Jeremy Mohler: Gov. Hogan’s $9 Billion Highway Expansion Plan is Risky

Jeremy Mohler: Gov. Hogan’s $9 Billion Highway Expansion Plan is Risky

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is attempting to implement a $9 billion plan to build 100 miles of toll lanes on Maryland’s traffic-choked highways surrounding D.C. Rather than use public financing, Hogan is turning to the private markets to finance, build and operate the project. 

Elsewhere, these so-called public-private partnerships have led to problems, including next door in Virginia, where the state’s high-priced toll lanes are nicknamed “Lexus lanes.”

But there’s a further issue with building more lanes: they lure more drivers to the road, and traffic quickly rebounds, while the public purse is drained and pollution increases. At least that’s what a joint study by two public interest groups says. 

Gov. Hogan, however, has a different take. At a Board of Public Works meeting on Wednesday Hogan said his highway expansion will be good for the environment because it will allow cars to go faster, and what’s more, anyone who disagrees is a climate denier. “The science is clear… people’s traveling at greater speeds do produce lower carbon emissions. Challenging that is like being a climate change denier.”

Climate issues are not the only area where Gov. Hogan may be a step behind. By turning to private markets to finance his project, Hogan may be strapping Maryland with years-long debt. That’s what Jeremy Mohler of In the Public Interest told me in an interview for Pacifica Radio’s On the Ground

Public-private partnerships are “a form of privatization” which take “decision-making power away from residents,” Mohler said.

Photo credit: mdta.maryland.gov

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