After a contentious three-hour public hearing and equally heated debate, a divided Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to approve Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s proposal to create a public-private partnership to widen two major interstates in the historically congested Washington, D.C., suburbs.
State Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) joined with Hogan in supporting the measure; state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) voted against it.
But bowing to public criticism, particularly among Montgomery County elected officials and civic activists, Hogan said he would “regrettably” flip the order of the three phases of the proposed highway expansion, meaning the Interstate 270 widening would likely take place before the widening of the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County. Expansion of the Beltway in Prince George’s County would be the third phase.
Hogan said the change in order would give state officials more time to work with leaders in Montgomery County who have criticized the idea of putting more cars on the road and have expressed fears that highway expansion would result in homes and parkland near the Beltway being razed. Hogan observed that the I-270 widening has been less controversial in the community.