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WSSC Line Relocation Cost in Beltway Expansion Project may Hike Water Bills

Beltway Near College Park

On March 12th, WSSC briefed the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee of the Prince George’s County Council and the Transportation & Environment Committee of the Montgomery County Council regarding the potential infrastructure cost to WSSC from the beltway widening project.

Based on MDOT’s SHA Alternative 10 (the option SHA has identified with the greatest limit of disturbance), WSSC estimates infrastructure costs ranging from $1.3 billion (100 percent open-cut construction) to $2.0 billion (100 percent drilling and tunneling) not including overhead costs.

It is unclear how these costs will be shared between WSSC, SHA, and a third-party under a P3 program.

At the March 12 joint briefing, WSSC stated that ratepayers will be liable for these costs.

A 1958 memorandum of understanding between WSSC and the then-Maryland State Roads Commission states that WSSC is responsible for the cost of any water infrastructure relocation required by modifying or widening a state road. This MOU remains in effect.

When Governor Hogan announced the proposed I-495 and I -270 Managed Lanes Program nearly three years ago, he promised that the P3 project could be constructed at no cost to taxpayers, and he has repeated that promise numerous times. The private concessionaire, he said, would bear the costs and risks of constructing the new lanes, paying down those costs over time through toll collections.

The P3 proposal does not detail the costs of relocating affected utility infrastructure.

MDOT has conducted rudimentary cost estimates of utility relocations that greatly underestimate WSSC’s projections.

It remains unclear whether WSSC relocation costs will be borne by ratepayers or the P3 concessionaire.

The prospect that WSSC ratepayers could face significant increases in our water bills to cover these P3-associated costs is unacceptable. We should not be responsible for the cost of these private toll lanes in any way.

If MDOT proceeds with the project and WSSC remains responsible for any associated relocation costs of its water infrastructure, the Prince George’s County council should refuse to fund any WSSC Capital Improvements Program that includes such costs and associated rate increases.


Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

Last Wednesday, State’s Board of Public Works (BPW) voted in favor of expanding Beltway at the American Legion Bridge and the part of the beltway up to I 270, and part of I-270 to I-370. This happened after Gov Hogan got a Key vote from Comptroller Franchot, who expressed concerns earlier about the $11 billion project to expand the entire beltway in Maryland.

According to Comptroller Franchot’s Facebook post (please see below) the rest of the beltway could be expanded later by the Board of Public Works.

For College Park and the surrounding community where Beltway was planned to be expanded, this news may bring some relief to the local residents and community members. In College Park, the expansion proposal would have impacted many Homes, causing losses of many trees and parkland, increased Pollution and noise. Additionally, with an extra 4 lanes, the traffic into Route 1 will increase.

At this time We don’t know when BPW will take that up and if the PG County portion of Beltway will be expanded first before the Montgomery part, where the opposition is a lot stronger.

Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

House Legislation
The Maryland State House tried to pass several legislative reforms during the last General Assembly session. Unfortunately, all of them either died in the committees or weren’t voted on.
The bills that the House considered include: (1) the MDOT would require a Montgomery county’s consent before starting road widening on any highway. (2) n environmental impact study is completed before soliciting for construction contracts. (3) A bill would prohibit the Department of Public Works from approving a Public-Private_partnership (P3) until an independent rating assessment survey–to be completed.

Transparency of Data:
MDOT has developed a Traffic and Revenue Model that calculates the predicted traffic volumes, toll charges, and profit or loss of each potential toll lane segment in each scenario. MDOT also has assembled origin-destination data for trips in the two highway corridors

Toll Revenue: The revised agreement also says that 10% of the toll revenues will go toward transit improvement in the state before the total cost of the project is paid off. MoCo County Executive Elrich already said that the hope is that Montgomery will be able to use new state aid to do a rapid bus project transit on MD 355. We don’t know what is the Prince George’s County has a similar plan to implement a more transit-oriented solution.

Transportation plan
We should continue to advocate for smarter and more sustainable ways to address the congestion problem in the beltway.
There are local and regional transportation plans out there that can be used for this purpose. The MNCPPC has recently published a report on the North County transportation studies, called “Transportation Guide for Urban Communities” recommending some alternatives in College Park and Prince George’s County. The recommendations include Leverage transit
Complete the bicycle network, Supply, and managed parking. Additionally, Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition also recommends more transit-oriented solutions, such as more frequent MARC train service.Recently, the Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich office has been in talk of potential state-county agreements on alternatives to the current MDOT plan. Similar engagement is necessary from the Prince George’s County’s leadership.

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Beltway Expansion, Census, City Budget and More..

NCPCA – Your neighborhood association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and thus the day we’ll be having our monthly NCPCA meeting.

Today’s meeting will start with an update on Beltway Expansion. The State Board of Public Works has approved a plan to expand the Beltway starting (and including) American Legion bridge up to I-270 , plus the I-270 up to I-370. They may decide to expand the rest of the beltway at a later time. It’s important to stay engaged and advocate for more smart transportation alternatives including rapid bus service and transit options.

The group will get an update on the Hollywood Streetscape and Gateway Park projects.

Councilmember Denise Mitchell will make a presentation on the 2020 Census.

Members will then review the 2020FY budget wish list and what was accomplished. They will also discuss a proposal of items for the 2021FY budget wish list

As always, tonight’s NCPCA meeting will take place at Davis Hall at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you all there.

Crucial Vote on Beltway Expansion Delayed – Rally Still On

According to the Washington Post, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday canceled this week’s meeting of the Board of Public Works amid a growing public feud with state Comptroller Peter Franchot, whose vote he needs on the board for his plan to add toll lanes to the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.

Mr. Franchot made the post bellow on his FaceBook after many residents raised some serious concerns last week about the timing of the vote.

The board was expected to vote as early as Wednesday on the latest changes to Hogan’s proposal. The Republican governor needs the board’s approval before the state may begin soliciting private companies to build the lanes and finance their construction as part of one of the largest public-private partnerships in the country.

However, Franchot (D), who supported the plan in June and is considered the board’s swing vote on the toll lane proposal, said last week that he objected to the latest changes.

The earliest the Board can now take up the changes is on January 8, the same date the new General Assembly session begins in Annapolis. The General Assembly is expected to take up legislation addressing public-private partnerships, such as the P3 tollway proposal.

Also, the December 14 article is the first big Washington Post story on the Maryland P3 proposal that also covers in detail some of Virginia’s botched P3 tollway deals.

The article quotes experts from the state of Virginia and elsewhere about the supreme importance of taking the time upfront to negotiate a deal that will protect taxpayers and public interests as well as address traffic issues.

“If done well, you can get a good project built. If done poorly, you can get a P3 Frankenstein,” John Forrer, director of George Washington University’s Institute for Corporate Responsibility told the Washington Post.

Tomorrow’s rally against the Beltway expansion is still on.

Monday, December 16, at 7 pm. Silver Spring Civic Center

Rally on Beltway Plan – Next Monday

This will probably be the last Chance to Send a Message to the Board of Public Works Before It Votes Again!


Silver Spring Civic Center, Silver Spring, MD 20910

  • Join Councilmember Tom Hucker, Citizens Against Beltway Expansion, Maryland Sierra Club, Audubon Naturalist Society, and neighbors from Maryland and Virginia.
  • Say NO to $30-40 rush-hour tolls (like in Northern Virginia).
  • Demand a better deal for commuter relief with transit, transparency, and taxpayer protection.
  • Tell the Board of Public Works to reject Maryland Dept. of Transportation’s deal-breaking amendments to the $11 billion Toll Lane project.

Tomorrow at NCPCA – Beltway Expansion and Holiday Party

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

Tomorrow is the second Thursday of the month and hence the day when the NCPCA is going to have its monthly meeting.

The meeting will start with an update on Beltway Expansion. Ben Ross, Chair, of the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition will be speaking about the latest on the Beltway expansion plan. Members will also discuss the next steps including attendance at Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, on December 18.

The meeting will end with a Holiday Party. Please bring your favorite dish to the meeting.

Action Alert: New Vote Suddenly Called on Beltway Expansion Plan

Beltway Near College Park

Next week, on December 4,  the state Board of Public Works will vote on a new version of the scheme to expand the I-495 Beltway and I-270.

The new proposal also speeds up the widening of the Beltway between the American Legion Bridge and I-95. Instead of waiting until after I-270, the Beltway toll lanes would be built first, at the same time as I-270 south of I-370. You can see the proposed amendments here (page 61, under AMENDMENT)

For College Park, and other surrounding communities in Prince George’s, this means that the Beltway expansion may happen sooner than it was previously thought. According to an earlier proposal, the Beltway expansion in College Park and east of it was proposed in phase 3, with phase 1 expansion including I-270 and east of I-495 up to the American Legion bridge, and phase 2 including I-495 in Montgomery County (Silver spring neighborhoods). With the new proposal phase, 1 and 2 will be combined together.

In the past, the MDOT has backtracked on its promises in regards to this project including whether any homes or property would be taken; whether a locally presented alternative would be fully analyzed. Expanding the beltway will only relieve traffic for the short term, but will attract sprawl and heavy traffic on local roads like Route 1 in College Park. MDOT should give more time to consider other smart transit alternatives, such as those proposed in Prince George’s North County Transportation studies

In College Park, Beltway Expansion can potentially cause loss of properties & green space, kill a playground, and increase noise & traffic. Please see my blog post here to learn more.

Not only would the state be committed to a highways-first transportation policy for years to come, spending money better spent on expanded transit, but the way the $11 billion dollar contracts for the toll lanes would be handed out is an invitation to favoritism.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot is the crucial swing vote on the 3-member Board of Public Works. Send him an email now at pfranchot@comp.state.md.us and tell him to vote against this new scheme.

Here are some points you can make in your email — feel free to put them in your own words, and add any additional points you want to make.

  • The new procurement scheme can potentially invite the abuse of the state treasury:
  • Everything that matters will happen in secret talks with the bidders.
  • Only one month to write the final proposal for an $11 billion dollar contract.
  • The investment firm that wins the contract gets a free hand to pick the construction companies that actually do the work. The state doesn’t know who’s on the teams when it decides which team is best.
  • This dangerous scheme is being rammed through over the Thanksgiving holidays to avoid public oversight.

The comptroller, as the state’s fiscal watchdog, has a duty to protect Maryland taxpayers against this threat.

Please include your home address in the email — it’s important for Comptroller Franchot to understand that taxpayers all over Maryland are upset with this. Again, please write now to pfranchot@comp.state.md.us 

The College Park City Council is expected to approve a letter to the BPW with its concerns at this Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Beltway May Still Be Expanded in College Park and Prince George’s, But May Not in Montgomery

The MDOT has recently agreed to a proposal to MoCo’s Plan for traffic relief.

According to the announcement, the plan calls for “active traffic management and spot improvements” along the Beltway from Bethesda to Adelphi, using existing right of way.

The new proposal envisions improvements to MARC commuter rail service, a network of bus rapid transit lines, new park-and-ride facilities and “activity center connections” to give commuters new options.

Additionally, the plan proposes the construction of new “managed lanes” — a mix of free and variable toll lanes — on the American Legion Bridge, I-270 from a point north of I-370 south and the connecting portion of I-495.

Unfortunately, new managed lanes also would be constructed on the I-95 median, from the Intercounty Connector (MD-200) to the Beltway and east through Prince George’s County to National Harbor.

The plan also creates new reversible managed lanes between Frederick County and northern Montgomery that would run south in the morning and north at night.

National Transportation Body Asks to Expand 495 Beltway Study Options

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the federal government’s planning agency for the National Capital Region has criticized the current I-495 Beltway expansion plan.

In a report, the agency has asked to expnad options beyond what the MDOT has selected to address the traffic congestion on Beltway.

Earlier MDOT requested the NCPC’s concurrence on the six recommended alternatives for analysis in the EIS. “Concurrence” means that the Commission finds the information available (meaning the six alternatives) to be sufficient to proceed into the EIS analysis, which will be used by NCPC, a cooperating agency, to comply with NEPA obligations for its approval authority under the 1930 Capper-Cramton Act and 1931 Agreement between NCPC, MNCPPC, and Office of the President.

The managed lanes study has identified approximately 20 acres of Capper-Cramton land in Rock Creek, Sligo Creek, and Northwest Branch parks that may be impacted by future Beltway (I-495) expansion. In general, staff finds that among the six alternatives proposed for additional study in the EIS, there are none that appear to meet the purpose and need statement while minimizing/avoiding impacts to Capper Cramton land. Currently, each build alternative includes traffic operation variations with widenings to I-270 and I-495, all of which require use of Capper Cramton land. Therefore, NCPC staff would like MDOT to add one other build alternative to the EIS that may avoid Capper-Cramton parkland adjacent to the Beltway and meet the purpose and need of the study.

The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) has also asked that this alternative be further studied in the EIS. In addition, NCPC staff requests that MDOT meet with MNCPPC and NCPC staff to explain how the major Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) transit projects (i.e. Corridor Cities Transitway, Silver Spring Transit Center, etc. that will be built in the future) were included and analyzed in the modeling of the no-build alternative, which MDOT has concluded does not meet the purpose and need. This is also a request of MNCPPC.

The NCPC’s recommendations include:

(a) Scoping Comments Letter (May 2018): NCPC staff recommended a broader Purpose and Need Statement (P&N) to emphasize multimodal connectivity as a primary study component; study measures to capture project impacts; project consistency with local, State, regional, and federal plans/policies; and noted our Commission’s review authorities. In particular, the letter highlighted NCPC’s approval authority over Capper-Cramton park property development, which would be impacted by future capacity improvements along the northern section of the Beltway.

(b) Park Development Review Authorities Letter (October 2018): In follow-up to our scoping comments, staff noted the Commission’s approval authority over Capper-Crampton parkland and that the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (MNCPPC) would serve as the applicant for any future park development that requires NCPC approval. NCPC and MNCPPC have an agreement (executed by President Truman) that requires Capper Cramton property to be used for park purposes only. Previously, NCPC has supported projects whereby resulting improvements benefited bicycle, transit, and pedestrian accessibility and stormwater management such as the Purple Line. The Commission also reviews development on National Park Service property through the National Capital Planning Act in an advisory capacity.

(c) Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study Screening Review Letter (March 11, 2018): Staff recommended that MDOT broaden the set of alternatives by adding at least one Transit-focused (BRT or LRT) alternative. Staff also reiterated the 1931 agreement regarding Capper Cramton land and reiterated support for alternatives that minimized/avoided impacts to the parkland.

Tonight at NCPCA Meeting – Beltway Expansion, Proteus Bike and More..

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

This evening, at 7:30 pm, please attend the NCPCA meeting at Davis Hall. The SHA / MDOT representatives will be at the meeting to take your questions and concerns about the Beltway expansion plan. The College Park City Council had consistently opposed the expansion plan, because of its concerns on the loss of properties and green space in north College Park, an increase of noise and pollution in the neighborhood and worsening effect of the failing I-495 exit on Route 1. Please see my blog post here to find more about how the expansion plan may affect College Park’s residents.

Please see the full agenda below:

7:30 Call to Order and urgent announcements regarding the conduct of meeting, followed by motion to approve the agenda with any changes this evening.
7:35 Featured Business – Proteus Bicycle. Proteus has relocated to the former Mom’s location in Hollywood Shopping Center on Rhode Island Avenue. Laurie Lemieux will provide an update about new products and services at the new and much larger Proteus location.

7:50 Beltway Widening Impact on Hollywood & Sunnyside. Representatives of MDOT SHA will present the latest information about the proposed beltway widening project. In info presented to NCPCA on May 9, and in later posts by Councilmember Fazlul Kabir at http://www.kabircares.org/?s=beltway , we learned that this project may remove or significantly impact homes, parks and greenspace in North College Park including Odessa Road, Niagara Road, Ontario Road, and in the wooded area between 52nd Place and Al Huda School along Edgewood Road. In total, as many as 45 homes in North College Park may be at risk, and many other residents may be subject to increased noise and pollution.

8:40 Break & Refreshments. Members are always welcome to bring something to share, while all of us enjoy a quick break.

8:50 NCPCA Officer Elections. Members will elect NCPCA President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The nominating committee has identified candidates, and nominations for these offices will also be taken from the floor. Election results will be presented tonight.

9:00 Approval of Minutes & Officers Reports Minutes of our April 11 and May 9 meetings will be approved, and NCPCA Officers will provide reports.

9:05 Announcements. Elected officials, members and guests will make announcements of activities and upcoming events of interest.

9:10 Election Results and Presentation of New NCPCA Officers. Please thank our outgoing officers and welcome our new officers for 2019 – 2020.

9:15 Proposed NCPCA City Hall Referendum. Jordan Schackner moves that NCPCA approve the following resolution “NCPCA wants the City Council to place approval of the $21+ Million spending on a New City Hall to referendum on November 5 so voters can decide if they want to pay for this project “. Discussion and vote will follow. Jordan has developed an online petition that allows residents to sign and submit comments to Council here.

Agenda Times & Topics are subject to change. Draft minutes of the April 11 and May 9, 2019 NCPCA meetings will be distributed at the meeting and may also be posted at http://www.myncpca.org

NCPCA Dues. Dues of $10 must be paid to vote for NCPCA officers. We will collect dues before the meeting. Please arrive a bit early if you have not already paid dues.

Council Discusses Beltway Expansion Plan with the SHA Representatives

Last week, members of the SHA team came before the City Council to answer questions about Governor’s Traffic Relief Plan (expansion plan) on I-495 Beltway and I-270.

Several members of the MDOT / SHA team came to the meeting. They included: Lisa Choplin, the Director of SHA/MDOT’s I-495/I-270 P3 program, Jeff Folden, Deputy Director of the P3 program, Matt Snow from the MDOT / SHA NEPA team working on the traffic analysis, Carol Brookmann, environmental manager of the I495 / I270 managed lane study,  Kathrine Robins of the MDOT / SHA NEPA team working on the noise analysis, NEPA team, Kristi Brad of the MDOT / SHA NEPA team working on the air quality issues, Sean New of MDOT/SHA government relations.

We had got a quite a few questions about the plan, specifically about the loss of properties and green spaces, the effect of the expansion on the noise in the neighborhood, and the effect of the expansion on the traffic on Route 1. Prior to the meeting, we sent a list of detailed questions to the SHA.

You can see our discussion with the SHA representatives here on our City website.

The team explained different parts of the map. The orange line represents the existing right-of-way line, whereas the green line represents the preliminary limit of disturbances.  The blue shaded area within the LOD represents possible stormwater management facilities. The red dash line in the map represents is the 66dB noise contour line, without any noise barrier.

  • Limit of Disturbance (LOD): How certain the LOD will be?
    • According to the team, the area within the LOD is necessary for roadway improvements, for example, to maneuver the construction vehicles around the site during the construction phase. It will also include stormwater management facilities. These are preliminary boundaries, as the team is halfway through the NEPA study. After taking comments for another week, the team will go into the detailed study. The team wants to present the preferred alternatives at the end of the year. The LOD boundary area will be most likely reduced as the team keeps working on the NEPA study. Some of the LOD will be needed for a temporary basis, others could be permanent. Direct access points to the managed lanes will be accommodated within the LOD.
  • Effect of Noise and Noise Barriers:
    • The old noise barriers were constructed in the late ’80s. The new noise barrier may be higher than the existing one and could be further into the neighborhood. Some places, such as near the Route 1 intersection, where there isn’t any noise barrier, could have new noise barriers. The team is now evaluating the possible locations of the noise barrier, and they will be published in the draft EIS at the end of this year.
  • Role of the Public-Private-Partnership (P3) Concessionaire:
    • The developer who will be building the managed lanes (aka tool lanes), will have some flexibility in setting the right footprint. The SHA-MDOT, however, will set the standard and performance measurements based. The SHA-MDOT will have outcome-based requirements that the Concessionaire will have to fulfill.
  • RFP (Request for Proposal) of the Construction Contract
    • The final RFP for the construction contract is expected to be made by mid next year. The detailed specification will be made public when the plan is submitted to the Board of Public Works for final approval.
  • Completion of EIS (Environmental Impact Statement):
    • I asked why the EIS wasn’t completed before the BPW vote was taken, and even the RFP process has started. I said the community was actively involved in the EIS / NEPA process during the proposed FBI development project in Greenbelt. The County Council has also passed a resolution asking the MDOT / SHA to complete the EIS before approving the project. The representative (Jeff Folden)  told us that this is a “fairly common practice” to do EIS before preliminary approval of the projects, citing other projects elsewhere.
  • Proposed Park / Playground in Sunnyside:
    • The proposed park at the end of Odessa Rd is within the LOD (Limit of Disturbance) boundary. We shared our concerns with the SHA representatives, as teh City Council approved already approved funds in its FY 2020 budget. The SHA/MDOT representatives told us they didn’t know about our plan to build a park there. They said they will reconsider to designate that as a LOD. We hope to hear back from them on this very soon.


Park Commission Puts Brake on Hogan’s Beltway Expansion Plan

The 10-member governing body of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) voted 9 to 1 to not concur with the alternatives retained for detailed study (ARDS) proposed by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA). The ARDS is part of the state’s study to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 495 and Interstate 270.

The decision was reached during a June 6 teleconference. M-NCPPC asserts that MDOT SHA’s recommended ARDS narrows the scope of the study so much that reliable conclusions for a complete environmental review cannot not be achieved. Its decision is based on four main reasons:

1) Segmentation and Phasing – Identifying the need and scope of improvements to I-495 is dependent on addressing whether by-pass or through traffic can be diverted to I-270 and drawn off of the constrained area of I-495 between I-270 and I-95. The phasing is an important factor because diverting traffic to use the Intercounty Connector (ICC) requires the I-270 phase to be completed first.

2) Termini – The Study Area in Montgomery County omits I-270 north of I-370 (from Rockville to Frederick), and in Prince George’s County omits I-495 from MD 5 to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The impacts from those omitted areas will result in incomplete conclusions for environmental impact.

3) Transit – Meaningful, local serving transit and transportation demand management must be integral components of the project for any of the alternatives to be studied.

4) Parkland Management – The public value in parkland extends to passive and active impacts – recreation, stormwater management, water quality, etc. It is imperative for the study alternatives to attend and account for the Commission’s parkland acquired either under the Capper-Cramton Act or the agency’s other statutory responsibilities.

About the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study

The I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study was initiated by MDOT SHA as an element of a broader plan to relieve traffic congestion on the busiest routes in the region. The study considers improvements along I-495 (Capital Beltway), as well as along I-270 (Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Highway). The Managed Lanes Study will evaluate a range of alternatives within the specific area of I-495 from the Virginia side of the American Legion Bridge in Fairfax County to Exit 7 on the Maryland side of I-495/I-95 and on I-270 from I-495 to I-370.

A notice of intent to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Managed Lanes Study area was issued by the Federal Highway Administration on March 16, 2018, and under Executive Order the agency is tasked with reaching permit stage in two years.

MDOT SHA proposes that the purpose of the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study is to develop a travel demand management solution that addresses congestion, improve trip reliability on I-495 and I-270 within the study limits and enhance existing and planned multimodal mobility and connectivity. MDOT SHA has expressed its intent is to utilize a public-private partnership (P3) in order to design, construct, operate and maintain any proposed infrastructure improvements.

Managed lanes consist of a highway facility or set of lanes where operating strategies are used to control the number of vehicles using the lanes at any given time. Any selected build alternative is likely to have significant impacts on parkland and the associated facilities, programs and natural and cultural resources in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties as well as on communities in those counties.

Learn more about the MDOT SHA Managed Lanes Study.

The Commission’s project coordinators are Carol Rubin for Montgomery County and Debra Borden for Prince George’s County.

Hogan Delays Beltway Expansion Project

The 3-members Board of Public Works voted 2-1 (Treasurer Kopp against) to approve Gov. Hogan’s Traffic Relief Plan as eligible for a private-public partnership (“P3”), allowing the Hogan administration to move forward with soliciting and evaluating private investment for congestion relief on I-495 and I-270.
You can watch the vote here starting around 2:50:00.

Though the P3 plan has moved forward, the details/amendments by Governor and Comptroller Peter Franchot of the vote can give residents some hope that the construction in College Park will be delayed considerably, if it happens.

Phased Plan: The construction will not happen at once. It will happen in 3 phases.
Phase 1: All of I-270 (from I-495 to I-70)
Phase 2: I-495 (from GW Parkway to I-95) – Montgomery County portion of I-495
Phase 3: I-495 (from I-95 to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge) – Prince George’s County portion of I-495

Because the Beltway expansion in College Park is postponed to Phase III, which gives us much more time to resist it.

Previously, the Governor proposed As originally the 3 phases in different way:
Phase 1: I-495 from George Washington Parkway in Virginia, across the American Legion Bridge and up to the I-95 North interchange;
Phase 2: I-270 from I-495 to I-370, as well as I-495 from I-95 to MD Route 5; and
Phase 3: I-270 from I-370 to I-70, as well as I-495 from MD Route 5 to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge

Board to Vote on Each Phase. Each phase of the project will come before the Board of Public Works for separate votes, along with a completed environmental review for that phase. Today’s designation of the project as a whole allows MDOT and the Maryland Transportation Authority to seek and evaluate the qualifications of private investors for the first of the program’s five construction contracts, as well as gather input on potential innovative solutions to deliver congestion relief.

Investment to Transit: 10% of toll revenue will be required to be dedicated to expanding transit projects in our county;

Mass transit Bus access through the managed lane (with no toll)

Property Acquisition: No acquisition of properties to take place before the final p3 agreement without Board approval

Financial Analysis: The Board agreed to another Franchot amendment requiring fiscal analysis to protect taxpayers and analysis of sustainability.

Mon Rail: The Board agreed to further incorporate transit by doing an initial feasibility study of the monorail along I-270

Questions for the SHA on the Beltways Expansion Plan

The Mayor and Council have invited Lisa Choplin and members of the SHA team to answer questions about Governor Hogan’s Traffic Relief Plan (expansion plan) on I-495 Beltway and I-270 at this week’s worksession. The Mayor and Council sent the following questions to the P3 (private-public partnership) team in preparation for this Worksession:

  1. Regarding the two LOD (Limit of Disturbance) areas shown in the green line on the map below (one is between I-495 and Edgewood Road, and the other is the parcel north of I-495, east of Odessa Road):
    • How certain is that designation and the boundaries?
    • What changes might still be made to the LOD area boundaries when the private partner is selected?
    • What can be expected in that area?
    • How will they access the LOD areas – from the beltway or from local roads?
  2. Regarding the property north of I-495 that is east of Odessa Road that the SHA is planning to take:
    • How do you intend to acquire that property? Purchase or eminent domain? The City planned on using that parcel for a park – do you need all of it, or just a portion?
  3. Regarding Traffic impacts:
    • SHA has referred to the COG TPB Study. The TPB Study says that managed lanes would include a transit option. What commitment are you making to include for a transit option as provided for in the COG model?
    • What is the purpose of the Transportation Secretary’s “Working Group on Transit?”
    • What is the basis for the claim that additional traffic capacity on I-495 would decrease traffic on our local streets – what modeling/study is that based on?
    • Additional capacity on the Beltway will lead to more traffic coming to exits such as the exit leading to Baltimore Avenue in College Park at a faster rate. What will SHA do to accommodate this additional traffic?
    • What is the basis for the claim that additional vehicle miles traveled on 495/270 v. the no-build option will result in less greenhouse gas emissions?
    • Previous communications from MDOT have suggested that tolls would be set so as to mitigate increases in vehicle miles traveled. What economic analyses has MDOT done to determine what level of tolls would be necessary to limit increases in VMT?
  4. Regarding the 66 dB Noise Contour Line (shown in the red dotted line on the map below): Does this line indicate the current noise boundary, or the noise boundary after the expansion?

Please Send Your Comments on Beltway Expansion Plan Before this Wednesday

This Wednesday (June 5), a critical vote by the Board of Public Works is coming on the pan to widen the Beltway and add toll lanes to it. The Maryland Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, June 5, on whether to allow pre-solicitation contacts to be put out prior to conducting an environmental impact statement (EIS) and traffic study on what would be the largest Public Private Partnership (P3) ever in Maryland.

If Beltway is expanded, many of our residents living next to the Beltway will be losing part of their homes, hundreds of our residents in College Park will be exposed to more noise and air pollution, acres of green space with dozens of mature trees in the city will be lost, our residents can potentially lose a park that we were about to build in the Sunnyside neighborhood of my district. Furthermore, once the Beltway is expanded, there will be a lot more traffic on Route 1 in College Park, making the failing I-495 exit at route 1 even worse. You can read more about the impact of Beltway expansion here on my blog.

Please ask the Board to step back and conduct an Environmental Impact Statement first before moving further.

Please also sign this petition.

The Board of Public Works consists of 3 members, Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp. Here you can send your comments to the Board members here.

Comptroller Peter Franchot
Email: pfranchot@comp.state.md.us
Phone: 410-260-7801

Governor Larry Hogan
Online: https://governor.maryland.gov/contact-the-governor/
Phone: 410-974-3901

Treasurer Nancy Kopp
Email: treasurer@treasurer.state.md.us
Phone: 410-260-7160

You can also continue to provide overall comments regarding the Expansion/Toll of 495 and 270:

Comment online: www.495-270-P3.com
Via email: 495-270-P3@sha.state.md.us

[Photo credit: wtop.com]

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