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Higher Maryland Gas Tax Could Help Fund Widening Of I-270

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In less than a week, the first round of gas tax increases takes effect in Maryland. Supporters claim the new revenue will help fund new mass transit, road and bridge projects, but advocates of one road-widening project in Montgomery County hope it's not getting lost in the shuffle.

When gas tax hikes were being debated in Maryland's General Assembly, supporters kept pointing to how the new revenue could be used to built the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway in Montgomery County.

Another major project in the county, widening Interstate 270 north of Germantown, could also benefit. But many smart growth advocates don't want to see that project happen.

One leading smart growth group in the D.C.-region refuse to call the 270 widening an "improvement," saying instead that it would only encourage more people to drive instead of taking mass transit. Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews believes all three projects must get done.

"There's plenty of demand for both roads and transit. And we've got people with unbearable commutes in many cases on 270. And it's not reasonable to just let that continue," he says.

Four years ago, the Council asked the state to push the federal government for two "reversible" lanes on 270 to accomodate greater traffic flow in opposing directions depending on the time of day.

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