OPINION: 70 Legislators Propose County Consent Requirement For Toll Roads and Bridges

News Release, Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition

New toll roads and bridges would require consent from the counties where they are built under a bill introduced Friday by Delegate Mary Lehman (D-21) and Senator Susan Lee (D-16). They were joined by 53 co-sponsors in the House of Delegates and 15 co-sponsors in the Senate, representing 9 counties and Baltimore City.

The bill, HB292 / SB229, would extend to all Maryland counties the authority that Eastern Shore counties have had since 1978, requiring the state to obtain the “express consent” of a majority of the affected counties before starting construction of new toll roads and bridges.

Counties on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, for example, where a new bridge is under study, and along the Washington Beltway and I-270, where toll lanes have been proposed, would gain the same right to sign off on new toll facilities that the Eastern Shore counties have had for the last 42 years.

“The State’s top-down toll road planning has disregarded serious dialogue concerning financial risks,” Senator Lee said. “This bill will restore Maryland’s half-century tradition of collaboration and consultation between the State and the counties.”

“The economic, environmental, and financial health of Maryland is at stake in these major infrastructure decisions,” Delegate Lehman added. “Two members of the Board of Public Works should not have unchecked authority to make massive transportation investments that will affect the daily lives of millions of Maryland citizens for the rest of the 21st century.”

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