More than 300 people attended a Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration workshop to get an update on plans to relieve Beltway and I-270 traffic congestion Wednesday, July 25 at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda.
Wednesday’s meeting was the last of four public meeting in July to discuss stage two of the five-part plan to study needs and alternatives, analyze environmental and technical alternatives, develop an environmental impact statement and make a final decision on improving the I-495 in the state and I-270 from its connection with I-495 north to I-70.
The planning process began this spring with “Scoping,” the announcement of the intent to study the traffic problem and open a 45-day comment period.
“We were really pleased,” Cathleen Gillen, a spokesperson with the State Highway Administration, said about the number of attendees. “These are the people who sit in the traffic.”
With the scoping stage complete, Lisa Choplin, project director of I-495 & I-270 P3 O and Jeff Folden, deputy director, provided an update on the status of the study and presented a preliminary list of alternative congestion solutions along with a list of screening criteria for evaluating the alternatives.
This five-part plan is a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) recommended process, one which requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of their proposed actions.
Fifteen proposals were provided at the meeting offering a range of lane additions and shifts according to traffic flow and considering the use of rail and bus. They can be viewed at https://495-270-p3.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/julyworkshops_widescreen.pdf
Maryland has the second highest commuting time in the nation — after New York. Marylanders spend 32:3 minutes, on average, commuting to work, according to MDOT website https://495-270-p3.com.
The top five highest volume freeway sections in Maryland are within study areas where, on average, severe congestion lasts for 7 hours each day on I-270 and 10 hours each day on I-495 according to MDOTSHA.
Comments are still being taken for the range of alternatives and can be emailed to 495-270-P3@sha.state.md.us; by calling toll free at 833-858-5960 or by mail at Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration I-495 & I-270 P3 Office 707 North Calvert Street Mail Stop P-601 Baltimore, MD 21202.
Gillen said MDOTSHA encourages citizen input, questions or comments.
The whole of the presentation at Pyle Middle School can be found at: https://495-270-p3.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/julyworkshops_widescreen.pdf.