Bill would block expansion of Route 410 in Takoma Park

Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

MontCo lawmakers' measure could interfere with planned rapid bus system

Legislation being considered by the Maryland General Assembly would ban any expansion on the East-West Highway in Takoma Park, worrying Montgomery County lawmakers who are concerned that the measure would interfere with construction of their proposed rapid bus system.

The bill, which was introduced earlier this month in the Maryland House, would prohibit the Department of Transportation from spending any funds on adding new lanes to Route 410, or the East-West Highway, through Takoma Park.

Some Montgomery County Council members said they agreed the road shouldn't be widened for space reasons but worried whether the legislation would set a precedent that would block certain parts of roads to become exempt from adding lanes, specifically roads being considered for bus rapid transit.

"I'm just afraid that other delegates will be so motivated to use other bills to say, 'Don't ... build this road,' and they'll point to this as a precedent," Deputy Council Staff Director Glenn Orlin said at a legislative meeting Monday. "Everyone agrees we're not widening 410, but don't put this into law."

The bill -- introduced by Del. Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery County -- also would prohibit DOT from spending money on Interstate 95 through Prince George's County that would involve a new or reconstructed segment connecting it to any other highway inside the county.

Councilman George Leventhal, D-at large, said if the bus rapid transit system is constructed, the county would more than likely add lanes to roads either on the shoulder or in the median, and if communities feel they're disruptive, they could form their own legislation to stop it.

"I guarantee you, you can expect similar legislation that would impede on bus rapid transit," he said.

Planners presented a 78-mile bus rapid transit system in February that would include eight corridors in the center and downcounty regions. The updated proposal is about half of the original 160-mile system proposed by a task force appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett.

Planners said they scaled back the proposal after various studies showed Montgomery County's system would too large and unsustainable.

Originally, planners estimated the project would cost upwards of $10 billion; a new estimate has not been released.

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