The proposed $10+ billion beltway expansion project reached an important milestone in July with the release of the much-anticipated draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Now it’s time for the public to submit comments, and Cabin John residents are being urged to raise their concerns before the Oct. 8 comment period deadline.
The close to 1,800-page draft DEIS includes traffic, environmental, engineering, and financial analyses of the six build alternatives, in comparison to the no-build alternative, along 48 miles of Interstates 270 and 495. The DEIS also describes existing conditions and anticipated impacts — as well as conceptual mitigation — to the community, environment, natural resources,
and cultural resources.
All of the six build alternatives retained and analyzed in the DEIS include the addition of two lanes in each direction on I-495, incorporating a dynamic tolling managed lanes network with either express toll lanes (ETL) or high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT). Build alternatives will also include new managed toll lanes on I-270 and the full replacement of the American Legion Bridge.
The CJCA has a number of ongoing concerns related to the beltway expansion that have been shared with state officials and local agencies over the past 12 to 18 months. These concerns include property takings, noise and air pollution, stormwater runoff, arterial road congestion, loss of parkland, and the negative impacts on our cultural resources, such as the Moses Hall and Cemetery site, Gibson Grove Church, and the C&O Canal. A number of Cabin John neighbors in the Evergreen subdivision are expected to be directly impacted.
In its 63-page analysis of the DEIS, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which owns significant park land along I-495, criticized the DEIS for underestimating
its impact on natural, cultural, and recreational resources, and not taking into account local traffic considerations. The review also raised major concerns about its assessment of stormwater treatment, saying that the stormwater management “approach presented in the DEIS is insufficient and ignores decades of degradation that the existing highways have inflicted on local land.”
Many in the region are questioning the need for this expensive project in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation patterns. MDOT SHA touches on this in the DEIS, but is clearly committed to moving forward with what they consider long-range transportation improvements.
CJ RESIDENTS PLEASE SUBMIT COMMENTS!
With the years-long construction slated to take place at our doorstep and the project’s possible impact on neighborhood park lands and the historic African American properties in our community, now is the time for Cabin Johners to educate themselves and voice their opinions about this project. The full DEIS, including all technical reports, can be found at: https://495-270-p3.com/deis/. The county’s planning department analysis is available at https:/montgomeryplanningboard.org/i-495-and-i-270-managed-lanes-study/. The state will be holding four online and two in-person public hearings between August 18 and September 10.
Cabin John residents are urged to submit comments at one of the public hearings, on the DEIS comment form, via email to MLSNEPA-P3@mdot.maryland.gov, or by letter to: Lisa Choplin, DBIA, I-495 & I-270 P3 Program Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Office, 707 North Calvert Street, Mail Stop P-601, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Whichever way you choose to comment, it is most impactful if you share a copy of your comments with County Executive Marc Elrich and members of the County Council, as well as our state delegates and congressional delegation. Contact information for all of these folks are available in the PDF below.
BY CHARLOTTE TROUP LEIGHTON
CJCA Vice President for Advocacy