The MDOT has recently published a map showing the areas in College Park neighborhoods that will most likely be impacted by their proposed I-495 / I-270 expansion plan. In all of the alternatives, I found the following issues should concern us all.
- Loss of residential properties / property value: 18 homes on Niagara Rd and Odessa Road will lose part of their backyards. For neighbors on Ontario Road, the beltway will come right next to the street, potentially causing a significant loss of property values.
Loss of trees and green space: The green boundary in the map shows the “Limit of Disturbances”, indicating the areas which will most likely be used as a staging area during construction. The areas include (a) the SHA owned wooded area, and (b) more importantly, a very large parcel north of Edgewood Road (called Polish Club) property and (c) also a large City – Owned parcel at the end of Odessa Road in Sunnyside. It’s unclear whether the MDOT will acquire the Polish Club or Odessa Rd properties using eminent domain or lease them from the property owners. Regardless of the way the arrangement, the use of these properties for construction purposes mean loss of many trees in these parcels.
Increased Noise and Pollution: The beltway noise and pollution impact boundary line will go deeper into the neighborhood. The red dotted line shows the 66 decibel noise line. The neighbors living closer to the beltway will be experiencing noise with a higher decibel level.
- Construction delay or even loss of the proposed Sunnyside playground: The City has worked with the residents of the Sunnyside neighborhood (north of Beltway) over the past two years to build a playground on the City-owned property, at the end of Odessa Road. The City Council has allocated funds in the FY20 budget to build the park and we’ were expecting to start construction in a few months A large section of the playground has been proposed to be under the “Limit of Disturbance” area, meaning either delay or total loss of the project, depending on whether the area is leased or acquired through the eminent domain.
- Increased traffic on Route 1: With 4 lanes added to the beltway, we can expect more volume of traffic over the time, at all beltway exit roads , such as Connecticut Ave, Georgia Ave, New Hampshire ave, including Route 1 in College Park.Unfortunately , the Route 1 at the beltway intersection is already dysfunctional as motorists need to wait several traffic cycles at exit 25 on the ramp. Things can only get worse with increased volume on an expanded beltway.An increased traffic on Route 1 will also go against City’s long standing efforts to reduce traffic on Route 1 by exploring alternative modes of transportation, such as through the complete street project, and building more student housing close to the campus.
The College Park City Council discussed some of the impacts at this past Tuesday’s meeting. We plan to approve a letter to the Board of Public Works (BPW) at next Tuesday’s meeting. The BPW is set to meet and vote next month, most likely on June 5.
Please send your comments / concerns here. Also, please consider joining the resident advocacy group Cabe495 here. There’s also a petition going to the 3 members of the State Board of Public Works, which is scheduled to vote on Beltway expansion soon.