- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday ordered the Maryland Department of Transportation not to further study or include any proposals on the use of high-occupancy toll lanes in the departments overall transportation plan.
State Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari had made plans to test the idea of HOT lanes on a 7.5-mile stretch of Route 50 between the Capital Beltway and U.S. 301. The tests, if followed through, would have been the first in the Washington region and were to have begun in 2003.
Under the plan, drivers on the HOT lanes would pay from $20 to $40 a week for a plastic transponder that would allow their cars to be monitored for tolls and eliminate the need for toll booths.
"It is unfair to link an easier commute with a persons ability to pay," Mr. Glendening said. "Our goal is to ease congestion for all."
The HOT lanes are seen by some to be an effective way of easing traffic congestion by requiring drivers to pay a fee for the right to use the lanes, which are sectioned off from other parts of a roadway.
The department had been doing studies of HOT lanes, with many of the requests for them coming from localities like Montgomery County, but the Democratic governor put a stop to the studies after MDOT began planning to include the HOT lanes in its long-range transportation blueprint.
"He has always, always been against the HOT lanes, but he allowed MDOT to review the concept internally," Glendening spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said. "He agreed to look at the idea, but not to go ahead with implementation."
On the other side of the Potomac River, Virginias Department of Transportation also looked at using HOT lanes on Route 28 near Washington Dulles International Airport, but nixed the idea last month. The lanes, called "Lexus Lanes," are popular in such jurisdictions as California and Houston.
Lon Anderson, a spokesman for the Mid-Atlantic region of AAA, applauded Mr. Glendenings move.
"HOT lanes would have created inequity," he said. "You would be creating a situation where the rich would roll and the poor would poke."
He said already Maryland residents pay the 12th-highest gas tax in the country and the HOT lanes would have created "a two-tier class system on the highways."

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