October 21, 2020
Major concerns regarding permits, potential effects on parkland, environment, and transportation remain
WHEATON, MD – The governing body of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) received a briefing from M-NCPPC staff on the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s (MDOT SHA) Interstates 495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study during its online meeting on Wednesday, October 21. M-NCPPC staff raised several serious deficiencies in the plans for the project to the M-NCPPC commissioners, who comprise the Planning Boards of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The main issues are with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), as well as concerns related to applications for joint permit applications (JPA) to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment for impacts to wetlands, streams, and other aquatic resources under the Maryland Clean Water Act.
The virtual meeting was streamed live and consisted of a briefing to the M-NCPPC commissioners on the major concerns related to impacts to M-NCPPC parkland resources and the environment as well as the lack of best practices in land use and transportation planning. Staff stressed that M-NCPPC is obligated to hold MDOT SHA to the highest standards to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any impact to parkland resources, and MDOT SHA must demonstrate that the proposed plan to expand the two major highways is the most appropriate way to address congestion in region.
The final comments from M-NCPPC are scheduled to be transmitted to MDOT SHA on November 6, 2020 and will become a part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) which will ultimately need to be followed by the winning concessionaire, if the project progresses.
“The state’s project team is still not delivering on what it promised with the assessment and analysis phase of this project. We cannot agree with the direction of the Managed Lanes Study until our land use, transportation, and environmental concerns are addressed, and that just hasn’t happened despite months of trying to get answers,” said M-NCPPC Chair and Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson.
“As the regional planning agency and the steward of the natural and built environments in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, M-NCPPC is responsible for making well-reasoned and informed decisions with regard to any impacted parkland, including the cultural and historic resources held in trust for the residents of both Counties,” said M-NCPPC Vice-Chair and Prince George’s County Planning Board Chair Elizabeth Hewlett.
Summary of M-NCPPC Major Issues:
Anticipated NEPA and Procurement Schedules:
The I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study was initiated by MDOT along I-495 (Capital Beltway), as well as along I-270 (Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Highway). Managed lanes consist of a highway facility or set of lanes where operating strategies are used to control the number of vehicles using the lanes at any given time. Any selected build alternative is likely to have significant impacts on parkland and the associated facilities, programs and natural and cultural resources in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties as well as on communities in those counties. Learn more about the MDOT SHA Managed Lanes Study. M-NCPPC’s project coordinators for the Managed Lanes Study are Carol Rubin for Montgomery County and Debra Borden for Prince George’s County.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is a bi-county agency empowered by the State of Maryland in 1927 to acquire, develop, maintain, and administer a regional system of parks within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, and to provide land use planning for the physical development of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. In addition, the agency gained responsibility for the public recreation program in Prince George’s County in 1970.
The governing body of M-NCPPC consists of 10 members, five appointed by Montgomery County and five by Prince George’s County. The commission coordinates and acts on matters of interest to both counties, and meets at least once a month. The members of the commission from each county serve on separate county planning boards to facilitate, review, and administer the matters affecting their respective counties.