The proverbial headlines of dreams for MARC Train along with plans for US 15 and I-270 improvements offer promises that seem to never end, and then comes confusion, protest and no action.
Okay, so, for how many years have residents of Frederick County and the rest of Western Maryland been complaining about and dealing with rush hour traffic on I-270? If you are one of this county’s 50,000 commuters, many of whom often tackle a three-hour drive to and from work in the DC metro area every weekday, then you likely are even more frustrated with the decades of seemingly endless promises to resolve our traffic problems from politicians.
Thus far … all said and done, there have always been a few improvements here and there, which should not be taken lightly – MARC train extension from downtown Frederick to Point of Rocks, US 15 Monocacy Boulevard bridge over US 15, and the improvements to I-270 overpass at MD 85 – but what about a master plan for resolving the region’s long and frustrating morning and afternoon commutes?
Just over the last couple of years and in the last few months, new stories in print and across the web have offered encouragement and pushback. Just consider the ups and downs of this selection of headlines:
- Maryland’s MARC and Virginia’s VRE Talk about Integrating Commuter Rail Service, May 16, 2014 – Greater Greater Washington
- Governor Larry Hogan Announces Advancement of I-270 Congestion Relief Project, April 19, 2017 – Maryland Department of Transportation
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposes widening the Beltway and I-270 to include 4 toll lanes, September 21, 2017 — Washington Post
- States lack long-term solution for future MARC funding, January 4, 2019 — Frederick News Post
- Officials discuss ways to cut back on traffic congestion without widening I-270, January 30, 2019 — Nexstar Broadcasting
- Maryland nixed its transit options and is moving ahead with road-widening and tolls on I-495 and I-270, March 13, 2019 — Greater Greater Washington
- US. 15 project tops [Frederick] County’s Transportation Priorities, April 2, 2019 — Frederick News Post
- [Frederick] County Chamber of Commerce announces transportation advisory committee, April 4, 2019 — Frederick News Post
- I-270 study starting soon, but looming bill could impact toll lane plan, April 5, 2019 — Frederick News Post
- DC. Council members move to oppose Maryland toll plan for Capital Beltway, I-270 and B-W Parkway, April 24, 2019 — Washington Post
- County, city urge Hogan to support linking Maryland, Virginia rail systems, May 5, 2019 — Frederick News Post
- Hundreds attend town hall to protest Hogan plan to add toll lanes to Beltway I-270, May 5, 2019 — Washington Post
… and this isn’t the first time that long-term solutions have been “talked” about. I am a lifetime resident of the Washington Metropolitan/Frederick area, and, as we all have, I’ve experienced the traffic congestion and frustration to just drive north on US 15 on any weekday morning or afternoon, much less trying to figure out what time I have to leave Frederick to make a 9:00 AM meeting with a client on K Street in downtown DC.
Our region is not alone. As the population surge that follows economic expansion continues in growing regions, governmental planning often unwittingly makes transportation infrastructure funding as a lower priority.
What are governments to do?
No, wait, maybe, I’m asking the wrong question: What are growing businesses and their commuting workforce to do?
Clearly, there is not just one fix to a problem of this magnitude and every region is unique. To find real solutions to this massive problem, we do not have to reinvent the “wheel” here, but let’s look around the country … no, the world, to find a selection of answers, put them in a package … and then the hard part — ask our political leaders to come together in agreement on a solution, find the funding, and then act!
In an upcoming post, I will share one idea that has come to my attention from a serious group of creative people lead by a local entrepreneur who thinks there is an affordable option that can contribute to easing the traffic congestion of our area … and I’m a believer!
Stay tuned …
Rocky Mackintosh, President of MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland, has been an active member of the Frederick community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012. He currently serves as chairman of the board of Frederick Mutual Insurance Company. Established in 1843, it is one of the longest enduring businesses in Frederick County.