Several north College Park homes are at risk because of the Beltway expansion plan

Starting this week, the MDOT SHA will be hosting a series of public workshops to present its plan to widen the section of I-495 Beltway and I-270 highways.

Officials from the MDOT SHA will be out at these eight workshops  to “sell” the proposed plan about the traffic, environmental, and financial analyses for the recommended “Screened Alternatives along with the recommendations for the alternatives to be retained for detailed study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement”.

The project, dubbed as the ‘Traffic Relief Plan,’ seeks to have the state partner with a private company to expand capacity on I-270 and the Maryland portion of the Beltway by adding toll lanes at “zero cost” to the state.

Though the original plan stated that it would not claim any private homes, recent comments from some officials suggest that is the best case option. Several homes along beltway, including as many as 45 homes in north College Park are at risk. Many north College Park residents are also worried about the indirect impact due to increased noise and pollution.

Advocacy groups like Cabe495 are working with residents to take their concerns to the MDOT.

The City of College Park has been opposing the expansion plan and has asked the MDOT to look into alternative transportation option to ease traffic. I, personally, testified with our concerns at the regional transportation meeting.

MDOT wants to fund construction of four new lanes on the Beltway and I-270 through the use of public-private partnerships, financing arrangements in which private-sector firms provide up-front monies in exchange for the right to collect tolls on the new lanes, for up to 50 years. Existing lanes would remain free.

The College Park City Council recently supported House Bill 1091 — a legislation that would require additional assessments of the environmental and financial impact of the proposal. That bill was approved by the House of Delegates 96-42 on March 18 but the Senate has been slow to move.

Map of I-495 and I-270 map showing the sections that might be widened (MDOT-SHA)