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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?
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1 Comment to “Questions for the SHA on the Beltways Expansion Plan”

  1. By DAK4Blizzard, June 4, 2019 @ 4:54 pm

    Thank you for sending these key questions to the P3 team. I’m particularly curious how they address the questions about a new transit option, how traffic would decrease on local streets, and how additional traffic at the exits will be accommodated.

    They at least seem to be aware that extra ramps wouldn’t work at Georgia Avenue, which is super constricted and congested. But will extra ramps work at other interchanges? It seems most interchanges on the Beltway are already at or approaching failing capacity, including nearby US-1 and New Hampshire Ave.

    It would at least appease me if they can confirm that the toll lanes will enable transit vehicles and certain carpools free of charge. That information has not been made clear, but that should be an expectation.

    I think a lot of people are naively assuming 2 toll lanes each direction will free up the regular lanes. If the toll lanes are privately built, they’ll need to make revenue. They can only make revenue if there’s a demand to use them. That demand occurs only when there’s congestion on the regular lanes (except for the small minority of drivers using the toll lanes to avoid heightened risk of an incident occurring that would delay them).

    I feel badly for those living within 500 feet of the Beltway. It’s going to get worse for most of them. If they choose not to sell, they’ll have to put up with the construction noise and pollution for at least a few years. This is not going to be a quick project. Could end up bleeding into the following decade (2030) if not properly managed.