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Maryland Eyes Innovative Fix for I-270 Congestion

Mon July 08, 2019 - Northeast Edition #14
Brenda Ruggiero – CEG Correspondent


Currently, the I-270 corridor reportedly carries a range of 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles each day. By 2030, daily volumes are projected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles.
Currently, the I-270 corridor reportedly carries a range of 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles each day. By 2030, daily volumes are projected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles.
Currently, the I-270 corridor reportedly carries a range of 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles each day. By 2030, daily volumes are projected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles. The total cost of the multi-lane freeway project is expected to be $111.8 million. MDOT SHA is well into an Innovative Congestion Management (ICM) project in Montgomery County that is designed to reduce congestion on I-270 through innovative technologies and techniques. The ICM work is made up of 14 roadway improvements — including extending merge lanes and adding local and continuous flow lanes — that will eliminate bottlenecks. Work was back in progress this spring following a winter hiatus and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020. In 2016, Gov. Hogan provided $100 million in new funding for the I-270 Innovative Congestion Management Project to improve travel times throughout the 34.4-mi. I-270 corridor.

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is well into an Innovative Congestion Management (ICM) project in Montgomery County that is designed to reduce congestion on I-270 (Eisenhower Highway) through innovative technologies and techniques.

The total cost of the multi-lane freeway project is expected to be $111.8 million. Work was back in progress this spring following a winter hiatus and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020.

As of late May, the work was reported as 33 percent complete. Intermittent lane closures are scheduled on I-270 (Eisenhower Highway) southbound at MD 109 (Old Hundred Road) and I-270 northbound from Democracy Boulevard to Montrose Avenue.

The prime contractor is Concrete General of Gaithersburg, Md. Notice to proceed for the final design was given in the spring of 2017, and construction began in the fall of 2017.

According to Shanteé Felix, assistant media relations manager, Office of Communications, MDOT SHA, the ICM work is made up of 14 roadway improvements — including extending merge lanes and adding local and continuous flow lanes — that will eliminate bottlenecks.

"Some of the technology being used includes ramp metering, a proven concept that uses ramp meters to manage merging traffic from ramps to the mainline; and an automated traffic flow management system that combines real-time communication to drivers, traffic monitoring with cameras and sensors and intelligent signal systems," Felix said.

She noted that the I-270 project proposes a two-pronged approach of roadway improvements and innovative technologies and techniques to maximize vehicular throughput, minimize vehicle travel times, and create a more predictable commuter trip along I-270 between I-70 and I-495.

"While the components address both recurring and nonrecurring congestion, the roadway improvements focus on relieving today's recurring congestion, and the innovative technologies and techniques focus on managing today's recurring and non-recurring congestion and extending the lifespan of the roadway improvements into the future," Felix said.

According to the project website, the 14 roadway improvements will reportedly increase capacity and vehicle throughput and address safety deficiencies by strategically eliminating existing bottlenecks, the key element limiting vehicular throughput along the corridor, coupled with the impact of crashes and other incidents.

MDOT SHA reports that the traffic management system will help reduce congestion by improving traffic flow and safety. An automated smart traffic flow management system will combine real-time communication to drivers, traffic monitoring with cameras and sensors, and intelligent signal systems to optimize traffic flow and reduce crashes along I-270.

"One of the main challenges on the I-270 project is that it is one of the busiest highways in Maryland," said Andre Futrell, MDOT SHA District engineer. "In some places, the average daily traffic volume is more than a quarter of a million motorists each day, so we certainly appreciate motorist's patience during the project."

The project was announced on April 19, 2017, by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, stating that it would save drivers up to 30 minutes on their morning commute southbound from Frederick to I-495.

The design-build team includes 16 firms, selected through a competitive bidding.

"We are committed to finding the best ideas that offer real solutions, and I am excited to see innovation in action when it comes to solving the problems of congestion here on I-270," Gov. Hogan said. "Moving forward on critical priority infrastructure is important to Montgomery County, to all of our local jurisdictions, and to economic development statewide, and we are very pleased to be able to announce that all of these important projects are being started."

According to MDOT SHA, the project will break 14 bottlenecks and add 23 new lane miles; more than 25 real-time traffic communication signs; and more than 30 intelligent signals that will work together to deliver dynamic traffic management along the entire I-270 corridor.

Currently, the I-270 corridor reportedly carries a range of 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles each day. By 2030, daily volumes are projected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles.

In 2016, Gov. Hogan provided $100 million in new funding for the I-270 Innovative Congestion Management Project to improve travel times throughout the 34.4-mi. I-270 corridor.

For this project, the MDOT SHA reported that it used an innovative procurement method never used before by a state transportation department. This involved using a fixed price of $100 million and performance criteria of moving the most vehicles farthest and fastest. This approach allowed the private sector to develop out-of-the-box solutions. The automated smart traffic system uses infrastructure, technology and information to deliver the time savings.

"We're trailblazing a new way of doing business that will be a model for projects across Maryland and for transportation projects all across the nation," said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

"We are proud to offer this advanced solution that will provide substantial time savings to all who drive the I-270 corridor," said MDOT SHA administrator Gregory Slater. "The design-build team, comprised of many Maryland firms, proposed a set of solutions that moves the most vehicles, the fastest and the farthest."

Besides Concrete General, the design-build team includes Rummel, Klepper & Kahl (RK&K) (lead design firm), Baltimore; Bruce & Merrilees Electric Co., Abingdon, Md.; CH2M Hill Inc., Baltimore.; Stokes Creative Group Inc., Baltimore; T3 Design Corporation, Fairfax, Va.; Floura Teeter Landscape Architects Inc., Baltimore.; Axis Geospatial LLC, Easton, Md.; Precision Measurements Inc., Woodstock, Md.; Edwards Utility Mapping Corporation, Fredericksburg, Va.; E2CR, Inc., Baltimore; Airport Design Consultants Inc., Ellicott City, Md; ECO Integration Inc., Columbia, Md.; Athavale, Lystad & Associates Inc., Bethesda, Md.; iDesign Engineering Inc., Silver Spring, Md; and O.R. George Associates Inc., Lanham, Md.

Felix reported that equipment used on the project includes graders, Bobcats, excavators, loaders, a log skidder, cranes, pavers, rollers, pile drivers, generators, jackhammers and air compressors. CEG