The deterioration of MD-295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, has reached “a breaking point,” Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) told the members of Maryland’s congressional delegation in a letter.
“MD-295 is a dangerous and notoriously congested highway that has been problematic for decades,” Hogan wrote. “In recent weeks, however, we have reached a breaking point, with potholes, congestion, crashes, and debris creating driving conditions so hazardous that the speed limit between Routes 197 and 32 had to be lowered to 40 miles per hour.”
Hogan’s letter, sent Wednesday to the state’s two senators and eight members of the House, urges lawmakers anew to support the transfer of the road from the federal government to the state.
The road is owned by the Department of the Interior and is operated by the National Park Service. NPS said it lacks the funding needed to properly maintain the roads that run through its parks, a claim bolstered by members of Congress and outside groups.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) recently pegged the shortfall at nearly $12 billion.
Hogan, however, puts the blame on the park service.
“As public outrage has grown, NPS has increasingly demonstrated it is simply not up to the task of maintaining MD-295.”
“While I appreciate your efforts to hold NPS accountable, it is clear that the state taking ownership of the parkway is the only viable long-term solution to these problems,” he continued. “We want to take over the road because it is the best way to take care of the road.”
The governor notes that improvements to the road would benefit Fort Meade, the National Security Agency and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Hogan’s push to take control of the parkway began in 2017 with the unveiling of his plan to widen several of the state’s most heavily used and congested roads, including Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway (I-495), projects he would fund through public-private partnerships where the companies that handle the construction would get to charge tolls on the new lanes that are built.
The Democrats who control the General Assembly have resisted his road widening plan, and the state’s Capitol Hill delegation (nine Democrats and one Republican) has been slow to warm to his parkway takeover proposal.
The governor and the lawmakers meet on March 29 in Annapolis to discuss this and other issues.