At various stages of the project, the M-NCPPC, through its Montgomery County Planning Department, Montgomery County Department of Parks, Prince George’s County Planning Department and Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, will review study process, analysis, and any potential environmental and community impacts of alternatives proposed to address congestion within the specific study area. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) released its Recommended Preferred Alternative (RPA) on January 27, 2021, and on May 12, 2021 announced it was amending the RPA.
MDOT SHA initially announced their RPA for the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 expansion, which would add four total high-occupancy toll lanes—two HOT managed lanes in each direction of I-495 from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia across the American Legion Bridge (ALB) to west of MD 5, and on I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370. On I-270 the alternative would add one HOT lane and convert the highway’s existing HOV lane, which serves as a free lane except at peak travel times for three hours each day into a HOT lane, resulting in a network of two managed HOT lanes in each direction. With the revised RPA, MDOT SHA has determined that there will be no action on I-495 east of Old Georgetown Road, including from both the I-270 eastern spur and from the I-495 split travelling north and east from the ALB. Any further consideration of that area will require a new NEPA Study.
In summary, the new RPA for the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 expansion under the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study will be limited to the area designated as Phase 1 South as defined by MDOT SHA. That would add four total high-occupancy toll lanes—two HOT managed lanes in each direction of I-495 from the south side of the American Legion Bridge (ALB) to Exit 36, MD 187- Old Georgetown Road, and on I-270 from I-495 to I-370, including that portion of the east spur from I-270 to Old Georgetown Road. On I-270 the alternative would add one HOT lane and convert the highway’s existing HOV lane, which serves as a free or general purpose lane except at peak travel times for three hours each day into a HOT lane, resulting in a network of two managed HOT lanes in each direction. Transition onto the general-purpose lanes will occur at each termini except where the HOT lanes extend into Virginia.
As a result of this change, MDOT SHA is currently preparing a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for publication in September/October 2021 with a 45 day period for additional public comment and a virtual public hearing. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the Record of Decision (ROD) will be jointly published in April 2022. The M-NCPPC is in the process of reviewing the details of the revised RPA in anticipation of responding to the SDEIS for alignment with NEPA requirements and best practices. Its findings will be issued to the public as soon as they are available.