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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.

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1 Comment to “Four Public Hearings Start Tomorrow about Adding Toll lanes to I-495 Beltway”

  1. By Judith Wang, August 21, 2020 @ 11:23 am

    These plans are based on old analysis, which certainly does not reflect today’s covid-19 pandemic reality. Nor does it reflect the possible ongoing impact of this pandemic. Even assuming that enough of the population actually will eventually receive an effective vaccine – and that’s an iffy assumption these days, never mind the fact that we don’t know when such a vaccine will be available – a lot of people who have been working remotely might very well decide to continue working remotely. We have come to appreciate the convenience of not having to get in a car and deal with traffic. And our employers have learned that a lot of people can do their jobs just as well working from home. People have also grown even more accustomed to shopping online than before.

    Finally, look at the ICC and the Purple Line. All that disruption, environmental impact, delays, and expense – and even pre-covid the iCC has never carried anywhere near as much traffic – or generated as much income – as planners expected. As for the Purple Line, who knows when or even if it will be completed and at what expense? The Capital Crescent Trail has been messed up, a whole bunch of businesses have been impacted, and for what? Enough already!