The Mayor and Council continued efforts in January to oppose a state project to widen interstates 270 and 495 over the American Legion Bridge with toll lanes, as a state board approved the project.
The Board of Public Works, comprised of the governor, comptroller and state treasurer, approved the project on a 2-1 vote on Jan. 8, with Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp voting in opposition.
In a letter to the board on Jan. 6, the Mayor and Council said they “were stunned to learn from the press” late on Jan. 4 that the vote had been scheduled for Jan. 8 and that the plan had changed.
The approved plan calls for toll lanes between a widened Legion Bridge and Interstate 370, and defers widening the remainder of I-495.
“This plan is dramatically different from the previous plan and no one has had time to study the impacts these changes will have,” the letter said.
The city will be “the most critically affected municipality,” with the highway’s 12 lanes abutting homes, Julius West Middle School, two churches and senior facilities, the letter said.
The Mayor and Council have actively engaged with the state about this proposed project, encouraging state officials not to take homes or breach sound-wall boundaries.
The Jan. 6 letter expressed their concern that the project would force Rockville to reconstruct city-owned bridges over I-270 at Wootton Parkway and Gude Drive. The Mayor and Council requested an analysis of the traffic that construction related to the widening will generate, and a discussion of long-term maintenance needs resulting from additional traffic.
The letter noted noise pollution from the existing highway and questioned why other options were not considered, telling the board, “Let’s put transit options first – not last.”
The Mayor and Council also questioned why state officials were not more transparent and rushed toward a vote, asking the board to remove the item from its agenda and work with the city.
Read about Rockville’s efforts to advocate on behalf of the community about the widening project.