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February 25, 2021 4:45 PM, EST

Maryland DOT Selects Developer for Major P3

American Legion Bridge Traffic on the American Legion Bridge, which connects Fairfax, Va., with Montgomery County, Md., via Interstate 495. (Google Street View)

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The Maryland Department of Transportation has selected Accelerate Maryland Partners to serve as the developer for a major public-private partnership to improve traffic congestion.

Accelerate Maryland Partners is led by toll operating company Transurban and banking company Macquarie Capital. The team has worked on about 90 public-private partnerships globally, including the Express Lanes network in Virginia on interstates 95, 395 and 495.

Accelerate Maryland Partners will be responsible for predevelopment work on the American Legion Bridge and I-270. The American Legion Bridge carries I-495, known as the Capital Beltway, over the Potomac River between Montgomery County and Fairfax County, Va. I-270 is an auxiliary interstate linking I-495 in Montgomery County and I-70 in Frederick, Md.

MDOT’s plans include constructing a new American Legion Bridge and adding two high-occupancy toll lanes that would run across the bridge to I-270 and north on I-270 to I-370. The new bridge also would have space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The projects are part of MDOT’s I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program.

Gregory Slater

Slater

“This is another step forward in addressing one of the most significant traffic bottlenecks in the nation,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater. “Though there is much more work to do with the local leaders, the community and stakeholders, the selected proposal delivers congestion relief at the American Legion Bridge, strong innovative approaches for minimizing impacts and a real multimodal approach.”

The selection marks the end of a yearlong competitive process. Other teams vying for responsibility to oversee predevelopment work were the Accelerate MarylandExpress Partners and the Capital Express Mobility Partners.

Representatives from MDOT, the MDOT State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority, local counties and the Federal Highway Administration participated in the evaluation process. According to Slater, experts spent approximately 200 hours reviewing and deliberating on the proposals for this phase of the project. The selection is subject to approval by the Maryland Transportation Authority Board and the Maryland Board of Public Works.

Accelerate Maryland Partners’ proposal also includes commitments for transit improvements in Montgomery County, a loan program for local fleet conversions and partnerships with businesses owned by veterans and women. MDOT continues to work with Montgomery and Frederick counties to determine each county’s transit priorities.

Review by the Maryland Transportation Authority Board is expected in March. If the Maryland Board of Public Works approves the selection in May, then the partners would proceed with community collaboration efforts.

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If a build alternative is identified under the National Environmental Policy Act after the collaborative process, MDOT would seek final approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works.

“Having grown up in the region, I — like many of Transurban’s employees — am proud to call this region home,” said Pierce Coffee, president of Transurban North America. “With much work ahead, we are personally and professionally committed to a collaborative, flexible approach that puts customers first, minimizes impacts while building stronger communities and delivers on shared objectives for Maryland.”

MDOT also is progressing with its I-495 and I-270 managed lanes study. It is meant to evaluate alternatives to addressing needs associated with long-term traffic growth, trip reliability and the movement of goods.

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