The State Highway Administration is finally acknowledging that some Cabin John homes adjacent to the Beltway will be “directly affected” by the state’s plan to add four toll lanes on I-495. In most cases, directly affected appears to mean homeowners could lose parts of yards and possibly see noise barriers constructed closer to their houses. But it also is possible the SHA could take homes.
Overall, the state’s latest analysis shows that the plan to widen the American Legion Bridge and I-495 from the bridge to I-95 – the so-called first phase of the 70-mile $9 to $11 billion Public Private Partnership (P3) Program – would require 34 homes and three businesses to be taken. The expansion also would directly affect up to 574 homes, 18 parks and recreation facilities, nine National Register Historical Properties, and impact some 575 acres of forest canopy, more than 280 acres of “unique and sensitive areas”, four acres of wetlands and 11 miles of “waters”. It is unclear what that means for all the green space in and around Cabin John.
These findings were released as part of a series of workshops being held in April and May to bring the public along as the P3 project moves into a new phase of more detailed study as part of the required Environmental Impact Study. Cabin Johners are urged to attend one of these workshops or to review the materials online and, most importantly, register your concerns before June 14 either online at 495-270-p3.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The SHA says it will use the feedback it gets as part of its effort to minimize environmental and community impacts.
This latest study comes just a couple weeks after eight SHA officials came to the March 27 CJCA meeting to detail the dire reality of congestion on the Beltway and to present the six alternatives for adding toll lanes to help keep the traffic moving. All six alternatives will be part of this next phase. The SHA aims to have its Draft Environmental Impact Study completed and a “preferred alternative” selected by early 2020.
An issue of concern to come out of the CJCA meeting was the SHA stating they are not doing a new noise analysis. Instead they will base this massive project’s noise modeling on extrapolated data from a Beltway noise analysis done in 2005. Decisions about where noise barriers are placed and how tall they are built are based on this noise modeling. Other attendees voiced concerns about increased noise and pollution for all of Cabin John, the unfairness of having traffic lanes that only the wealthy can afford to use, the lack of mass transit initiatives and the lack of information about the impact on arterial roads such as River Rd. and MacArthur Blvd.
State Delegate Marc Korman attended the meeting and provided an update on legislative initiatives to ensure proper oversight of a private entity controlling roads that were built with taxpayers’ dollars. Unfortunately, the legislative session ended without those measures passing.
By Susan Ship