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Last Day to Submit Comments on I-495 Beltway Expansion

Today is the last day to submit comments on the I-495 Beltway expansion plan. If you haven’t had a chance to submit your comments, please do so today.

A 90-day comment period was originally provided, twice the minimum time required. However, based on input from community partners, stakeholders and local and federal officials, the period was extended to 120 days – giving the public until November 9 to submit comments on the DEIS.

The public may provide comments on the DEIS through an online comment form at 495-270-p3.com/DEIS.

Written comments also may be emailed to MLS-NEPA-P3@mdot.maryland.gov

You can also mail your written comments to:

Lisa B. Choplin, DBIA, Director
I-495 & I-270 P3 Office
Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street, Mail Stop P-601
Baltimore, MD 21202

Don’t Miss this Webinar about the P3 Plan for Beltway Toll Lanes

Experts Jeremy Mohler and Shar Habibi from the national think-tank “In the Public Interest” will discuss the public-private-partnership (P3) process and how it will work on the proposed Beltway toll lanes. A P3 is a complex and detailed form of privatization that gives control of a public good or service to a private entity. P3s are often risky, expensive, and secretive. Learn more.

When:  October 28   6 -7:30 pm

Click here to register for the webinar. (You must register in advance.) An e-mail with a link to the presentation will be sent to everyone who registers. There will be a time for questions following the formal presentation.

Background: The toll-lane project includes more than 70 miles of interstate highway. The P3 program would give the responsibility of designing, financing, constructing, and maintaining the toll lanes to a private contractor who would be able to set prices and collect tolls for the next 50 years. The Maryland Dept. of Transportation says this is necessary because there are insufficient funds in the Transportation Trust Fund to finance this infrastructure. But it’s now clear the toll-lane project would require taxpayer subsidy.

Critical issues must be carefully considered before MDOT goes forward with this project:

1)      Is this infrastructure actually needed?

2)      How much will Maryland taxpayers have to pay to support this P3?

3)      Are P3s actually successful in transferring the risk of the project to the private entity?

Compared to the traditional route of issuing municipal bonds for capital projects, P3s are often cited as a less expensive way to leverage private capital to achieve public construction goals. But are they? What are the costs and what are the risks? With Gov. Hogan proposing a P3 for the addition of toll lanes on I-270 and I-495, the more we understand about P3 projects, the better we can advocate for our tax dollars.

Draft City Comments on Beltway Expansion Project

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will consider approving a letter to the MDOT/SHA about Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study, in particular its impact on College Park. On July 10, 2020, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) released the Notice of Availability of the DEIS and announced a 90-day review period including several public hearings. The deadline to submit comments has been extended until early next month.

The City Council has previously written to the Governor to oppose the Managed Lanes project and the P3 program. After reviewing the information provided in the DEIS, the City Council remains opposed to the project and strongly recommends the No-Build Alternative as the responsible course of action.

The City has identified significant concerns and areas requiring additional information that should be addressed in the DEIS. These are described below. I’ve asked to have languages asking alternative sites for the Odessa Parka and the Polish Club properties.
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Direct Access Interchanges
US 1 and I‐495: It is not clear how this intersection will be rebuilt including adjustments to the ramps and reconstruction of the US 1 bridge. Any bridge reconstruction should include bike lanes and crosswalks at ramp intersections to eliminate the barriers for pedestrians and bicyclists created by I‐495. Greenbelt Metro and I‐495: It is assumed that a full interchange at this location is in place, however, this interchange was proposed to be constructed in conjunction with private sector development of WMATA property which has been canceled. The cost of building this interchange needs to be included in the project budget. More information is also needed about the realignment of the entrance to the Greenbelt Metro Station.

Noise Barriers
All noise barriers are proposed for replacement and some will be increased in length and height. It is requested that a noise barrier be extended along the northern property line of 4700 Edgewood Road and that the maximum height be used to buffer all single‐family homes in College Park. The use of roadside vegetative barriers in these areas is highly encouraged to improve air quality and reduce concentrations of downwind pollutants.

Property Acquisition
Partial acquisition of 34 properties in College Park is proposed including two City‐owned properties. For private property, acquiring even a small strip of land could result in the property becoming nonconforming under the Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance. These specific impacts need to be identified for each property.

Polish Club of College Park:
This 5.6‐acre property contains woodlands, wetlands and wildlife and adjoins the Hollywood neighborhood, Hollywood Park and a K‐8 school and preschool. Please clarify if a full or partial acquisition is contemplated. The proposed use of this site for construction staging and materials storage would result in unacceptable impacts to this neighborhood in terms of vehicle exhaust, noise, loss of tree canopy and construction traffic. Should this property be used in this manner for the short term, it is requested that a long‐term reuse plan be developed to provide an amenity for the community.

10020 51st Avenue:
The limit of disturbance, as shown, would eliminate driveway access to this property.

Sunnyside Outlots/Odessa Park:
Approximately half of this property, proposed to be developed by the City as a park and playground, would be used for a storm water management facility. This will reduce the design footprint of the park and place proposed improvements closer to existing residences reducing its attractiveness and utility. Odessa Park should be added to the parks inventory and evaluated. More detail on the Park Impacts

Hollywood Park:
While the impacts are listed as de minimis, there is concern about how the realignment of the Greenbelt Metro Station access road might impact the viewshed and noise in the park and larger neighborhood.

Cherry Hill Road Park:
The natural areas of this park will be significantly impacted by the substantial loss of trees, which will further degrade the green infrastructure surrounding the City. Additional information is needed so that we can understand the full extent of impacts to parkland and how to make the park systems whole through mitigation.

Streams and Waterways
The College Park area has three streams that will be impacted by the project: Indian Creek, Little Paint Branch and Paint Branch. As many neighborhoods in the City lie within the 100‐year floodplain, the
increases in impervious surface from the project and changes to groundwater and hydrology, elevate the risk for increased flooding. Additional floodplain modeling for this watershed must be done now to understand the full impacts and offer mitigation strategies. It cannot wait until later in the design phase. We are also concerned that local water quality will be degraded and endanger aquatic biota in the streams that cannot tolerate warmwater conditions.

Green Infrastructure and Forest Mitigation
College Park is already experiencing a decrease in tree canopy based on development activity, which will be exacerbated by this project. The green infrastructure corridor along the Beltway offers ecologically important undeveloped land which will be disrupted by the project. Study area impacts are reported in the DEIS but are not broken down to the local level. Please provide this information in the FEIS. While the City is poised to lose green infrastructure, it is unlikely to be the beneficiary of forest mitigation. Under Maryland Reforestation Law, a minimum of five contiguous acres of public land is needed for replanting within the same watershed. Please reconsider this standard in College Park and other communities in the Developed Tier where this standard cannot be met. City staff will work with M‐NCPPC and your team to identify alternative sites to help restore the tree canopy in the College Park area.

Traffic Congestion
The stated purpose and need for the project is to provide congestion relief and accommodate future long‐term traffic growth. The traffic modeling and analysis in the DEIS is insufficient to conclude that the project will meet this need for several reasons. The analysis needs to be updated using the most recent traffic data from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), and to consider the impacts of increased capacity on land use. It is unrealistic to assume that there will be no effect, therefore, the number of new trips generated is underestimated. Consideration also needs to be given to the effects of the pandemic on traffic growth patterns as many people may permanently transition to telework. The likely increase in the use of Autonomous Vehicles in the future is not addressed and should be.

The City is concerned that induced traffic demand on arterial and collector roads leading to the Beltway such as Baltimore Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue and MD 193 is underestimated. These roads are already highly congested and specific details for them need to be provided in the FEIS including an analysis of traffic, noise, and air quality impacts.

It is unfortunate that no public transit options were included as alternatives retained for detailed study in the DEIS. This should be revisited along with transportation systems management (TSM) and transportation demand management (TDM) as serious strategies with less environmental and financial costs.

Environmental Justice
The DEIS claims that all Build Alternatives under consideration will benefit minority and low‐income populations (Environmental Justice (EJ) communities) but does not adequately explain this conclusion. College Park census blocks in the study area meet the definition of an EJ community yet measures to mitigate any potential disproportionate effect on them is missing. The report does not give sufficient attention to the fact that the expected high toll prices may be too much of a cost burden to the EJ community. Equitable access to the managed lanes has not been demonstrated and recommendations such as toll subsidies should be included.

Outreach and input from the EJ community is also missing and must be addressed prior to any second phase of construction. Only one stakeholder meeting in June 2019 is reported but the feedback from the meeting has not been included. Better public participation and involvement is needed. For the reasons stated, the City Council finds that the DEIS falls short of meeting the purpose and need for the project, and that the environmental and other costs far outweigh the benefits of the project.

City Staff Comments on I-495 Beltway Expansion Project

At this week’s meeting, the City COuncil will discuss the review of Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study, in particular its impact on College Park. On July 10, 2020, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) released the Notice of Availability of the DEIS and announced a 90-day review period including several public hearings. This comment period has been extended 30 days to November 9, 2020. A range of 15 preliminary alternatives were initially identified and screened, and ultimately 8 alternatives were retained and analyzed in the DEIS including a no build alternative. No standalone transit alternatives are included but allowing free bus usage in managed lanes and accommodating connections to existing transit stations are proposed in each Build Alternative. The managed lanes proposed are designed to control the number of vehicles using the lane to keep them flowing at an acceptable level of service (LOS) and include, but are not limited to, HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes, HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes, ETL’s (express toll lanes), and bus-only lanes.

Please see the full staff report below:

Four Public Hearings Start Tomorrow about Adding Toll lanes to I-495 Beltway

Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration said in a statement that the first public-comment hearing on the 18,000+ page I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation will begin with a virtual hearing from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 18,.

You’ll need to register in advance online. You can watch the hearings online, or listen in by calling 1-855-432-1483.

There will also be virtual hearings on Aug. 20, Aug. 25 and Sept. 3.

Three sessions are available for each hearing:
Morning (9 AM – 12 PM)
Afternoon (1 – 4 PM)
Evening (5 – 8 PM)
Email instructions will be sent for approved session time.

One of the 6 alternatives the MDOT / SHA are looking as part of the I-495 expansion plan. In this plan (alternative # 8) the proposal adds two Express Toll Lanes (ETL) in each direction on I 495, and 1 HOV managed lane on I-270.

The DEIS analyzes six plans to build high-occupancy toll lanes and/or express toll lanes, as well as a plan that involves no new construction.

The expansion project is estimated to cost as much as $11 billion — relying on private firms to construct the project and recoup their investment through toll revenues on new toll lanes.

In College Park, according to the DEIS, 22 acres of properties will need to be acquired due to road widening, bridge replacement, noise barrier construction, and new storm water management facilities.

Impact on properties in College Park due to expansion plan in different alternatives.

Also, the noise impact of the widening in College Park can be found here (page 274, Map 16), and also in the map below. The noise sensitive areas (NSA) are shown in purple-blue on both sides of the beltway. The red – dotted line shows the 66dB noise contour line.

The I-495 corridor in Maryland was previously separated into four (4) phases, based on the status of the noise barrier in each NSA. These phases were retained for this Study in order to maintain consistency. Phase 1 includes NSAs that do not have an existing noise barrier. Phases 2 and 3 contain existing noise barriers, and Phase 4 includes non-residential noise-sensitive land uses.

Please also read here how the Beltway expansion in In College Park, can cause loss of properties & green Space, reduce playground area, and increase noise & traffic.

Map showing limit of disturbance (LOD) line of the Beltway expansion project in College Park

According to the KPMG report, Automotive’s New Reality: Fewer Trips, Fewer Miles, Fewer Cars, the distance US drivers travel in a year could drop as much as 270 billion miles per year. Together with other COVID-19 impacts on teleworking and on-line shopping that could translate into 7 million to 10 million fewer vehicles on the road. Analysts think driving patterns and congestions on our roadways and highways may not be the same even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

The expansion plan will also have other consequences on the residents pocketbooks.  For example, the WSSC line relocation cost ($1.3 – $2 billion) in the Beltway expansion project may hike Water bills 

After the DEIS was made public, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff delivered a lengthy critical response to a draft environmental impact statement released last week on the proposed widening of I-495 and I-270. The staff’s concerns included underestimating the area affected by construction work, inadequately protecting park acreage and giving short shrift to mass transit options.

Comments can be be submitted here on this form . You can also Email at mailto:MLS-NEPA-P3@mdot.maryland.gov

Additionally, you can send a written letter about DEISto :
Lisa B. Choplin, DBIA
Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Office
Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street
Mail Stop P-601, Baltimore, MD 21202

The deadline for submitting written comments on the DEIS is 11:59 pm on October 8.

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!

RALLY TO STOP TOLL LANES ON I-495/I-270!

MONDAY — DECEMBER 16 7:00 PM
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.

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