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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]

Beltway Town Hall on May 23, Final MDOT Public Meeting Tonight

In addition to the Rep. Brown’s town hall below, please join tonight at the final MDOT public meeting on the I-270/I-495 toll lane widening plan. Please weigh in and share your concerns with the current scope of this project. This is the final public meeting before it goes forward to the Board of Public Works for approval. Please make every effort to attend the meeting.

Thursday, May 16, 2019, at 6:30pm at Seneca Valley High School (19401 Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown, MD 20874).

In College Park, Beltway Expansion Can Cause Loss of Properties & Green Space, Kill a Playground, and Increase Noise & Traffic

The MDOT has recently published a map  showing the areas in College Park  neighborhoods that will most likely be impacted by their proposed I-495 / I-270 expansion plan. In all of the alternatives, I found the following issues should concern us all.

  • Loss of residential properties / property value: 18 homes on Niagara Rd and Odessa Road will lose part of their backyards. For neighbors on Ontario Road, the beltway will come right next to the street, potentially causing a significant loss of property values.
  • The completely wooded Polish Club property on Edgewood Road has been designated within the “Limit of Disturbances”

    Loss of trees and green space: The green boundary in the map shows the “Limit of Disturbances”, indicating the areas which will most likely be used as a staging area during construction. The areas include (a) the SHA owned wooded area, and (b) more importantly, a very large parcel north of Edgewood Road (called Polish Club) property and (c) also a large City – Owned parcel at the end of Odessa Road in Sunnyside. It’s unclear whether the MDOT will acquire the Polish Club or Odessa Rd properties using eminent domain or lease them from the property owners. Regardless of the way the arrangement,  the use of these properties for construction purposes mean loss of many trees in these parcels.

  • The dotted red line showing 66dB noise contour line

    Increased Noise and Pollution: The beltway noise and pollution impact boundary line will go deeper into the neighborhood. The red dotted line shows the 66 decibel noise line. The neighbors living closer to the beltway will be experiencing noise with a higher decibel level.

  • Construction delay or even loss of the proposed Sunnyside playground: The City has worked with the residents of the Sunnyside neighborhood (north of Beltway) over the past two years to build a playground on the City-owned property, at the end of Odessa Road. The City Council has allocated funds in the FY20 budget to build the park and we’ were expecting to start construction in a few months A large section of the playground has been proposed to be under the “Limit of Disturbance” area, meaning either delay or total loss of the project, depending on whether the area is leased or acquired through the eminent domain.
  • Increased traffic on Route 1: With 4 lanes added to the beltway, we can expect more volume of traffic over the time, at all beltway exit roads , such as Connecticut Ave, Georgia Ave, New Hampshire ave, including Route 1 in College Park.Unfortunately , the Route 1 at the beltway intersection is already dysfunctional as motorists need to wait several traffic cycles at exit 25 on the ramp. Things can only get worse with increased volume on an expanded beltway.An increased traffic on Route 1 will also go against City’s long standing efforts to reduce traffic on Route 1 by exploring alternative modes of transportation, such as through the complete street project, and building more student housing close to the campus.

The College Park City Council discussed some of the impacts at this past Tuesday’s meeting. We plan to approve a letter to the Board of Public Works (BPW) at next Tuesday’s meeting. The BPW is set to meet and vote next month, most likely on June 5.

Please send your comments / concerns here. Also, please consider joining the resident advocacy group Cabe495 here. There’s also a petition going to the 3 members of the State Board of Public Works, which is scheduled to vote on Beltway expansion soon.

Find How the Beltway Expansion Plan May Affect Your Homes

Several north College Park homes are at risk because of the Beltway expansion plan

Starting this week, the MDOT SHA will be hosting a series of public workshops to present its plan to widen the section of I-495 Beltway and I-270 highways.

Officials from the MDOT SHA will be out at these eight workshops  to “sell” the proposed plan about the traffic, environmental, and financial analyses for the recommended “Screened Alternatives along with the recommendations for the alternatives to be retained for detailed study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement”.

The project, dubbed as the ‘Traffic Relief Plan,’ seeks to have the state partner with a private company to expand capacity on I-270 and the Maryland portion of the Beltway by adding toll lanes at “zero cost” to the state.

Though the original plan stated that it would not claim any private homes, recent comments from some officials suggest that is the best case option. Several homes along beltway, including as many as 45 homes in north College Park are at risk. Many north College Park residents are also worried about the indirect impact due to increased noise and pollution.

Advocacy groups like Cabe495 are working with residents to take their concerns to the MDOT.

The City of College Park has been opposing the expansion plan and has asked the MDOT to look into alternative transportation option to ease traffic. I, personally, testified with our concerns at the regional transportation meeting.

MDOT wants to fund construction of four new lanes on the Beltway and I-270 through the use of public-private partnerships, financing arrangements in which private-sector firms provide up-front monies in exchange for the right to collect tolls on the new lanes, for up to 50 years. Existing lanes would remain free.

The College Park City Council recently supported House Bill 1091 — a legislation that would require additional assessments of the environmental and financial impact of the proposal. That bill was approved by the House of Delegates 96-42 on March 18 but the Senate has been slow to move.

Map of I-495 and I-270 map showing the sections that might be widened (MDOT-SHA)

Options to “Improve” I495 Beltway Will be Ready Soon

At last night’s meeting, the City Council got an update about the proposed Beltway improvment update. This is part of the CTP (Consolidate Transportation Plan (CTP) that MDOT has released its six-year draft for review and comment. The CTP includes detailed information on minor and major capital projects across all agencies. The full CTP document can be reviewed at http://www.mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/Planning/CTP/Index.html.

The CTP features a new project, “I-270, Eisenhower Memorial Highway, and I-495, Capital Beltway”. that appears to be funding for the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study and has taken the place of last year’s study to widen I-495 and the study to implement high occupancy traffic (HOT) lanes. SHA is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and is soliciting proposals for a public-private partnership which will be charged with designing and constructing express toll lanes (ETLs) along I-270 and I-495.

The project is funded for planning only and the budget has been increased by $68.3 million. At present, the project does not specifically mention widening the highways, nor are there any other studies or projects in the CTP geared specifically towards widening I-495. However, the Managed Lanes Study’s Preliminary Range of Alternatives report (https://495-270-p3.com/online_public_workshop/)

MDOT isconsidering 15alternativeoptions.Ashortlist ofoptions can be found in 2-3month.

The other highlights of the CTP include bike and pedestrian improvements along US1 from College Park to MD193 (Segment 1) contract could be awarded by February 11th, 2019. The project is not expected to be completed in its entirety until April 2024. Reconstruction of US 1 in north College Park from MD193 to the Capital Beltway (Segments 2 & 3) remains unfunded beyond the completed planning phase and there is no timeline associated with funding or construction. It is, however, listed as a project to be completed over the next 20 years.

Public Meeting on Beltway Widening, Today

In the fall of 2018, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a plan to widen I-270 and I-495, adding four express toll lanes each. The controversial plan would spend billions of dollars on highway expansions that some experts say will ultimately make congestion, housing affordability, and quality of life worse. Now, more details are about to come out.

Starting this week, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is hosting a series of public workshops to review and discuss preliminary concepts for the plan in both Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. At the meetings, MDOT will present the study status and schedule, a summary of the purpose and need, preliminary alternatives, and screening criteria to evaluate the alternatives.

There are several public workshops, with the first one happening TODAY, Tuesday, July 17. Each workshop will begin at 6:30 pm with short presentations at 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Today, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 7601 Hanover Parkway, Greenbelt, MD 20770

Beltway – Edgewood Rd Interchange Safety Improvement Project Update

Here are some updates about the Beltway-Edgewood Interchange project.

The SHA has added the project to their website. Here is the link.

According to the SHA, topographic surveys and existing right of way information were received on December 11, 2015. The design team is currently working towards the 10% design milestone, which includes setting the alignments and typical section for the project.

According to the site, the purpose of this project is to improve safety at the I-495 and US 1 interchange and the US 1 and Edgewood Road intersection. The project limits extend from Cherry Hill Road to the inner loop ramp from eastbound I-495 to northbound US 1 for a distance of 0.251 miles. The scope of the project includes reconfiguration of the I-495 and US 1 interchange and realignment of the US 1 and Edgewood intersection to enhance safety.

The proposed improvements include:
• The removal of the eastbound I-495 to northbound US 1 inner loop ramp. This will eliminate the weave at the collector-distributer road traveling on I-495 and on US 1.
• The eastbound I-495 to southbound US 1 ramp will incorporate left turn movements to compensate for the removal of the eastbound I-495 to northbound US 1 inner loop ramp.
• The storage length at the same ramp will be extended to service higher traffic capacity.
• The entrance to Edgewood Road will be realigned to better accommodate drivers coming off the eastbound I-495 to southbound US 1 ramp.
• The existing northbound US 1 to eastbound I-495 ramp will be realigned to provide a smoother transition onto I-495.

Also, there is a strong possibility that the the Cherry Hill rd intersection improvement might be included in the scope of the project.

I’ll keep you posted as we get more update.

SHA Plans to Widen Beltway in North College Park

Last Wednesday evening, I attended a meeting on SHA’s (the State Highway Administration) Greenbelt Metro interchange project on I-495 beltway. The 3.2 mile long project spans the portion of beltway between Rt 1 and the I-295, however the main focus of the project is to build a full interchange at the Greenbelt Metro allowing easy access between the Greenbelt Metro and east side of beltway. It appears that the interchange development is related to the proposed FBI development at Greenbelt, however the SHA is saying that the interchange project will move ahead regardless of whether FBI moves to Greenbelt or not.

As part of the plan, the SHA wants to widen the inner and outer loops of beltway in north College Park, roughly between Rt 1 and Greenbelt station. SHA plans to build one extra lane (about 10 ft wide) in both inner and outer loops. It means that the existing sound barriers will come closer to the houses in Sunnyside neighborhood, and also near Ontario Rd and Niagara Place. According to SHA, the 70% design of this project will be completed in sometime next month, however actual construction of the widening will not start in about 10 years. The widening project is in phase 2 of the larger project and its construction will start the construction of the interchange at Greenbelt (phase 1 of the project).

You can find more information about the project here on SHA’s website.

I’ll keep you posted as we hear more about the project. I’ve also requested to have a discussion at the NCPCA in February.

Greenebelt Interchange - College Park

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