I-270/I-495 toll rates in Maryland will be slightly cheaper
November 23, 2021
Motorists now know how much it could cost to drive near the nation’s capital once Interstate 270 and Capital Beltway HOT lanes are in place in Maryland.
After receiving numerous complaints about the original high occupancy toll rate proposal, members of the Maryland Transportation Authority are agreeing to lower Capital Beltway HOT lane rates. However, only the minimum rates are lower by about 15%. Soft cap and maximum rates remain the same as before.
Once Capital Beltway HOT lanes are up and running, five-axle trucks with an E-ZPass will pay $1.02 per mile, down from $1.21. Driving the full 12-mile length of the Capital Beltway can cost as much as $271 with a $21.58 maximum rate. That is cheapest rates for E-ZPass users. Truckers paying by unregistered video tolling will pay at least $1.53 per mile. The full drive at the maximum rate of $33.86 per mile will cost more than $400.
For passenger vehicles, E-ZPass users will pay a minimum of 17 cents per mile and a maximum of $3.76. High occupancy tolls for passenger vehicles without an E-ZPass can be as high a $5.64 per mile.
All motorists will be able to drive the Capital Beltway and I-270 for free. Additional HOT lanes will pay for Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to widen I-270. Existing lanes will remain free to motorists.
Public opposes Capital Beltway HOT lane rates
However, people are not excited about the cost of the Capital Beltway HOT lanes. During the second wave of public comments, three-quarters of the responses opposed the initially proposed rates and the annual increases.
For the most part, nearby motorists feel the Capital Beltway HOT lanes will cost too much. At least one commenter said the rates will put a barrier between low-income earners and the rest.
“Toll rates only benefit those who have money to afford them,” one unnamed commenter wrote. “Thus, the lower working class will be affected and taxed the most.”
Similar comments were made about annual increases.
“There is no reason for toll rates to increase when the minimum wage does not increase annually,” another commenter wrote. “Again, this toll system is only to benefit the rich class of the community.”
Many more commenters opposed tolls in general, calling them “regressive” and the process “a farce.” One person recommended a flat rate of 50 cents for everyone. Another commenter suggests charging on a “vehicle cost/value” basis – i.e., the more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive the toll.
Public perception was more favorable a few years ago. In May 2019, a Washington Post-Schar School poll revealed that more than 60% of those surveyed supported the Capital Beltway HOT lanes.
Gov. Hogan first proposed the Capital Beltway project in October 2017. At the time, Hogan’s office said the $9 billion traffic congestion relief plan delivers “on his commitment to provide innovative transportation solutions for Maryland.”
Since then, the project has been a roller-coaster ride. In June, the project was struck down by the regional transportation board. However, the board reversed that decision, putting the Capital Beltway HOT lanes back on the projects schedule. LL