COUNCIL LETTER TO MDOT OFFICIALS ADDRESSES IMPACT OF MANAGED LANES P3 PROJECT ON WSSC WATER INFRASTRUCTURE AND RATEPAYERS
Council Expresses Opposition to Water and Sewer Increases Resulting from Managed Lanes P3 Project
The Prince George’s County Council has unanimously supported a Proposed Letter to Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Gregory Slater, regarding the potential impact of the I-495 and I270 Managed Lanes P3 Project on Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC Water) infrastructure and customers.
The letter states, in part, “This Council strongly believes that our residents should not be responsible for the cost of these private toll lanes in any way, specifically if WSSC Water ratepayers will face significant increases to their water and sewer bills to cover all costs (construction, design and administrative) associated with infrastructure relocation. If MDOT proceeds with the project and WSSC Water remains responsible for any associated relocation costs of its water and/or sewer infrastructure, the Prince George’s County Council, as I assume the Montgomery Council, will not entertain any WSSC Water Capital Improvements Program that includes such costs and associated rate increases.”
With Council action on Tuesday May 5th, authorizing the Chair’s signature on the letter to MDOT, the Prince George’s County Council joins with the Montgomery County Council in submitting letters to MDOT on this important issue to WSSC Water ratepayers in both jurisdictions.
During a joint briefing in March, the Prince George’s County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (TIEE) committee, and the Montgomery County Council Transportation and Environment committee, received a presentation from WSSC Water staff, offering a scenario where the widening of I-495 and I-270 could require spending up to $2 billion to relocate water and/or sewer infrastructure. Additionally, WSSC Water staff detailed the potential impacts to its network, the most impactful being WSSC Water’s contention that the associated cost to relocate water and/or sewer infrastructure will be borne by ratepayers in the two counties under the current agreement with MDOT.
Council Chair Todd M. Turner (D – District 4), said the protection of County ratepayers is a priority for the Council as the P3 Managed Lanes Project moves forward.
“It is important for the Council to relay that we are opposed to any water and sewer increases resulting from the Managed Lanes P3 Project. We are pleased that Secretary Slater is forming a joint working group to address the concerns of both councils, and we look forward to reviewing their findings.”
Montgomery County Council Vice President Tom Hucker said, “As a longtime proponent for greater accountability from MDOT and their P3 proposal, I was shocked to learn that WSSC ratepayers could be forced to pay for elements of this already costly highway widening through their water bills.”
Prince George’s County Council Members Deni Taveras (D – District 2), and Dannielle Glaros (D – District 3), Chair and Vice Chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (TIEE) committee respectively, also stressed the importance of protecting the financial interests of County residents and WSSC Water ratepayers.
“The reality is that WSSC has already been having problems with the Purple Line construction where they feel certain assets are unprotected,” said Council Member Taveras. “I think this letter is important to avoid a repeat of what is happening with the Purple Line construction.”
“Given the challenges we are seeing with the Purple Line Project, I can’t emphasize enough how important I think this letter is to protect our taxpayers and ratepayers in Prince George’s County,” said Council Member Glaros.
The I-495 & I-270 P3 Program, which has raised widespread concern, is an initiative by Governor Larry Hogan intended to reduce congestion for Maryland drivers by seeking input from the private sector to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain improvements on sections of both I-495 and I-270.