Governor Larry Hogan was in Montgomery County today to announce a $229.6 million plan to reduce congestion along the I-270 corridor.
Hogan made the announcement at Park Potomac along I-270 in Rockville. In keeping with the administration’s efforts to advance long-overdue highway projects, Hogan unveiled $100 million in new funding for the I-270 Innovative Congestion Management Project to improve travel times throughout the I-270 corridor. In conjunction with the corridor project, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration will construct a new $129.6 million interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road to reduce congestion on local roads and improve safety for residents and commuters.
“Our administration is committed to finding the best ideas that offer real solutions, and I’m excited to see innovation in action when it comes to solving the problem of congestion on I-270,” said Hogan. “We are calling on the most creative minds in the transportation industry to step forward, as we continue our investment in critical infrastructure projects that will help citizens in Montgomery County, and all across our state.”
The Watkins Mill Interchange had become a political yo-yo last year. The interchange was slated to begin in the spring of 2016 with an estimated completion date of sometime in 2018, but funding for the interchange was pulled by the Hogan and state in the fall of 2015.
Today, Hogan announced that the new I-270/Watkins Mill interchange project will be advertised in spring 2017 and start construction next summer. The $129.6 million project will support economic development and reduce congestion at the nearby I-270/MD 124 interchange and MD 355/MD 124 intersection to the south. The new interchange also will provide access from I-270 to the Metropolitan Grove MARC station. This section of I-270 now carries 166,000 vehicles a day and is estimated to grow to 235,000 vehicles a day by 2035.
The new interchange will be built at Watkins Mill Road in Gaithersburg, a little more than 4,000 feet north of where Quince Orchard Road crosses under I-270. It will provide both northbound and southbound entrance to I-270 and allow traffic to exit I-270 from both directions to go either east on Watkins Mill Road to Rt. 355 or west to Clopper Road.
Once completed it will greatly change the way many Germantown residents access and egress I-270 which will alter and hopefully alleviate some congestion on the roads, such as Germantown Road and Middlebrook Road, in the heart of Germantown.
At today’s event, Governor Hogan announced the formation of The I-270 Innovative Congestion Management project will reduce congestion and delays along the corridor in Montgomery and Frederick counties. The 35-mile, I-270 corridor carries from 79,400 vehicles a day on the north end of I-270 to 261,200 vehicles a day near the Capital Beltway. By the year 2035, these volumes will increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles a day. Traffic congestion hinders economic development and makes travel unreliable through the corridor.
SHA issued a request for proposals on June 7 for $100 million in state funding. Statements of Qualifications are due by July 25. The first project concepts will be discussed between late August and late October with final proposals submitted January 5, 2017. The selection of the successful proposer will occur in February, with the notice to proceed for the design/build contractor next spring.
“We are looking worldwide for any and all ideas,” said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. “The winning proposer will move the most vehicles, the fastest, the farthest.”
The Hogan administration is also delivering an additional $1 million for shuttle bus service that will transport riders between Metro stations. This will ensure that citizens are still able to get to work and move around efficiently when Metro repairs are taking place later this year.
Today’s announcement demonstrates Governor Hogan’s commitment to safety and infrastructure improvements in every jurisdiction in the state and is part of the $788 million in transportation investments in Montgomery County over six years, including: $566.7 million for highways, $220.8 million for transit and $381,594 in aviation grants for Montgomery County Airport.
Governor Larry Hogan was joined by County Executive Ike Leggett at the I-270 news conference along the I-270 corridor. Also, joining Hogan and Leggett were Council President Nancy Floreen, State Senator Cheryl Kagan, Councilman George Leventhal, Council Vice President Roger Berliner, and State Senator Brian Feldman.
Photo courtesy MD Transportation Department. Video courtesy Montgomery County.