Showing posts with label I-270. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I-270. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Losing to Virginia on another factory, is Montgomery County in the hunt for IKEA manufacturing site?

Montgomery County and Maryland were beaten in the economic development game again by Virginia yesterday. Will they be players in the next big manufacturing competition, for an IKEA factory on American soil? Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office announced Tuesday that his state had won the competition for a 400,000-square-foot Condair Group AG manufacturing facility. The press release indicated that Virginia and South Carolina were the two finalists. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported this past weekend that IKEA is scouting for factory locations in the United States, due to increasing disruptions in international shipping lanes.

Virginia could already have a [LÖVBACKEN table] leg up in the IKEA race, as the Swedish furniture giant previously operated its only U.S. factory in Danville, Virginia from 2008 to 2019. It ultimately closed that plant, shipping its 300 jobs back to Europe. Montgomery County has plenty of room for an IKEA plant in the I-270 corridor, where there is also potential direct rail access to the CSX Metropolitan Subdivision for domestic or port shipping purposes. Of course, Baltimore, Hagerstown and Cumberland are among the struggling Maryland cities that could use an IKEA plant to help revive their once-mighty industrial areas.

There's no indication of Montgomery County or Maryland having been in the hunt for the Condair plant. The $57.2 million investment by Condair in Chesterfield County, Virginia will create 180 good-paying industrial jobs with full benefits. Instead of Condair products being exported out of the Port of Baltimore, they'll be headed out of Richmond Marine Terminal in Virginia, according to the press release.

"When an international brand like Condair makes the decision to locate in Virginia, the positive ripple-effects of economic investment, job creation and cargo growth are felt throughout the Commonwealth," Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards said in a statement. "The Port of Virginia will be among the beneficiaries of Condair’s location in Chesterfield County, which is not far from Richmond Marine Terminal. We are ready to collaborate with Condair to help it leverage the assets of this port — America’s most modern gateway — to ensure it has access to world markets." 

"Virginia is the perfect location for the international company Condair to establish its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility," Youngkin said in a statement Tuesday. "We applaud the 21st century manufacturing jobs that this project will bring to Chesterfield County."

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Rockville Mayor & Council ask for more time to study new I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes material

Rockville's Mayor and Council last night voted to approve a letter to Maryland state officials seeking more time for the city to review new material related to the controversial I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes highway expansion study. There are 26,000 pages of new environmental impact study results, Councilmember Mark Pierzchala noted. He added that local stakeholders also need more time to "validate" new modeling used by the state of Maryland for the project. 

The proposed expansion championed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) would include new toll lanes along both interstates, widening of the highways to accommodate those lanes, and a future connection to tolled Express Lanes on the Virginia side of the American Legion Bridge. Residents in affected areas of Rockville, Bethesda and Silver Spring have expressed opposition to the environmental impacts of the plan, and potential taking of homes for the project.

Monday, February 21, 2022

The People's Convoy trucker protest scheduled to pass through Rockville via I-270 to Capital Beltway March 5

Traffic alert: The People's Convoy, a cross-county trucker protest scheduled to begin Wednesday, February 23, 2022, in California, is scheduled to pass through Germantown, Gaithersburg and Rockville on I-270 on March 5. Truckers participating in the mobile rally are expected to arrive in Hagerstown a day earlier via I-70, then take I-270 south to the Capital Beltway on the morning of March 5. The resulting traffic is expected to cause delays around the entire Beltway on that Saturday.

Organizers for the convoy characterized the event as "a peaceful and law-abiding transcontinental journey toward the east coast" in a press release, inspired by the recent trucker protest in Canada. Participating organizations and leaders identified in the press release include Dr. Pierre Kory, attorney Tom Renz, Nevada gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert, Pastors Rob McCoy and Rick Brown, transportation workers, railroad workers, airline pilots, The Unity Project, The America Project, Advocates for Citizens' Rights, U.S. Freedom Flyers, The American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom, and faith groups from across the country.

What organizers seek is the lifting of all coronavirus mandates and restrictions nationwide, and the cancellation of the national emergency regarding Covid-19. What they will do upon arriving in the D.C. area is the subject of conflicting reports. The People's Convoy website states that the convoy will peacefully disband when it arrives in the D.C. area, and will not enter the city of Washington, D.C. Fox 5 reports that the truckers plan to shut down the Capital Beltway using the convoy, but that is not stated on the People's Convoy official website. What is clear, is that there will very likely be a traffic impact on that day, and you may want to make plans accordingly.

UPDATE: February 21, 12:35 PM:

The Maryland State Police has issued the following statement regarding the trucker convoy:

Maps via

Monday, June 15, 2020

I-270 resurfacing begins

The Maryland State Highway Administration is beginning a resurfacing project on southbound I-270 between Falls Road in Rockville and Democracy Boulevard in Bethesda. Expect lane closures in that direction between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM Sundays-Thursdays through late summer 2020. SHA says that two lanes will always be open southbound during the work hours. Sure enough, crews were out already Sunday evening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sneak peek: Watkins Mill interchange highway signs (Photos)

Well, look what I found up the road in Gaithersburg. The interstate-standard highway signs for the Watkins Mill interchange at I-270. Aside from Watkins Mill Road, the signs direct drivers to Montgomery Village, Seneca Creek State Park, NIST and the MARC station. Not shown, thanks to the Montgomery County Council defiantly refusing to build the master plan M-83 Highway, are directions to Germantown, Clarksburg and Damascus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Metered on-ramps advancing for I-270 congestion

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, contractors for the Maryland State Highway Administration are pressing forward with Gov. Larry Hogan's congestion relief plan for Interstate 270. In contrast to the loud political arguments over Hogan's Express Lanes plan, his earlier modest upgrades to the highway have proceeded quietly. Now the signals and necessary electronics for another phase of the project - metered on-ramps - have been installed at many interchanges.
MD SHA contractors install a signal box
for a metered on-ramp system
The signals will act just as traffic lights do, turning red and stopping traffic entering the highway's southbound lanes from on-ramps. Traffic engineers hope they will be able to smooth out the inflow of cars that must merge with oncoming traffic in the through or local lanes. Sensors will be used, and on-ramps will be widened to two lanes if the lines become too long with a single queue.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
Drivers have already noticed other small changes with large impacts. Some on-ramps now allow you to stay in the lane you came in on (such as the on-ramp from Sam Eig Highway), rather than fighting to merge and slowing traffic, such as the on-ramp from Democracy Boulevard northbound. Surprisingly, Hogan has not trumpeted each completed phase with press conferences. Only vague "New Traffic Pattern" electronic highway signs give any indication when each part of the project is put into use.

The project is still only 48% complete. It is scheduled to be finished next summer, so we won't know the full impact - if any - before then.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Virginia studying another Metro extension - why isn't Montgomery County?

The Silver Line isn't even finished yet, and booming Northern Virginia is already looking at another ambitious subway extension to Prince William County. Meanwhile, Montgomery County elected officials are looking at a ten-day February vacation, and even sleepier, moribund economic times ahead. What they should be studying are Metro extensions to the Upcounty and East County, studies that should have begun over a decade ago.

Clarksburg is about 12 miles from the Shady Grove Metro station. Burtonsville is around 10 miles from the Silver Spring Metro station. Virginia's $2 million Blue Line study is examining a 15-mile extension to Prince William via Fort Belvoir, Lorton, Potomac Mills and Quantico, modestly bigger than either potential Montgomery County extension.

Rail transit is far more advantageous for economic development than bus rapid transit. Unlike BRT, companies and developers can be assured the new transit isn't going to be suddenly cut off or rerouted. Ridership of rail would be far higher than that of buses or BRT (the County's future "Flash" B"Rapid"T will take a sluggish 87 minutes to travel from Clarksburg to Bethesda - longer than a car in traffic!).

In contrast, Montgomery County couldn't even get the Corridor Cities Transitway bus line built. Instead of high-speed rail technology fomenting a modern economic hub of the future, Montgomery's "Science City" ended up as Sleepy City. Just more stack-and-pack residential development, and thousands more cars vying for space on over-capacity I-270 and MD 355 every rush hour. Promised anchor biotech tenant Johns Hopkins Medicine just exited stage left as a result.

Meanwhile, what jobs we had in the 270 corridor continued to migrate to Northern Virginia and Frederick County. Montgomery County was at rock bottom in the D.C. region for job growth over the last decade. What we need are boardrooms, not more bedrooms.

There are also large properties planned for redevelopment north of Shady Grove, such as Lakeforest Mall, COMSAT and the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. These developments will not be "smart growth" without a Metro extension, or other rail service, and will not have the job component we need to also reduce the number and length of car trips in the corridor. The same goes for White Oak and Burtonsville.

A coordinated plan to address our moribund economy and failing, incomplete transportation system is needed. No such plan has come out of our current County Council.

Here's what we should be prioritizing today:

  • Study extending the Red Line to Clarksburg, including options for at-grade, elevated and cut-and-cover underground segments
  • Metro should connect to Lakeforest and COMSAT
  • Study of Metro extension from Silver Spring Metro to Burtonsville
  • Addition of third track to MARC Brunswick Line
  • Making Ride On bus service free
  • More business-friendly tax policy and regulations
  • More competitive state tax policies
  • Fully privatizing the County liquor monopoly, and allowing beer and wine sales at all grocery, drug and convenience stores
  • Coordinate timing of new business policies with zoning/sector plan updates that incentivize and favor commercial/corporate development (a.k.a. high-wage jobs) over residential housing
  • Planning and construction of long-delayed Midcounty Highway Extended (M-83 Highway Master Plan Alignment), with potential use for median/cut-and-cover simultaneous construction of rail line from Shady Grove Metro on relevant segments
  • Construction of equally-long-delayed new Potomac River crossing to Dulles Airport with trackbed for future Red Line extension to Silver Line in median, as a toll facility built by a private company
  • A concerted, focused effort on attracting aerospace, defense and tech corporate headquarters, and related research and manufacturing facilities (i.e. satellite and rocket assembly)
The Montgomery County Council isn't doing any of this. In fact, they're in the middle of a 10-day vacation. In February. 
Working hard, or hardly working?
In contrast, the Council-equivalents of our biggest competitors - Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties - are all meeting this week. It would be interesting if all local media - print, online, TV, radio - would join me in exposing the lazy work schedule of our self-proclaimed "full-time" slacker County Council.

Anyone who thinks we can dig ourselves out of this economic hole with a small-ball agenda by running empty BRT buses up and down, giving government contracts to small businesses, believing residential housing that generates more costs than revenue is the definition of "economic development," and patting ourselves on the back by adding the same STEM components to our schools that all of our competitors' school systems are also adding - or that it can be done under the leadership of our current County Council - is fooling themselves. 

Virginia has plenty of housing. But they also have plenty of jobs. Plenty of revenue, as a result. And they are making the big ticket investments to keep cleaning our clock for decades to come. Meanwhile, we're scaring every company away, have a structural budget deficit as far out as the projections go, are paying record high taxes, have massive debt, and steadily declining revenue even with a 9% tax hike several years ago. 

We can't go on like this.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

MD, VA agree on Capital Beltway Accord, American Legion Bridge widening

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a historic Capital Beltway Accord at a joint appearance at the Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, D.C. yesterday. The bi-state agreement, which does not yet specify a timetable for completion, would widen the failing American Legion Bridge between the two states by adding tolled Express Lanes on and near the bridge. The states would split the cost, with the heaviest burden being picked up by Maryland, and both states expecting tolls will cover the entire $1 billion projected expense.

The accord also puts the backburnered Hogan plan for Express Lanes on the Beltway between the Legion Bridge and I-95 back on the table. No details on the staging of the that project in relation to the bridge widening were put forward Tuesday. The bridge changes would almost certainly fail to solve congestion if the new Express Lanes end at River Road instead of I-95, as they would only create another choke point there.

Adding Express Lanes to the Beltway and I-270 won't take the place of a new Potomac River crossing, which would take about 25% of rush hour traffic off of the Legion Bridge, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments study earlier this decade. They won't provide the direct access to Dulles International Airport from Montgomery County that international businesspeople have made clear they require to consider locating their headquarters here.

In fact, without a new Potomac River bridge north of the Legion Bridge - and major changes to County and Maryland tax and regulation schemes, Tuesday's accord would simply be another victory for Virginia and the crafty Northam from an economic development standpoint. Improved travel times for non-Dulles-related traffic on the Beltway would certainly help all of us, and are absolutely worthy of public support. But without direct Dulles access and a competitive business climate, the Beltway accord will simply reinforce our position as the bedroom community for the booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

The accord is a win for Hogan, however, as he considers a surprisingly-strong bid for the U.S. Senate. If he stands his ground on the Potomac-to-I-95 Beltway Express Lanes this time, Hogan will have delivered a start on major traffic relief on both failing interstates in Montgomery County in time for the 2022 election. Hogan was also the governor to finally get the new Nice Bridge project moving after decades of delay; that structure is scheduled to be well under-construction by the time he would take on Van Hollen.

Hogan hasn't even been grandstanding to the extent he could on transportation. He has quietly delivered new improvements on I-270 - such as new feeder lanes that allow entering vehicles from some ramps to proceed on the freeway without having to merge - over the last year. Surprisingly, he hasn't called a press conference to crow about these small but significant traffic flow upgrades.

Considering Van Hollen's weak legislative record, scandalous history of conspiring to reduce African-American turnout in his 2016 primary run against Congresswoman Donna Edwards (earning a rebuke from Hillary Clinton herself in the process), and Hogan's bipartisan support, this could be a top-tier contest. Neither man excites the core base of his party. But if these transportation projects move forward, Hogan will have done something Van Hollen hasn't in over a decade - deliver actual change for his constituents.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

State collecting soil samples in Rockville for Hogan's I-270 Express Lanes plan

Maryland is collecting preliminary soil samples near I-270 in Rockville, alarming some on the City Council who feel that Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes plan for the severely-congested interstate is moving forward too quickly. Montgomery politicians have tended to favor either a transit-only solution for the corridor, or a pair of reversible lanes in the center of the highway. Hogan's plan would widen 270, and add tolled Express Lanes at little cost to the taxpayer, as they would be built and operated by a private firm.

"They're actually taking soil samples. They're trying something. They're looking for information. This tells me they're not just looking at reversable lanes. And so they have something in mind beyond what they said, so that's upsetting," Councilmember Mark Pierzchala told colleagues Monday night.

Pierzchala asked what options the city has to fight Hogan, and what the County Council and other local bodies could do to help the city. Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr said she was told by residents of Regents Square that the development's management had told them to expect state inspectors to be collecting soil samples around the townhomes there. Pierzchala urged city staff to seek partnerships with the City of Gaithersburg and local HOAs along the highway.

Hogan, whose popularity has reached the highest numbers recorded by the Washington Post in a quarter century, has picked another winning issue in his Express Lanes plan. To counter him, his opponents are forced to publicly stand in the way of traffic congestion relief, a position unlikely to be popular among angry highway drivers in an election year. Hogan's plan can move forward over the objections of local officials because it requires no funding from County or federal sources.

Friday, July 25, 2014


I-270 is located behind this
barrier at the
Woodley Gardens Shopping
Center in Rockville
A Montgomery County judge ordered the Maryland State Highway Administration to terminate a planned sound barrier project along I-270 in Rockville last week.

The Daily Record reports that the judge determined the state violated the property rights of the Woodley Gardens Shopping Center on Nelson Street. Soil sampling and jackhammering of asphalt on shopping center property were determined as not permissible under Maryland's eminent domain law.

Daily Record reporter Danny Jacobs writes that the SHA has not yet determined if it will appeal the ruling. Now imagine what might happen should the county and state decide to widen 270!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A snowblower machine clearing I-270 in the Rockville area inadvertently damaged some nearby residents' windows in the process. At least 5 residences at Regents Square on Azalea Drive were hit by debris. The Maryland State Highway Administration is determining what went wrong, but there is no public indication yet as to who will ultimately be responsible for compensating the residents and the condo board for repairs.