FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2021
TOLL RATE RANGES APPROVED FOR
PHASE 1 SOUTH: AMERICAN LEGION BRIDGE I-270 TO I-370
Includes soft rate cap and free passage for transit buses, motorcycles, vehicles with 3+ passengers
BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) today announced the approved toll rate ranges for the proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. The announcement follows an extensive public comment process that began in May and concluded today with the MDTA Board vote to approve the toll rate ranges during its livestreamed Board meeting.
At the meeting, MDTA staff presented its final recommendation and the summary analysis and report from the second public comment period, which was held September 30 to October 28. Prior to the vote on the final toll rate ranges, which will be part of the Op Lanes Maryland program, the MDTA Board opened the floor for additional in-person comments. However no members of the public attended the meeting to provide comments. To view the complete toll rate ranges, visit mdta.maryland.gov/ALB270TollSetting.
As a result of comments received during the first public comment period, which ran May 20 to August 14 and included in-person and virtual call-in public hearings, the approved toll rate ranges reflect a base minimum per-mile toll rate of 17 cents per mile, which is lower than the 20 cents per mile proposed in May. The 17 cents per-mile minimum toll rate is consistent with the base off-peak minimum per-mile toll rate for the MDTA’s Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200. In addition to the new Op Lanes, all existing general purpose lanes across the American Legion Bridge and north on I-270 to I-370 would remain, and would be free for use by all motorists.
MDTA staff’s due diligence and thorough research of various projects across the nation led first to the tolling proposal and final recommendation for Maryland’s first dynamically tolled facility.
“Maryland is making the choice to be one of only two states in the nation to incorporate a soft rate cap, which would constrain the toll rate as a protective measure for our customers,” said MDTA Executive Director James F. Ports, Jr. “And just like at every toll facility in our state, E-ZPass® Maryland customers will pay the lowest tolls on every trip.”
Elements of the approved toll rate ranges include:
- Minimum and Maximum Toll Rate Ranges: This is the lowest and highest per-mile toll rates that may be charged within any tolling segment. The minimum toll rate also refers to the lowest total toll (not per mile) that may be charged, regardless of how far a vehicle travels, to ensure short Op Lanes trips are charged a flat minimum toll to cover toll collection costs.
- Soft Rate Cap: A per-mile toll rate within each toll rate range that can only be exceeded if and when vehicle speed is reduced, or traffic volumes increase, to predetermined speed and throughput thresholds. The caps protect our customers by ensuring the Section Developer may only exceed a specific per-mile toll rate (within the approved ranges) for the impacted tolling segment as specified by predetermined thresholds. This will provide drivers choosing to use the Op Lanes a faster and more reliable trip.
- Discounts: To provide opportunities for faster, more reliable carpooling, vanpooling and transit options, free passage will be granted in the Op Lanes for High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) 3+ (all vehicles carrying three or more passengers) and buses, as well as for motorcycles.
- Escalation Factors: The approved toll rate ranges are intended for the duration of the Phase 1 South agreement. For the toll rates to effectively manage demand and ensure reliability for users of the Op 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 per-mile toll rate and minimum toll are subject to escalation for inflation only.
The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study on October 1, 2021. The SDEIS provides new information related to Preferred Alternative, Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. Publication of the SDEIS is part of the ongoing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
This SDEIS has been prepared to consider new information developed after the DEIS was published in July 2020, and presents results relevant to Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, which was identified on May 12, 2021, by FHWA and MDOT SHA as the Preferred Alternative. This alternative focuses on replacing the 60-year-old American Legion Bridge and delivering two Op Lanes in each direction within Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. The public comment period for the SDEIS is continuing through November 30. More details can be found at oplanesmd.com/SDEIS/.
The Preferred Alternative is designed to provide a new American Legion Bridge, address existing traffic and long-term traffic growth, enhance trip reliability, support regional transit improvements, foster new opportunities for transit and increased carpool/vanpool/ridesharing, and improve the movement of goods and services. In addition, the alternative would provide pedestrian and bicycle improvements to enhance connectivity of area sidewalks and trails, including the addition of a shared use path on the new American Legion Bridge across the Potomac River.
Transit buses, motorcycles, and HOV 3+ vehicles – those carrying three or more people – would be permitted to use the Op Lanes toll free. On I-495, the Preferred Alternative consists of adding two new Op Lanes in each direction from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Fairfax County, Va., to east of MD 187, Old Georgetown Road. On I-270, the Preferred Alternative consists of converting the one existing HOV lane in each direction to an Op Lane and adding one new Op Lane in each direction on I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370, and on the I-270 east and west spurs. All existing general purpose lanes would remain, and would be free for use by all motorists.
If you are unable to access the materials online, or if you require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or require language translation services (free of charge), please contact the MDTA’s Title VI Officer at email@example.com or at 410-537-6720.