Skip to main content
MDTA Home
Phase 1 South Toll Rate Range Setting Process - Comments Accepted until August 12, 2021
Traveled a Maryland Toll Road Since July 2020?
Go Early and Stay Late 1-877-BAYSPAN - Cross the Bay Bridge early Morning or late night.
Shift into drive: what keeps Maryland moving? DriveEZMD.com
Bay Crossing Study - Tier 1 NEPA - Email and web comments accepted until May 17
Traveled a Maryland Toll Road Since July 2020?
Go Early and Stay Late 1-877-BAYSPAN - Cross the Bay Bridge early Morning or late night.
Shift into drive: what keeps Maryland moving? DriveEZMD.com
Nice Bridge Attention Waterway Users
CSC Hours

Phase 1 South Toll Rate Range Setting Process  - American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 - Public Hearings

Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions and a glossary of terms that have been developed for the Phase 1 South Toll Rate Range Setting Process.

1. What is the purpose of the public hearings for the Phase 1 South Toll Rate Range Setting Process?

These hearings will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the tolling proposal (minimum and maximum toll rate ranges and the soft rate cap within, toll escalation process and discounts) for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. Verbal testimony and written comments will be part of the official record reviewed by the MDTA Board and MDTA Executive Director. The public comment period starts on Thursday, May 20, 2021, and closes on August 12, 2021, at 5:00 PM

2. What is Phase 1 South of the Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan?

The Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan is a historic effort to reduce congestion for millions of travelers in the National Capital Region. The Phase 1 South Toll Rate Range Setting Process is focusing on the American Legion Bridge up to  I-270, and north along I-270 to I-370, to address the regionally significant congestion bottleneck. Phase 1 South improvements include replacing the 60-year-old American Legion Bridge and adding two High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes in each direction across the American Legion Bridge to I-270.  Along I-270 to I-370, one existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane will be converted to a HOT lane and one HOT lane would be added in each direction. The existing general purpose lanes would continue to function as unrestricted free lanes.

project map

 

3. What is the status of Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370?

The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 (Phase 1 South) is part of the Managed Lanes Study (MLS), which is following the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.  The MLS is being developed on a separate independent track from the Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan and the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 Toll Rate Range Setting Process. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has identified Alternative 9: Phase 1 South as the Recommended Preferred Alternative (RPA) for the MLS. The MLS NEPA process will result in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD). Tolls will not be implemented within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 if the FEIS and the ROD do not include a managed lane Build Alternative.To learn more about the MLS NEPA process and the MDOT RPA Alternative 9: Phase 1 South, please visit 495-270-p3.com.

4. What are High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes?

HOT lanes are dedicated managed lanes within highway right of way that single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) motorists may use by paying a variably priced toll (a type of dynamic pricing). For HOT lanes with dynamic pricing, the toll varies in response to congestion levels as frequently as every 5 minutes. HOV 3+ vehicles, buses and motorcycles may use the HOT lanes for free.

5. How do HOT lanes benefit everyone?

When there are both HOT lanes and general purpose lanes, all travelers on the highway system and the local area network benefit. HOT lanes improve highway operations and provide the driving public, as well as transit riders, with reduced congestion, trip reliability and improved safety.

For transit riders, HOT lanes can significantly improve transit travel times and transit system reliability for regional express-bus services, which would travel for free in the HOT lanes. Travelers who choose to use the new HOT lanes will experience reliable and reduced travel times. Travelers who chose to use the free (general purpose) lanes will also see reduced travel times as seen along the I-495 and I-95 HOT Lanes in Virginia and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) north of Baltimore.

  • HOT lanes operate at 45 mph or higher while average speeds in the general purpose lanes also improve as drivers choosing HOT lanes help to reduce the number of vehicles in the general purpose lanes.
  • Improvements in speed and travel time encourage use of interstate and reduce cut-through traffic on local roadways.
  • By granting free passage to HOV 3+, buses and motorcycles, these new lanes will: give people a more reliable trip, provide more equitable opportunities with the option to travel free, reduce dependence on single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) and create new opportunities for ride sharing supporting regional, planning efforts to expand HOT/HOV usage.
  • Operationally compatible with Express/HOT lanes in VA.
  • Allows for increased speeds for buses in HOT lanes by providing free-flow traffic and assuring a reliable trip.
  • Provides HOT lane connections to existing transit service on local roads that serve offices, shops, and entertainment centers.
  • Provides connections that support existing and future transit service to underserved communities and businesses.

6. Why not use State funds to build needed infrastructure instead of tolling the managed (HOT) lanes?

State funding does not exist for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370; there are insufficient funds in the Transportation Trust Fund to finance this infrastructure. One of the benefits of the public-private partnership (P3) delivery model is that the private sector (i.e., the Phase 1 South Section Developer) is able to obtain financing to invest in the State’s infrastructure, in return for the revenue generated through a P3 Agreement. The goal is to provide congestion relief to the region at no net cost to the State’s transportation funding.

7. Is there a cost to doing nothing within Phase 1 South?

The cost of doing nothing is overwhelming. If the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the MDTA do not proceed with the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, Maryland has no funding options for replacing and improving the American Legion Bridge and I-270 to I-370. By only maintaining the American Legion Bridge, I-270 to I-370, and many associated elevated structures in a state of good repair, it would cost the State billions of dollars. Without a P3, those funds could no longer be used for other projects around the State. Phase 1 South alone will invest billions of dollars in private funding in critical infrastructure and help with Maryland’s economic recovery by creating thousands of local jobs and supporting freight movement throughout the National Capital Region, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

8.  Where can I learn more about topics such as the Managed Lanes Study (MLS) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process; MDOT SHA’s Recommended Preferred Alternative (Alternative 9: Phase 1 South) for the MLS, phased delivery; Phase 1 South Section Developer; Board of Public Works approvals; the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Program; and P3 Agreements?

Please visit 495-270-p3.com for more information.

9. What steps is the MDTA taking to obtain public comment as part of the toll rate range setting process for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370?

Per Maryland Transportation Code §4-312 and Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 11.07.05, the MDTA is taking the following steps to ensure an open and transparent public process:

  • The MDTA staff presented the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 tolling proposal to the MDTA Board on May 20, 2021, via a livestreamed meeting open to the public. At this meeting, the MDTA Board voted to seek public comment on the tolling proposal for Phase 1 South (including minimum and maximum toll rate ranges and the soft rate cap within, the toll escalation process, and discounts).
  • As of May 20, 2021, all public hearing materials, including information and studies used in the development of the Phase 1 South tolling proposal, were made available for public review and comment on the MDTA’s webpage at mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting.
  • The MDTA is holding two in-person testimony hearing sessions, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, July 12, at the Hilton Washington D.C./Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, and two call-in testimony hearing sessions, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14. There will be no formal presentation during the public hearings, and no responses to questions will be given. The public will be able to listen live to the hearings via telephone by calling 855-701-1977 or by watching a livestream on this webpage.
  • Register to provide testimony at a public hearing (in-person or call-in) online at https://mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting/PublicParticipation or by calling 888-725-0174. The public will be allotted three minutes, and elected officials will be allotted five minutes, per person for testimony.
  • A quorum of the MDTA Board Members (a minimum of five MDTA Board Members) and the MDTA Chairman or his designee will be present for both in-person and call-in testimony public hearings.
  • After completing the last public hearing, the MDTA will continue to accept voicemail testimony, as well as online and written comments, from the public until 5:00 PM on August 12, 2021.

10. What happens after the public hearings?

The process for finalizing and approving the proposed Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 toll rate ranges also is specified in Maryland Transportation Code §4-312 and COMAR 11.07.05, and includes the following:

  • In summer 2021, the MDTA staff will present a summary and analysis of comments received to the MDTA Board Members during an open meeting conducted via livestream, and the comment summary and analysis will be posted to the MDTA webpage at mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting.  During this Board Meeting, the MDTA staff will present the recommended action (recommended toll rate ranges) for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. The public is welcome to watch the MDTA Board Meeting via livestream on the MDTA’s webpage at mdta.maryland.gov/Meeting_Schedules/MDTA_Board_Meeting_Schedule.html
  • The MDTA must accept written comments on the recommended Phase 1 South toll rate ranges for at least 10 business days after the summer 2021 Board Meeting.  There will be a second public comment period associated with this Board Meeting.
  • In fall 2021, the MDTA staff will present a summary and analysis of any public comments received during the second public comment period to the MDTA Board Members at an open meeting conducted via livestream, and the comment summary and analysis will be posted to the MDTA webpage at mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting.  During this meeting, the MDTA Board will vote on the final recommended toll rate ranges for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. Before the Board votes, the public will be provided a third opportunity to comment on the final recommended toll rate ranges for Phase 1 South during the MDTA Board Meeting. Pre-registration is required to comment during the MDTA Board Meeting. Please visit mdta.maryland.gov/Meeting_Schedules/MDTA_Board_Meeting_Schedule.html for registration details.

11. What information is available for review and comment?

  • Public hearing materials related to the toll rate range setting process for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 are available at mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting and include a Virtual Information Room with informational boards; downloadable copies of the informational boards and transcripts that help further explain contents of the boards; press releases and flyers; Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); information on providing written comments, including an electronic comment form; Title VI compliance information; a Title VI survey form. Registration to provide testimony at a public hearing is also available at https://mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting/PublicParticipation.

    Individuals that are unable to access the hearing materials online, require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or require language translation services (free of charge), should contact the MDTA at mdtaeeo@mdta.maryland.gov  or 410-537-6720 at least 10 days prior to the first hearing.

12. What information and studies were used to develop the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 toll rate range proposal?

13. What are the responsibilities of the MDTA, MDOT SHA and the Phase 1 South Section Developer?

MDOT, including MDOT SHA, and the MDTA will both be party to the P3 Agreements. MDOT SHA is responsible for the overall management of the P3 Program development and delivery. The MDTA is the only State entity with the authority to set, revise and fix tolls for State transportation facilities and is responsible for setting a toll rate range and conducting toll collection operations for Phase 1 South. The toll rate ranges for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 will be established by the MDTA only after a period of public comment, review and hearings.

14. Is dynamic tolling used for managed lanes in other areas?

Yes. Dynamically priced managed lanes have been successfully implemented and are operating in many locations around the country, including in Virginia.  The Virginia I-495 Express Lanes, which will connect to the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 project, uses dynamic pricing, as well as the Virginia I-95/I-395 Express Lanes.

15. Can I drive within the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 limits and not pay a toll?

Yes, the current general purpose lanes will remain open for free travel, as well as opportunities for free travel in the HOT lanes for HOV 3+ (vehicles with three or more passengers), buses and motorcycles.

VEHICLES THAT TRAVEL FOR FREE IN THE PHASE 1 SOUTH HOT LANES

16: What is meant by “HOV 3+”?

HOV 3+ describes a type of High-Occupancy Vehicle that carries 3 or more passengers. The free passage discount will be granted to HOV 3+, buses and motorcycles along the Phase 1 South HOT lanes.

17: How is an HOV 3+ designation obtained and how will it be enforced?

It is up to the Phase 1 South Section Developer to determine how HOV 3+ will be enforced within the toll lanes.

18. How will the toll rates within approved toll rate ranges be set within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370?

The Phase 1 South Section Developer will monitor real-time traffic operations in the HOT lanes, including the travel speeds and traffic volumes within each tolling segment. The Developer will use electronic algorithms to dynamically set tolls in as frequently as 5-minute increments in response to real-time traffic conditions, ensuring a faster, more reliable trip to customers who choose to pay a toll, or who use HOV 3+ vehicles, buses or motorcycles in the HOT lanes. The toll rates will be adjusted based on the operation of the HOT lanes but within the parameters of the established toll rate ranges and soft rate caps for Phase 1 South.

19. How often is the maximum toll rate expected to be implemented?

The maximum toll rate may be reached in extremely rare circumstances when traffic demand is very high within a given tolling segment (e.g., due to severe crashes or extreme weather events). During these events, toll rates in just the affected toll segments could incrementally increase to the maximum toll rate allowed and decrease incrementally as traffic conditions improve. Maximum toll rates would not be applied to the entire length of Phase 1 South HOT lanes, as rates would remain lower in less congested toll segments. Since unusually high congestion events could occur on any part of Phase 1 South, each toll segment could theoretically reach the maximum toll rate at a given point in time. However, the probability of reaching the maximum toll rate in most segments is rare and much less than one day per year. The probability is highest on the Northbound portion of Phase 1 South, north of the American Legion Bridge.

20. What will prevent the toll rates being set to simply maximize profit by the Section Developer?

The Phase 1 South Section Developer for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 will be required to meet certain operational metrics associated with performance of the HOT lanes, such as speed and volume. A toll rate setting algorithm formulated by the Phase 1 South Section Developer will incorporate these metrics and calculate the toll rates required to meet or exceed those metrics.  In addition, the MDTA Board will approve the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 toll rate ranges allowed to be used by the Section Developer with soft rate caps and maximum toll rate caps as required by Maryland law and with soft rate caps after public hearings, reviews, and comment.

21: How does the Soft Rate Cap Work?

The soft rate cap ensures the developer charges toll rates only up to a certain toll rate unless warranted by traffic or speeds.  The soft rate cap may be exceeded if the average traffic volume measured in a segment during the preceding five-minute period exceeds 1,600 passenger car equivalent vehicles per hour per lane (PCEphpl), OR the average speed in a segment during the preceding five-minute period is below 50 miles per hour.  The soft rate cap will always be lower than the maximum toll rate and can be exceeded only temporarily to provide customers who choose to pay a toll a faster and more reliable trip when traffic conditions are approaching capacity. 

In instances where the soft rate cap thresholds are exceeded, a new temporary revised toll rate cap is calculated using a demand factor.  The demand factor is based on the PCEphpl, and the revised toll rate cap is calculated by multiplying the current toll rate cap (initially the soft rate cap or for subsequent calculations the new revised toll rate cap) by the demand factor for each five-minute period.  Once traffic throughput and speed performance thresholds are not met, the revised toll rate cap will be decreased by multiplying by a demand factor of 0.90 until the revised toll rate cap returns to the soft rate cap.  Based on traffic studies and analysis, the soft rate cap is anticipated to be generally reached and/or exceeded between 4 and 7 p.m., primarily on the inner loop with  the highest occurrences at or near the American Legion Bridge.  MDTA has prepared a video to explain how the soft rate cap works here:  mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting.

22. In Virginia, some commuters reportedly have paid upwards of $40.00 during certain peak travel hours. Should Phase 1 South continue to advance, won’t this also be the case in Maryland? What prevents the Developer from charging high rates like what has been charged on I-66 in Virginia?

  • In Virginia, the extremely high tolls reported were on I-66 Inside the Beltway where VDOT added no capacity to the roadway and allowed non-HOV vehicles to pay a toll to use I-66 during HOV-only hours. Prior to tolling on I-66 Inside the Beltway, single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) were restricted from using the roadway during peak periods.
  • One of the key differences between Maryland’s Phase 1 South and I-66 Inside the Beltway is that if Maryland provides new HOT lanes for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, the existing general purpose lanes will remain free for everyone’s use. Travelers would have the option either to travel for free in the general purpose lanes or pay a toll to use the HOT lanes. The HOT lanes would also result in opportunities for new rapid transit bus services as well. On I-66 Inside the Beltway, there are no free general purpose lanes as an option. In addition, I-66 Inside the Beltway allows free travel for HOV users with two or more occupants (HOV-2). The HOT lanes in Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 will allow free travel for HOV with three or more people (HOV-3+), buses and motorcycles. This will result in more available capacity for toll-paying customers.

23: What happens if tolls rates increase after a vehicle enters the toll lanes and is in the middle of traveling to a destination?

Drivers will only pay the advertised toll rate upon entering the toll lane system.  While the toll rates on each segment are updated every five minutes based on current traffic conditions, these new rates only apply to new users that enter the toll lanes.  There is no additional charge to exit the toll lane system.

24. How will Maryland’s tolling process compare to Virginia’s?

The toll rates along Virginia’s portion of I-495 may be different than the toll rates along Maryland’s Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 HOT lanes. A pricing sign located ahead of the driver’s  decision point will display the price to travel to the destination shown.  The price displayed at the point of entry is the amount that will be charged.  Well in advance of each subsequent toll segment, a sign will display the price for further travel.  Motorists may choose to continue traveling in the HOT lanes, or to exit the HOT lanes at no extra cost.  Exits will be clearly marked and positioned to allow ample decision time. Upon exit, the toll trip would be complete.

Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 will use dynamic pricing that incorporates the established toll rate ranges as part of the Section Developer’s price setting algorithm (formula) to ensure requirements such as minimum speeds can be met. However, unlike Virginia, Maryland will have toll rate ranges that cap the maximum toll along Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. These toll rate caps will limit what the Section Developer is allowed to charge based on actual HOT lanes operating conditions, including a maximum toll rate that cannot be exceeded under any circumstances.

In addition, there will be variable message boards that provide travelers with information on the price of the Maryland HOT lanes to several destinations before they choose whether to enter the HOT lanes or to travel the general purpose lanes.

25. On the day the HOT lanes open on Phase 1 South, what would a commuter expect to pay to travel between the new American Legion Bridge and I-370?

The toll on Day 1 will depend on many factors including but not limited to the amount of traffic using the lanes, the vehicle classification and payment type used, etc. Assuming the minimum toll rate using an E-ZPass® transponder in a 2-axle vehicle, traveling from the new American Legion Bridge to I-370, with the proposed toll rate ranges, the toll rate could be as low as $2.40 for the 12 miles. However, the toll rate ranges within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 must still be approved by the MDTA Board after the public hearings, reviews, and a comment process as required by Maryland Law.

26. The pandemic has impacted workplaces and commuting throughout the region. How have traffic counts averaged on a monthly or quarterly basis in the last year?

MDOT has been closely monitoring traffic patterns throughout the pandemic, and we are continuing to monitor travel changes and projections.  Currently, daily traffic volumes on I-495 and I-270 are down between 10 to 20 percent compared to the same time in 2019/2020 due to closures and policies.

27. With some experts predicting the pandemic will have lasting impacts on office work (more working from home), have you made adjustments to traffic projections statewide and in this region?

MDOT and the MDTA have been closely monitoring traffic patterns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing to monitor travel changes and projections. As part of our study, MDOT is performing several sensitivity analyses, or “what if” scenarios, that consider increased levels of telework, increased levels of eCommerce, decreased discretionary activity and reduced demand when compared to the 2045 regional baseline model to ensure the MDOT Recommended Preferred Alternative (Alternative 9: Phase 1 South) will be needed and effective if future 2045 demand is different from pre-pandemic forecasts. The results of these sensitivity analyses are a key component of the ongoing environmental evaluation.

The P3 Program and Managed Lanes Study are being developed to accommodate long-term traffic demand for 25 years into the future. The National Capital Region’s long-range transportation plan, Visualize 2045, defined initiatives needed to significantly improve the region’s future transportation system performance to account for population growth of 1.3 million and job growth of 1 million by 2045. These initiatives included increased telework, increased transit through moving more people on Metrorail and expanding bus rapid transit, improving walking and bike access to transit, and expansion of the express highway network as is being developed by the P3 Program and Managed Lanes Study.

In addition, Maryland’s highway network remains key to the growth of freight not just during this pandemic but also as our economy continues to recover. Expansion of Amazon in Virginia and in Maryland (fulfillment centers in Baltimore and Cecil counties and two planned delivery stations in Prince George’s County) along with growth of freight cargo at BWI Marshall Airport will be increasing components of this. From an even broader national perspective, providing reliable capacity to move freight on Maryland highways is crucial to maintaining supply chains and growing our economy. From 2012 to 2045, freight in the United States is expected to grow by 40 percent.

Creating a transportation network that best accommodates current and future demands will require every tool we have: transit, managed lanes, teleworking, ride sharing, provisions for electric autonomous vehicles, greater bike and pedestrian connections, and more.

28. How will future changes to the toll rate ranges for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 be determined in future years?

The approved toll rate ranges are intended for the duration of the Phase 1 South agreement (anticipated to be 50 years). For the toll rates to effectively manage demand and ensure reliability for users of the HOT lanes into the future, the maximum toll rate range, soft rate cap and unregistered video surcharge will escalate over time to account for inflation, population employment, and income growth. The minimum toll rate range and minimum toll are subject to escalation for inflation only. Once approved, any revision to the toll rate ranges would have to be further approved by the MDTA Board after another public hearing, review, and comment process as required by Maryland law.

29. What are annual escalation factors?

The MDTA Board will be approving toll rate ranges within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 for all vehicle classifications and payment types including electronic toll collection (ETC) with E-ZPass, Pay-By-Plate (registered video), and Video Toll (unregistered video). Toll rate ranges will include a minimum per mile rate, a soft cap per mile rate, and a maximum per mile rate. The Phase 1 South toll rate ranges are intended to apply for the entire duration of the P3 agreement (anticipated to be 50 years).

In order for the toll rates to effectively manage demand for the HOT lanes into the future, the rates will have to increase over time to account for inflation, which causes the value of money to decrease over time; and growth in demand for use of the HOT lanes over time, which captures changes in population, employment and income. NOTE that the minimum toll rate range and the minimum trip toll are both subject to escalation for inflation only. 

To account for all of these changes, the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 maximum toll rate range, soft rate cap and unregistered video surcharge will be adjusted annually by an escalation factor that accounts for inflation and growth in demand. The escalation factor value is set based on historic trends and future projections for population and economic growth and by the Washington Metro regional consumer price index – all urban consumers (CPI-U)* values for the cost of goods and services.  It is based on a formula that will be approved by the MDTA Board. 

*The CPI-U is designated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics under the code CUURS35ASA0.

30. Time-of-day congestion pricing on the MDTA’s ICC/MD 200 and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) in Baltimore seems to be effective, familiar and accepted in Maryland already. Why couldn’t this strategy be adopted for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 instead of dynamic pricing?

Congestion pricing based on time of day effectively manages traffic on the ICC/MD 200 and the I-95 ETL; however, given the levels and duration of severe traffic within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, dynamic pricing that changes as frequently as every five minutes would more optimally manage traffic capacity to provide more reliable free-flowing highway travel speeds and travel times. Dynamic pricing would do so by allowing the toll to adjust on a real-time basis to meet the approved operational metrics. This is an important tool to keep the facility meeting or exceeding the operational metrics of travel speed and traffic volumes.

31. Could dynamic toll rates be used on other MDTA facilities as well?

Maryland law allows the MDTA to use several different tolling strategies; dynamic pricing is one example of a tolling strategy. However, this tolling strategy is only planned for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, not for the MDTA’s other toll facilities, at this time. If revised toll rates or a change in the toll rate ranges are to be considered for other toll facilities, they would have to be approved by the MDTA Board after a public hearing, review, and public comment process as required by Maryland law. Congestion pricing, as well as other congestion management tools, have been evaluated for other MDTA facilities and deemed not required or effective at the current time.

32. How can the public be assured that the Phase 1 South Section Developer isn’t getting too much toll revenue?

The P3 Agreement will require the Section Developer of Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 to share in toll revenues in excess of what is necessary to fund the construction and operation of the project and provide for a return (profit) consistent with what was included in their proposal.  The Internal Rate of Return (Equity IRR) as well as profit margins for work during construction and operations were elements of the evaluation criteria that were competitively scored as part of the RFP process, incentivizing proposers to reduce them as much as possible while still being in position to deliver the project at no net cost to the state of Maryland.

PUBLIC COMMENT & ACCESSIBILITY

1. How may I comment on the tolling proposal for inclusion in the official record for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370?

  • Register to provide testimony at a public hearing (in-person or call-in) online at mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting/PublicParticipation or by calling 888-725-0174.
  • Leave call-in testimony through voicemail by calling 855-701-1977 (limited to 3 minutes).
  • Provide written comments by:
    • Submitting an electronic comment form available on the webpage at: mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting
    • Downloading and emailing a completed comment form to:ALB270TollSetting@mdta.maryland.gov
    • Printing and mailing a completed comment form by U.S. Mail to:
      Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 Toll Rate Range Setting Public Comment
      Maryland Transportation Authority
      2310 Broening Highway Baltimore, MD 21224

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on August 12, 2021, for inclusion in the official record on the proposed toll rate range for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. ALL COMMENTS, whether provided at the hearings through testimony OR through other methods (comment form, email, letter, or voicemail), will be given EQUAL CONSIDERATION.

2. Who do I contact if I need special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or require language translation services?

Individuals who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or require language translation services (free of charge), should contact the MDTA’s Title VI Officer at mdtaeeo@mdta.maryland.gov or by calling 410-537-6720 at least ten days prior to the first public hearing.

3. When will the public hearings be held and how may I register to provide testimony at a hearing?

The MDTA will hold two in-person testimony hearing sessions, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, July 12, at the Hilton Washington D.C./Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, and two call-in testimony hearing sessions, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14. There will be no formal presentation during the public hearings, and no responses to questions will be given. The public will be able to listen live to the hearings via telephone by calling 855-701-1977 or by watching a livestream on this webpage.

Register to provide testimony at a public hearing (in-person or call-in) online at https://mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting/PublicParticipation or by calling 888-725-0174. The public will be allotted three minutes, and elected officials will be allotted five minutes, per person for testimony.

TOLL COLLECTION

1. How would tolls be collected within the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 limits?

Tolls would be collected using an all-electronic (cashless) toll collection system with overhead tolling gantries at multiple locations along the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 limits. With all-electronic tolling, drivers do not stop to pay tolls. Instead, tolls are collected at highway speeds with sensors and cameras. There are three ways vehicles using the HOT lanes could pay their toll:

  • BEST! Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) with E-ZPass account: When a vehicle equipped with an E-ZPass transponder travels under a toll gantry, the transponder transmits an identifying number that registers the vehicle's use of the HOT lanes at that location and an electronic payment system charges the user the toll. E-ZPass customers pay the lowest tolls on every trip, and E-ZPass transponders are free. Also, there’s no monthly fee for Maryland residents.
  • BETTER! Pay-By-Plate (Registered Video): Drivers without an E-ZPass account may register their license plate and a credit card for payment. When registered drivers travel under the toll gantries, a video image of the vehicle’s license plate is taken and the corresponding credit card is charged. No prepaid balance or transponder are required. The toll rate is 25% higher than the base rate (E-ZPass account), and Pay-By-Plate is only valid for Maryland toll facilities.
  • GOOD! Video Tolling (Unregistered Video): Drivers without E-ZPass or Pay-By-Plate accounts may use the HOT lanes and pay their toll after receiving a mailed invoice, called a Notice of Toll Due (NOTD). However, a higher toll rate is charged for Video Tolling (50% more than the base rate for E-ZPass account holders). Customers can receive an early payment discount of 15% off their toll up to $5 for unregistered video trips if paid before notice is mailed. For more information about how all-electronic tolls are collected and payment methods, visit DriveEzMD.com.

2. Where will the proposed all-electronic toll gantries be located?

The exact location of the all-electronic toll gantries will be determined by the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 Section Developer within the terms of the P3 Agreement.

3. How do I get an E-ZPass transponder?

  • Visit DriveEzMD.com to sign up today.
  • Visit an E-ZPass Maryland Customer Service Center.
  • Pick up an E-ZPass “On the Go,” available at most MDOT Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) locations and at participating retailers.
GLOSSARY

Glossary:

  • Back-Office Toll-Process Services
    The MDTA’s customer service system that works behind the scenes to link the customer to their electronic toll collection account and to the MDTA. The system includes a customer call-in center, customer account management system, toll transaction processing, license plate image review, mail-out invoice processing and toll payment processing. 
  • Dynamic Tolling
    A method of calculating the toll where the dynamic pricing mileage rate varies within the approved toll rate range in real time. This method of tolling is new to Maryland, and would be used within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. 

    Tolls are continually adjusted (as frequently as every 5 minutes, if needed) according to traffic conditions to maintain a free-flowing level of traffic (45 mph or higher). Toll rates will generally increase when the HOT lanes are relatively full and decrease when the HOT lanes are less full. The current toll rates for common destinations are displayed on electronic signs prior to entrance to the toll lanes.

  • Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) with E-ZPass® Account
    A cashless system that automatically collects the toll charged to vehicles using the HOT lanes at highway speeds with no toll plazas or toll booths. Vehicles using the system are equipped with an E-ZPass transponder. When the vehicle passes under a tolling gantry, the transponder transmits an identifying number that registers the vehicle's use of the HOT lanes at that location and an electronic payment system charges the user the toll. E-ZPass customers pay the lowest tolls on every trip, and E-ZPass transponders are free. Also, there’s no monthly fee for Maryland residents. New customers can use cash, check, money order or credit card to open an E-ZPass account at various locations. 

  • Escalation
    The minimum and maximum toll rate ranges, including the soft rate cap within, and unregistered video surcharge are anticipated to escalate annually. Annual escalation ensures toll rates will keep up with (1) the growing traffic demand for the HOT lanes, (2) annual inflation, and (3) the goal of providing a faster and more-reliable trip for customers who choose to pay the toll over the life of Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. The minimum toll rate range and minimum trip toll would be escalated based on inflation only.
  • Fixed Price Toll Facility
    A highway or transportation facility where vehicles are subject to a toll that remains constant over time until the toll schedule is changed. Examples include the Bay Bridge and the Baltimore Harbor crossings (I-95, I-895, and I-695). This type of tolling would not be used within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. 
  • Maximum Toll Rate
    The highest per-mile toll rate that may be charged within any tolling segment for the HOT lanes. Under no circumstances will the maximum toll rates be exceeded. In extremely rare circumstances, when traffic demand is very high within a given tolling segment, the toll rate may reach the maximum toll rate. 
  • Minimum Toll Rate
    The lowest per-mile toll rate that may be charged within any tolling segment for the HOT lanes or the lowest total toll that may be charged regardless of how far a vehicle has traveled (not per mile). Ensures short trips on the facility are charged a flat minimum toll to cover the toll capture, processing, and collection costs. 
  • Pay-By-Plate (Registered Video) 
    Drivers without an E-ZPass account may register their license plate and a credit card for payment. When registered drivers travel under the toll gantries, a video image of the vehicle’s license plate is taken and the corresponding credit card is charged. No prepaid balance or transponder are required. The toll rate is 25% higher than the base rate (E-ZPass account), and Pay-By-Plate is only valid for Maryland toll facilities. 
  • PCEphpl
    Passenger Car Equivalents per hour per lane. This is used as a performance metric threshold in determining when the soft rate cap could be exceeded. It accounts for the additional space that large vehicles and vehicle/trailer combinations take up on roadways compared to passenger cars. The PCE calculation assumes a factor of 1 for two-axle vehicles and a factor of 2.5 for each 3-or-more-axle vehicle. 
  • Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan
    Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan is comprised of two sections: Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 and Phase 1 North: I-270 from I-370 to I-70. 
  • Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370
    Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 is the first section of Phase 1: The American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-70 Relief Plan that would be constructed through a Developer. The limits include I-495 from the George Washington Parkway across the American Legion Bridge to I-270, and along I-270 to I-370. 
  • Soft Rate Cap
    The per-mile toll rate amount that can only be exceeded when at least one of the following thresholds are met within a given tolling segment during the preceding 5-minute period: traffic volume exceeds 1,600 passenger car equivalent vehicles per hour per lane (PCEphpl) or the average speed in a tolling segment is below 50 mph. Although not standard practice in the tolling industry, the MDTA is choosing to be one of only two states in the United States to set a soft rate cap to constrain the toll rate as a protective measure for customers. The soft rate cap will always be lower than the maximum toll rate and can be exceeded only temporarily to provide customers who choose to pay a toll, a faster and more reliable trip. The soft rate cap will only be exceeded until the throughput and speed performance targets are achieved in the affected tolling segment, and then the toll rate will gradually return to the soft rate cap or below. 
  • Tolling Point
    One point along the HOT lanes where a vehicle is logged as having used that segment of the toll facility, called a toll transaction. The tolling points will be joined together to determine a vehicle’s trip. 
  • Tolling Segment
    A defined portion of roadway along the HOT lanes whereby a toll is assessed at the tolling point. A segment is typically defined between interchanges and/or access points. 
  • Trip
    A bundled group of toll transactions relating to a single trip or passage in the HOT lanes. It is created by combining the tolls from consecutive tolling points along the HOT lanes to cover the full length of a vehicle’s trip. 
  • Variably Priced Toll Facility
    A highway or transportation facility where vehicles are subject to a toll that varies based on time-of-day pricing (similar to ICC/MD 200) or dynamic pricing where vehicles are subject to a toll that varies within the approved toll rate range in real time based on traffic conditions (dynamic pricing would apply to the Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 HOT Lanes). 
  • Video Tolling (Unregistered Video) 
    Drivers without E-ZPass or Pay-By-Plate accounts may use the HOT lanes and pay their toll after receiving a mailed invoice, called a Notice of Toll Due (NOTD). However, a higher toll rate is charged for Video Tolling (50% more than the base rate for E-ZPass account holders). Customers can receive an early payment discount of 15% off their toll up to $5 for unregistered video trips if paid before notice is mailed. For more information about how all-electronic tolls are collected and payment methods, visit DriveEzMD.com. 
WAS THIS PAGE HELPFUL?