GREENBELT – Governor Larry Hogan “shocked” Prince George’s County officials when he announced that the county will need to contribute $50 million for upgrades at the highway interchange by the Greenbelt Metro station to ensure the FBI relocates here. At the same press conference where Hogan announced he will fund the Purple Line with greater […]
GREENBELT – Governor Larry Hogan “shocked” Prince George’s County officials when he announced that the county will need to contribute $50 million for upgrades at the highway interchange by the Greenbelt Metro station to ensure the FBI relocates here.
At the same press conference where Hogan announced he will fund the Purple Line with greater costs shifted to Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, he also announced Prince George’s will need to contribute $50 million out of a total $185 million funding for a project to upgrade the partial interchange on I-95/495 at the Greenbelt Metro station to a full interchange on
“They have to finish the interchange over there by Greenbelt to allow traffic in all directions. Right now you can only get into Greenbelt coming from Montgomery County from the Beltway,” said David Iannucci, a senior economic development advisor to County Executive Rushern Baker III. “Prince George’s County’s position is that this (contribution) is a state responsibility. There’s been no discussion (by the governor) with Prince George’s County about that being county responsibility.”
“We anticipate many conversations with our state partners on the FBI and are confident that the reference to $50 million from the county for interstate highway ramps at Greenbelt is a matter of the State not being fully aware of the County’s current commitment to infrastructure costs in support of the FBI,” Baker said.
The governor strongly supports the FBI coming to Prince George’s County, Iannucci said, and the county is “assuming” that these discussions will not interfere with discussions about the FBI coming to Prince George’s County because of his support.
The $50 million requirement from the governor “can’t be acceptable,” Iannucci said, because there had been no prior discussions from the governor’s office.
The county has been working closely with the state to address infrastructural improvements with the road ways to support the FBI’s relocation to Greenbelt, he said, but they were still surprised when the governor made his announcement.
“There have never been discussions about this from the county because the county has other very significant responsibilities to support the FBI,” Iannucci said.
Prince George’s County is working in pursuit of the “once in a generation opportunity” to bring the FBI headquarters to Prince George’s County. Last year the federal General Services Administration announced Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield, Virginia as finalists for the relocation.
The county is already being asked to commit significantly to infrastructure costs to support the FBI campus at either Greenbelt or Landover, said Baker, and the county has no intention of letting up on those efforts.
Despite Hogan’s announcement regarding the need for interchange improvements, Garth Beall, a project manager at Renard Development Company, which is overseeing the FBI project in Greenbelt, said he is not worried about the effect that money will have on bringing the FBI to Greenbelt should the county choose to contribute.
“The total for the $185 million comes to basically $100 million for the interchange and the remainder is for other improvements on the Beltway. I know the county is very committed on this project, and I know they’ve got some constraints budget wise, so I don’t know how that shakes out,” Beall said. “There were some discussions about whether or not they just move forward with just the interchange and just save the Beltway improvements until later. But they need to be made, though.”
The changes that need to be made to the interchange are “significant”, Beall said. For example, he said, the bridge over Rhode Island Ave. needs to be replaced as well as the bridge going over Route 193. Then, he said, more minor changes need to be made to add a lane to the Beltway from Route 1 to 295.
“What is needed for the FBI is fully funded inside of what the state has committed to fund,” Beall said.
Greenbelt City Manager Mike McLaughlin said the city has not been made aware of any contributions they may have to make to help the county.
“Things will need to be sorted out,” McLaughlin said. “The City has not been contacted or informed about the $50 million requirement prior to the news reports. With the decision on the Purple Line and the need to find additional funds there, these items will need some time to sort out.”
McLaughlin said he does not know how much the city would be willing, if necessary, to commit to the project.
“I cannot answer that at this time,” he said.
Along with the $50 million contribution to the Greenbelt I-95/495 interchange, Hogan has also asked for an increased county contribution for the Purple Line project. Because the state is taking cost saving measures, Hogan said, the county contribution will have to be more.
The total cost of the Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail project from Bethesda to New Carrollton, would have been $2.45 billion. The cost-saving measures—including train minutes instead of six minutes between trains—will bring the state contribution down from almost $700 million to $168 million, Hogan said.
“Public transportation is important, but it is vital that we invest hard-earned taxpayer dollars into those projects that will help the greatest number of our citizens in our state. We’re not opposed to mass transit, but we do oppose wasteful and irresponsible spending on poorly conceived projects that waste taxpayers’ money,” Hogan said.
The county remains committed to working with the state and Montgomery County to ensure the Purple Line becomes a reality.
“We remain strongly supportive of the Purple Line, and will work with Montgomery County and the State, but believe we have already made an extraordinary commitment to fund that project. Discussions will continue,” Baker said.