Statement on Proposed Highway Expansion
Clean Water Action is disappointed with Governor Hogan’s announcement that he is pursuing a 20th century transportation solution to solve the region's 21st century traffic woes.
Highway expansion is not the answer for long commute times and toll lanes are nothing but an investment in a road that only some of us will be able to afford. Time and time again, we have seen highways expanded only to soon return to persistent rush hour congestion.
If the Governor thought Baltimore’s Red Line was a boondoggle at $2.9B, it’s hard to see how $9B to widen roads is a good investment. Building highways for peak hour capacity leads us to have overbuilt roads that are not an efficient use of our resources - land and money - and have serious, detrimental impacts on our environment and resilience, including increasing greenhouse gases, destroying habitats, and removing pervious land. We cannot pave our way out of congestion, nor should we try.
The benefits of new road capacity are short-lived. Commuters shift their commute departures back to peak hours and residents settle in sprawl developments. The deficit of affordable housing pushes Marylanders out into what was once farmland. As more people settle further afield in places not serviced by transit or where biking, walking, and rideshare are not feasible, congestion increases until it returns to where it was. In the end, billions of dollars will have been spent and all we will have to show for it is more pavement, more costly sprawl development, and the same old congested roadways.
Highway expansion and luxury lanes too expensive for many Marylanders are not the answer for congested commuter traffic. We must invest in moving people. We need innovative options to maximize the efficiency of our existing road network and make it more affordable for Marylanders to live and work in places that are served by mass transit, or where commutes can be completed by walking, biking, or rideshare. We strongly recommend that Governor Hogan put that $9 billion towards mass transit, sidewalks, bike lanes, affordable housing, and stormwater controls.
Clean Water Action
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Food and Water Watch
Tamara Toles O'Laughlin
Maryland Environmental Health Network