Cabin John Speaks Out on Beltway Expansion Impacts

The Cabin John Citizens Association and two CJ residents testified Sept. 3 at a virtual hearing to provide comments on the possible environmental impacts of Governor Hogan’s massive plan
to expand I-495 and I-270 using variablepricing toll lanes.

This was one of six public hearings collecting oral comments on the 19,000-page draft environmental impact statement for the project. Speakers were given three minutes for their statements.

Charlotte Troup Leighton of Cypress Grove Lane spoke on behalf of the Evergreen community, which backs up to the Beltway. There are 27 homes on Cypress Grove Lane, and a number of them would be directly impacted as the expansion plan is currently defined. (See Charlotte Troup Leighton’s testimony.)

In addition to expressing general concern about the project being ill-conceived and fiscally irresponsible, Charlotte raised very specific issues with the lack of detail in the plan when it comes to stormwater management, the effectiveness and placement of noise barriers, and the harmful effects on the neighborhood of living through years of construction.

Charlotte also expressed opposition to a flyover access ramp that looks to be located on part of the Moses Hall & Cemetery property, which is also off Cypress Grove Lane.

Kara Cunzeman, also of Cypress Grove Lane, spoke to some of the same issues. “We ask that a more detailed plan be put together that mitigates negative consequences to our properties, local wildlife, and the environment during and after the construction,” she said. (See Kara Cunzeman’s testimony.)

Kara also called the plan a “complete failure of innovation” that does not address the root of the congestion problem and contributes to climate change.

Speaking on behalf of the Cabin John community, CJCA President Susan Shipp said it stands with the Evergreen families in opposition to property takings and the flyover access ramp. She also stressed the need for effective noise barriers and stormwater management. (See Susan Shipp’s testimony.)

She also said it is unacceptable that the Moses Hall & Cemetery property, including grave locations, are identified as “adversely impacted” by the expansion plans.

Susan’s testimony raised a number of concerns about the projected traffic impacts both during construction and in the longer term. Traffic analysis in the 19,000-page draft environmental impact statement indicates that both River Road and the Clara Barton Parkway will see a greater than 10% increase in delay with managed lanes on I-495. She also noted the lack of documented impacts on Cabin John’s local roads, including Persimmon Tree, Seven Locks Rd., and MacArthur Blvd.

She said, “The impacts to these roads must be thoroughly evaluated in the final EIS and mitigation incorporated through improvements to these roadways and policies to reduce their levels of traffic congestion.”

The CJCA, Evergreen neighborhood, and Friends of Moses Hall and Cemetery will now shift their focus to putting together more extensive written comments, which must be submitted by Nov. 9. If there are community members willing to help with this effort, please contact Charlotte Troup Leighton or Susan Shipp.

Individual community members are also encouraged to submit written statements.

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/.

Cabin John residents are urged to submit written comments 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

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