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Land Use and Zoning

Two City-owned properties located north of 495 in the Sunnyside neighborhood are within the LOD and are proposed for stormwater management facilities. The parcel at the intersection of 51st Avenue and Odessa Road adjoins the City right-of-way and does not appear to be a significant impact. The LOD may impact the adjoining private property at 10020 51st  Avenue that has driveway access from 51st Avenue. The property at the end of Odessa Road known as the Sunnyside out lots is proposed for a neighborhood playground, which will be built outside of the LOD.

The private property owned by the Polish Club of College Park is located south of 495 and adjoins the  Hollywood neighborhood. It contains 5.6 acres most of which are impacted by an expanded LOD. MDOT proposes a construction staging and materials storage area along with two stormwater management facilities. The expanded LOD avoids a delineated wetland on the property, but it is not clear how the staging and storage area is proposed to be accessed.

The report states that all property owners from whom total or partial right-of-way acquisition would be obtained would be compensated and paid fair market value for the affected property. Property acquisitions for transportation right-of-way would generally occur to properties adjacent to the existing I-495 roadway, acquiring strips of land from undeveloped areas or areas of trees and landscaping. Larger areas will be acquired for stormwater management. Table 4-7 lists the total amount of full and partial property acquisition by corridor between existing interchanges. The table shows a total of 34 properties with 22.0 acres of partial property acquisitions in order to widen the roadway, replace a bridge, install noise barriers, and construct stormwater management facilities. Total right-of-way acreage requirements differ from total land use conversion acreage shown below due to differences in GIS base layer boundaries. Each individual property acquisition will be reviewed during final design.

All the viable Build Alternatives require the same amount of land (a total of 16.4 acres) in College Park.  as shown below:

Commercial/Employment 0.1 acre
Mixed-Use: 0.2 acre
Park/Open Space: 1.8 acres
Residential: 12.9 acres
Transportation: 1.4 acres
Total Land Required: 16.4 acres

    Table 4-7

Additional stormwater management facilities, shown in purple below, are proposed on state-owned land by the I-495 intersection with US-1.

495 Viewshed and Noise Barriers

The existing I-495 width is variable, between 138 and 146 feet. Many of the structural elements along I-495 are composed of galvanized metal (guardrails, light poles) and concrete noise barriers. Deciduous trees provide a screen between I-495 and adjacent development in College Park.

Constructing any of the Build Alternatives would require relocation of signage, guardrails, communications towers, and light poles to widen the roadway. The relocated items may be positioned closer to the adjacent properties. Noise barriers at a height of 18-20 feet would be replaced and may also be positioned closer to the adjacent properties. Noise barriers would be replaced and constructed between US 1 and Hollywood Park in College Park on the south side. On the north side, noise barriers would be replaced and constructed starting at Rhode Island Avenue going east past Odessa Road.

Construction may require removal of vegetation throughout the corridor. Adjoining properties would be impacted by the change in visual resources, although the viewshed would be generally consistent with the current viewshed.

Archaeological Resources

No archaeological resources were identified as impacted by Build Alternatives in College Park.

Air Quality

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected to increase slightly for the Build Alternative conditions when compared to the No Build condition for 2025 (the expected opening year). GHG emissions are expected to increase for all Build Alternatives when compared to the No Build condition for 2040. The study reports that a reduction in congestion with an increase in travel speed will decrease the amount of fuel combustion and associated emissions, minimizing the impacts of GHGs. The report states that no long-term or regional air quality impacts are anticipated.

Hazardous Materials

No hazardous materials were identified in the study area in College Park.

Natural Resources

Streams and Waterways

Three streams that flow through College Park will be impacted by the I-495 Build Alternatives. Indian Creek is the farthest east in Greenbelt, Little Paint Branch is just outside of the City boundary to the west and Paint Branch is slightly farther west than Little Paint Branch.

The report states that Little Paint Branch would be the least impacted with less than 1,500 linear feet of potential impact. However, Table 2.3 shows an impact to 17,012 square feet of wetlands of Little Paint Branch. Indian Creek does not have data on its own as it is grouped into the Northeast Branch watershed.

Table 2.3, relevant sections summarized below, shows the detailed impacts to wetlands and waterways.

SF of ImpactLittle Paint BranchPaint BranchNortheast Branch (includes Indian Creek)
Wetlands17,01288,221131,721
Palustrine Emergent (PEM)14,01123,615
Palustrine Forested (PFO)17,01274,21097,273
Waterways16,817166,599179,857
Ephemeral1,8683,974
Perennial15,149121,627100,213
Intermittent1,68827,52375,670
Palustrine Open Water (POW)15,581
Additional Impervious Surface439,0881,270,0583,758,473

 

All Build Alternatives would affect surface waters, surface water quality, and watershed characteristics in the study area due to direct and indirect impacts to ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial stream channels and increases in impervious surface in the watersheds. During construction, impacts include erosion of exposed soil, removal of trees and riparian vegetation, and loss of shade which raises water temperatures in the stream.

Paint Branch is specifically highlighted as a concern since the stream supports aquatic biota less tolerant of warmwater conditions. MDE, USACE, MDNR, and USFWS consider Paint Branch a valuable resource as it has good instream habitat diversity and relatively good bank stability with a forested riparian zone. Where the Paint Branch mainstem could not be avoided, impacts will be minimized by constructing bridges at all new crossings of Paint Branch.

There are box culverts currently at Little Paint Branch and Indian Creek that would require extensions to accommodate roadway widening. During land clearing and construction of culvert extensions, the stream channel is excavated and any organisms living within the stream channel would be displaced or crushed by construction equipment. The extensions may also inhibit aquatic organism passage through the culverts. No avoidance or minimization is possible in these locations.

Groundwater and hydrology may be impacted by highway stormwater runoff that carries gasoline, oil, road salts, and heavy metals from gasoline additives and highway maintenance. There may be impacts to the 100-year floodplain. The estimated impact to the floodplain is shown across the entire study area

with no further detail. Actual analysis of potential study related changes to hydraulic function and elevation of floodplains would be determined using hydraulic and hydrologic floodplain modeling in later phases of the design.

 

Image from PGAtlas.com

 

Green Infrastructure

The study shows impacts to forest canopy throughout the entire study area but not local impacts. The Natural Resources Inventory map shows no impact to Forest Interior Dwelling Species (FIDS) in the study area directly impacting College Park.

College Park has multiple Green Infrastructure (GI) Hubs and Corridors as shown in the map below. GI areas were identified by the Maryland Greenways Commission and MDNR’s Green Infrastructure Assessment (GIA) as the most ecologically important undeveloped lands remaining in Maryland. The Green Infrastructure Gaps color label should be more clearly contrasted with the Green Infrastructure Hubs and Corridors as both green colors are similar. The impacts to GI Hubs and Corridors are shown for the entire study area and are not broken down to the local level.

 

Endangered Species

There are some Maryland Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species near the corridor study boundary. The state-endangered long’s rush, the state threatened long-stalk greenbrier (Smilax pseudochina), and the state-rare pink milkwort (Polygala incarnata) occur within wetlands associated with Little Paint Branch east of I-95 where the corridor study boundary crosses the Little Paint Branch near Cherry Hill. There are also records of the state-threatened American brook lamprey (Lethenteron appendix) and the acuminate crayfish (Cambarus acuminatus), a species designated as In Need of Conservation where the project route crosses Little Paint Branch in the Cherry Hill area. The floodplain of a tributary of Indian Creek near the Greenbelt Metro Station supports a population of state-endangered trailing stitchwort (Stellaria alsine). MDNR emphasized the need for stringent erosion and sediment control in these areas. MDNR suggested habitat surveys be conducted only if the corridor study boundary would overlap these areas. Currently, the study boundary does not encroach on those areas.

Environmental Justice

College Park demographics are analyzed at the census block level with all of the impacted census blocks being comprised of minority populations and some of the census blocks also including low income populations as shown in Figure 4-15. The census block groups north of I-495 are not shown in the College Park maps, they are shown in the Beltsville maps.  The study reported public involvement efforts during a June 2019 stakeholder meeting with College Park, Berwyn Heights, Greenbelt and New Carrolton, and North College Park Citizens’ Association meeting with 53 attendees in June 2019. The report does not include feedback from those meetings.

The report claims that the Build Alternatives would reduce emissions and congestion while improving emergency access response, increasing travel choice, and providing reliable travel times, which would all benefit human health and safety. Potential tolled lanes could be a less feasible choice for Environmental Justice populations due to the cost burden.

 

 

Parks and Historic Properties

The following table summarizes the impacts to parks and historic properties in and near College Park.

 

Impacts to Parks and Historic Properties

Inventory #NameType of PropertyOfficials with JurisdictionPotential Acres ImpactedDEIS Study Comments
54Cherry Hill Road ParkPublic ParkM-NCPPC1.8Outside city limits, Will not impact facilities nor recreational activities but will affect natural areas of the park by causing substantial tree loss. Impacts include removing trees, grading, constructing, operating and maintaining stormwater management facilities, improvements to the existing culvert for Little Paint Branch, and access for construction vehicles and materials. (See Figure 2-19 Below).
55Beltsville Agricultural Research CenterHistoric SiteMHT0.5Study determined de minimis impact, located outside city limits. Will not impact any standing structures or agricultural activities. Impacts consist of tree removal, grading and access of construction vehicles and materials to accommodate access for construction vehicles and materials and I-95 interchange and augmentation of existing culverts beneath I-495 (See Figure 2-19 Below).
56Sunnyside ParkPublic ParkM-NCPPC0.0No impact and outside city limits (See Figure 2-19 Below).
57Hollywood ParkPublic ParkM-NCPPC≤0.1Study determined de minimis impact. Will not impact facilities or recreational areas.  Impact is to accommodate the realignment of the entrance to Greenbelt Metro Station and provide access to construction vehicles and materials (See Figure 2-20 below).
58B & O Railroad, Washington BranchHistoric SiteMHT0.6Qualifies as exempt according to study.  Impact is to accommodate widening a bridge across the railroad (See Figure 2-20 below).
No number assignedOdessa ParkPublic ParkCity of College Park0.0The proposed improvements to Odessa Park are located outside the limits of disturbance (See Figure 2-20 below).

 

Map Showing Limits of Impacts to Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and Cherry Hill Road Park

Map Showing Limits of Impacts to Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC)

Map Showing Limits of Impact to B & O Railroad Washington Branch and Hollywood Park

Traffic

The tables below show the percent of travel demand (vehicle throughputs as a percentage of travel demand) met for all alternatives for 2040 for the segments near College Park between I-95 and Greenbelt Station. They assume that a full interchange at the Greenbelt Metro Station is in place and the Purple Line is constructed. They do not take into consideration either the effect of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) or the pandemic. If mass use of AV’s becomes the norm, there will be less importance placed on a shorter commute. If that time can be spent more productively, instead of driving, people might be more willing to ‘sit’ in traffic. It is anticipated that there will be a shift to more work from home. Pre-pandemic, about 7% of US workers had the option to regularly work from home (Desilver, 2020). That number is now estimated around 42% during the pandemic (Gorlick, 2020). Though most people will return to office work once the pandemic is over, it is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. This will cause less demand on the roadways.

 

<90%>90%100%

 

Between US-1 and I-95

AlternativeInner LoopOuter Loop
6-7AM/ 3-4PM7-8AM/ 4-5PM8-9AM/ 5-6PM9-10AM/ 6-7PM6-7AM/ 3-4PM7-8AM/ 4-5PM8-9AM/ 5-6PM9-10AM/ 6-7PM
Existing – AM10088971009898100100
Existing – PM1009399100949195100
No Build – AM (2025)10081971009795100100
No Build – PM (2025)1008480100918897100
No Build AM (2040)1007664969695100100
No Build PM (2040)92887762908696100
Alternative 5 – AM9982819597939597
Alternative 5 – PM919294689696100100
Alternative 8 – AM100919291969898100
Alternative 8 – PM9390949897949796
Alternative 9 – AM99919294999294100
Alternative 9 – PM9392969597949795
Alternative 10 – AM100909494999295100
Alternative 10 – PM9393979597949796
Alternative 13B – AM100909478999598100
Alternative 13B – PM9089959098949797
Alternative 13C – AM100959081979191100
Alternative 13C – PM9491989897939694

 

 

 

Between Greenbelt Station and US-1

AlternativeInner LoopOuter Loop
6-7AM/ 3-4PM7-8AM/ 4-5PM8-9AM/ 5-6PM9-10AM/ 6-7PM6-7AM/ 3-4PM7-8AM/ 4-5PM8-9AM/ 5-6PM9-10AM/ 6-7PM
Existing – AM10092961009895100100
Existing – PM100100100100929094100
No Build – AM (2025)10086961009592100100
No Build – PM (2025)1008989100827785100
No Build – AM (2040)1008469979593100100
No Build – PM (2040)100948077888384100
Alternative 5 – AM9983879696909494
Alternative 5 – PM91929473969510099
Alternative 8 – AM99929391979897100
Alternative 8 – PM9191949697939695
Alternative 9 – AM989092941009195100
Alternative 9 – PM9392969697929694
Alternative 10 – AM98809394999195100
Alternative 10 – PM9394979697929794
Alternative 13B – AM1009085801009398100
Alternative 13B – PM9090959297939696
Alternative 13C – AM99918779999394100
Alternative 13C – PM9392979897929693

 

Environmental Mitigation

Unavoidable impact to forest will be regulated by MDNR under Maryland Reforestation Law. When one acre or more of forest clearing is required, acre for acre replacement of forested areas must occur according to a mitigation hierarchy. The first priority is replanting available public land within the same county and/or watershed, then MDOT SHA would purchase credits in a forest mitigation bank, with the final option being payment into the MDNR Reforestation Fund at a rate of 10 cents per square foot of impact. The City and M-NCPPC are interested in seeing the replanting within the same watershed and M-NCPPC is preparing a map of properties that may be suitable for mitigation.

Stream restorations are proposed along two tributaries of Paint Branch west of the City boundary as shown in yellow below.

Two current fish passage blockages by I-495 will be removed on Paint Branch to allow for fish passage.

RECOMMENDATION

Based on staff review, the following is a preliminary list of proposed comments and requests for additional information recommended to be part of a response to the DEIS. A final response should be developed after discussion with Mayor and Council and the community.

  • Document the full costs of the project including the costs of adequate environmental mitigation and taxpayer dollars needed for the relocation of water and sewer infrastructure prior to selecting a Preferred Alternative.
  • Provide an analysis of impacts to potential induced traffic on arterial and collector roads (Route 1, MD193, Rhode Island Avenue).
  • Consider the effects of induced development as a result of the project.
  • Use the most current traffic data provided by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) to update the traffic forecasting models for the area proposed for Phase 2 construction.
  • Consider the impacts of the pandemic on traffic growth patterns and congestion through 2040 as many people may permanently transition to telework.
  • Consider the impacts of Autonomous Vehicles regarding quality of life and the acceptance of congestion.
  • Revisit an analysis of viable public transit options as well as transportation systems management (TSM) and transportation demand management (TDM) in regard to the Purpose and Need of the study.
  • Include bicycle and pedestrian crossings in the design to break down the barriers created by I-495.
  • Provide additional information to enable the full extent of impacts to parkland to be understood and how to make the park systems whole through mitigation.
  • Concern that the impacts to wetlands and streams is not fully documented and that local water quality will be further degraded and flood risks increased.
  • Share the results of the June 2019 stakeholder meeting held in College Park.
  • Clarify the access to the staging and storage area from the Polish Club property.
  • Provide more information about the proposed realignment of the entrance to the Greenbelt Metro Station.
  • Clarify any proposed changes to the intersection of US 1 and I-495.
  • Explain how social equity is being addressed when the high cost of managed lanes may be out of reach for lower income populations.
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