News Briefs

Governor Hogan attempts to expand 270 and 495 amidst backlash

A plan to expand Interstates 270 and 495 in Maryland is facing backlash after a study suggests expanding the highways through eminent domain, the legal process where a state government can take private property and redevelop it for a public purpose. According to News4 DC, Maryland is evaluating sevens plans to reduce traffic on these two highways, with most plans suggesting the addition of toll lanes. The state claims this would reduce the amount of time that commuters spend in traffic by at least 20 percent. According to News4 DC, a study proposes that Maryland should acquire up to 34 homes in Silver Spring through eminent domain. Residents near the beltway told News4 DC that the plan is unfair, adding that it would also break Governor Larry Hogan’s promise to not use eminent domain.

Two Maryland bridges are going cash free, only accepting E-Z Pass

Drivers on two major Maryland bridges, the Francis Scott Key and Thomas J. Hatem Memorial bridges, will not be able to pay with cash and coins anymore as the bridges are going cashless. According to News4 DC and WTOP, transportation officials announced that the plan to eliminate cash tolls on the Francis Scott Key and Thomas J. Hatem Memorial bridges is beginning in October. Drivers will either pay by E-Z Pass or by “video tolling.” News4 reports that video tolling is when a photo of a car’s license plate is taken and officials send a bill to the owner’s address. Pete Rahn, chairman of the Maryland Department of Transportation, told News4 DC that moving to cashless tolls will decrease congestion. He told News4 that 80 percent of Francis Scott Key drivers and 93 percent of Hatem Bridge drivers already pass through with E-Z Pass. WTOP reports that the tolls will be torn down over the next two years.

Former Maryland House Speaker passes away at 72

Visitors were able to pay former Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch their finals respects in the rotunda of the Maryland State House. News4 DC reports that Busch passed away at the age of 72 on Apr. 7 after a battle with pneumonia. He will be remembered as a champion of the Chesapeake Bay and education. He was a Democrat who was first elected to the state House in 1986, became speaker in 2003 and was the longest-serving house speaker in the state’s history. News4 reports Governor Larry Hogan expressed his condolences. “He was a mentor, a coach, a friend, and each and every one of us benefited from his wise counsel and his steady leadership. Mike Busch truly became an institution within the institution of state government, and his name will long be synonymous with service in Maryland,” Hogan said, according to News4.

-Joaquin Moreno, staff writer