What to do about it

A bill now before the legislature, HB 102, would forbid construction of new toll roads unless they are approved by a majority of the counties they pass through. This bill would put a needed check on the highway-building juggernaut, so we can create a balanced transportation system that provides good transit alternatives to our ever-crowded highways. Please sign this petition to tell Delegate Barve how important it is for him to support HB 102. 

Please also send delegate Barve a personal email at Kumar.Barve@house.state.md.us and tell him in your own words why Maryland should develop alternatives like more MARC trains instead of widening I-270 with $41 toll lanes. Be sure to mention HB 102 specifically and include your home address so that he knows you are a constituent.