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Category: Transportation Page 2 of 15

Beltway Expansion Plan East of I-270 is Off the Table – for Now

Thanks to the continued advocacy of our residents, the beltway expansion plan in College Park and east of I-270 is off the table – at least for now! MDOT first tried to expand the beltway in our area in phases 2 and 3 before, but, thankfully they are now nixing any lane expansion in the eastern portion of I-495 and I-270. Let’s continue to advocate for a smart, multi-modal, 21st-century transportation system for our region.
See more on the Bethesda magazine, and in

MAGLEV High Speed Train Project’s Comment Period Has Been Extended to May 24

The comment period for the Draft Programmatic Agreement (PA) for the Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMAGLEV) High-Speed Rail Project has been extended to Monday, May 24, 2021.
Earlier this month, FRA and MDOT MTA announced the schedule for the public hearings for the SCMAGLEV DEIS. The hearings will be held virtually in consideration of COVID-19 protocols, as follows:
•           Tuesday, April 6, 2021 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
•           Thursday, April 8, 2021 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
•           Saturday, April 10, 2021 – 10 a.m. to Noon, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
More information on the virtual public hearings can be found here. A press release from MDOT detailing the comment period extension has been posted to the project website, here.

City Council to Weigh In on Two State Bills Opposing Maglev Project

At next week’s Council meeting, the College Park City Council will consider two State bills about the SCMaglev project.

The Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMAGLEV) Project is a proposed Maglev train system between Baltimore City and the District of Columbia, with an intermediate stop at the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. In 2016, MDOT was awarded $27.8 million in federal funding to conduct the required Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS was published last month and January 2022. The environmental impact of the proposed maglev route is of concern to many people, as is the likely cost of the project. Additional information about the project can be found here on the Baltimore-Washington SCMAGLEV Project website:

The State bill SB 188 / HB 63 would prohibit the State (and instrumentalities of the State) from using any appropriation, with some exceptions, for a magnetic levitation (maglev) transportation system in the State. Maryland has been interested in evaluating a maglev system since 2001. The General Assembly has restricted funding at various times during this period.

The Council will also consider supporting Letter of Support HB 704 Emergency Bill- Maryland Stop the Maglev Act of 2021.

The City Council plans to discuss the project at a future work session and will consider taking its position on the project.

College Park Woods Connector Trail is Now Open

The College Park Woods Connector Trail is finally open to the public.

The trail will serve as an important connection between West College Park with North College Park, as it connects the trail that goes up to Home Depot, and branches off to the North College Park Post Office. The trail continues on at least to Powder Mill Road, in Beltsville.

Please see the map below.

According to the project’s website, this important trail is a half-mile connector across the University of Maryland land between the neighborhood of College Park Woods and the Paint Branch Trail. This trail project will link a residential community in the City of College Park with the University of Maryland campus and the Anacostia Tributaries Trail System. It will increase bicycle safety by providing a car-free bicycling and walking alternative to busy Metzerott Road and an at-grade crossing of University Boulevard.

The project scope includes easements across public institutions and private property, a boardwalk across wetlands, wayfinding signs, and advanced-practice shared roadway markings.

Thanks to the County Council member Danielle Glaros, former Council member Eric Olson (District 3), the M-NCPPC, the City of College Park, and the UMD for making this trail a reality.

City will Ask Not to Delay Purple Line Construction

At tonight’s meeting, the Council will consider sending a letter to Governor Hogan expressing the City’s concerns that additional delays in completing the Purple Line will negatively impact the City. The State and the Purple Line concessionaire have been in a major cost dispute for many years.

The concessionaire gave notice that it will quit the project if an agreement is not reached. A court recently ruled that the concessionaire can, in fact, terminate the contract if it chooses. The State has indicated if an agreement cannot be reached with the concessionaire, the State will complete the project.

However, the project would likely be delayed another one to two years. It is not clear if the parties are still engaged in negotiations to reach an agreement that would have the concessionaire complete 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:

City to Oppose MARC Train Service Cuts

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced on September 1, 2020, a range of proposed service reductions in response to decreases in transportation revenue because of COVID-19. According to MDOT, the proposal would affect approximately 3.6% of riders and would go into effect on January 3, 2021.

In late August, MARC passenger volume was still down 55% compared to a year earlier. The College Park and Greenbelt stations are served by MARC line services. The federal CARES Act funding that has enabled MDOT to maintain services will likely be fully expended in September 2020. The following Camden line MARC services are proposed to be discontinued: Eastbound from Union Station: Trains 844 (morning) and 848 (afternoon) and Westbound from Dorsey Station: Train 855 (afternoon).

The Maryland Transit Authority will hold 10 virtual public hearings for Local Bus between October 5 and October 16 about the proposed changes as part of a 30-day public review and comment period that ends November 15.

MARC and Commuter Bus public hearings and effective dates will be announced this fall. At this week’s meeting, the Council will consider sending a letter to MDOT on behalf of the City expressing opposition to the proposed MARC service cuts.

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

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.

I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study DEIS Public Hearings

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) have completed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study. Six Joint Public Hearings will be conducted to hear testimony on the DEIS and the Joint Federal/State Application (JPA) for the Alteration of Any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland.

The Public Hearing brochure and the Public Hearing online presentation, featuring a narration of virtual display boards, are now available on the Program website. You may also pick up a Public Hearing brochure at any location where a hard copy of the DEIS is available for review. Note that the content of the online presentation can be translated into other languages on the web page; translated versions of the DEIS Executive Summary are also available on the Program website.

Comments on the DEIS and JPA must be submitted between July 10 and October 8, 2020. The public comment period may be extended 30 days. Please visit the Program website,, for updates. All comments received, whether at the hearing through oral testimony or through other methods (comment form, email, and letter) will be given equal consideration. Learn ways to comment on the DEIS and JPA here.
Managed Lanes Study In-Person Public Hearings’
COVID-19 Social Distancing Protocols
In an effort to safeguard the public and staff, individuals considering attending the in-person Public Hearings on September 1st and September 10th should follow the “everyday preventative actions” as established by the CDC.

A reminder that in-person hearings are by appointment only and participation at virtual hearings is encouraged. The following procedures and social distancing protocols have been developed in adherence to CDC guidelines; facility occupancy and admittance requirements; and in coordination with MDOT SHA and the State of Maryland. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

While at the Public Hearing:
Wear face coverings at all times.
Remember to social distance, at least 6 feet apart.
Sanitize your hands upon arrival and frequently throughout your time at the hearing. Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the hearing spaces.
Follow all signage and direction from staff which is designed to adhere to capacity requirements and support social distancing.

MDOT SHA has worked with all facilities to ensure adherence to State guidelines regarding capacity and other related safety protocols.

Additionally, staff will disinfect all hearing materials and equipment before and after each hearing. A Hearing Health and Safety Officer has been designated for all hearings. Questions or concerns can be directed to the hearing registration area.

[State’s Highway Administration]

Council to Support Bill Ensuring More Oversights on Private – Public Partnership Projects

At next week’s meeting, the College Park City Council will consider sending a letter in support of the House Bill HB 1424 – Public–Private Partnerships – Process and Oversight

HB 1424 would establish a Public-Private Partnership Oversight Review Board and require state agencies to submit pre-solicitation reports, the environmental impact statement, and other documents related to a proposed public-private partnerships (P3) exceeding $500 million to the Review Board and certain budget committees.

If passed, the bill would allow greater oversights on large capital projects, such as the I 495 beltway expansion projects using the Public-Private partnerships.

The Review Board would be comprised of appointees by Speaker of the House, the President of the Senator, the Governor, the Comptroller, and the Treasurer. It would review public-private partnership pre-solicitation reports and make recommendations to the budget committees and the Board of Public Works regarding the designation of a public infrastructure asset as a public-private partnership. If the Board of Public Works designates a project as a public-private partnership, the budget committees have one year to
review and comment on the designation.

HB 1424 would also require independent rating agencies to conduct a rating assessment for every contract under a large P3 agreement before the Board of Public Works can vote on it. Finally, the bill would expand the existing ‘no-compete’ requirements to ensure local governments can add roads, transit, and other options for commuters that may compete with P3 toll roads without having to pay a penalty or get the P3 company’s permission. Current law only affects state-funded transportation projects.

This bill is designed to ensure that more project information is available to the public before the Board of Public Works can vote to support a P3 project. The Governor has proposed large P3 transportation projects and members of the General Assembly and residents are concerned about the process.
[City of College Park]

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