Volume 1, Number 1
Welcome to the first issue of DontWiden270’s Bulletin to share current information on Governor Larry Hogan’s I-495 & I-270 P3 Program with individuals and communities along the I-270 corridor.
State Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve discussed their opposition to widening the footprint of I-270 in the Rockville area during the District 17 send-off event on Sunday, January 6th to discuss legislative priorities. Check out video of the whole event, or some of Senator Kagan’s and Delegate Barve’s remarks on the issue.
Senator Kagan and Delegate-elect Palakovich-Carr wore DontWiden270 badges during the District 17 send-off event on January 6th.
Governor Hogan announced this public-private partnership (P3) in September 2017 to address congestion on I-270 and I-495. The proposed P3 Program would include developments on over 70 miles of I-495 and I-270 in Maryland; some of the options include widening I-270 by as many as four lanes. Not only would this devastate the neighborhoods where homes could be paved over to make room for additional lanes, studies repeatedly show that widening highways is ineffective at addressing congestion long-term. This P3 Program does not seriously consider other options, such as mass transit.
Want to help ensure our homes and neighborhoods are protected from Governor Hogan’s highway plans? We need you! DontWiden270.org is an all-volunteer effort. If you can help with any of the following, please let us know at email@example.com:
Website updates (posting new information) and website improvements (such as adding capacity that makes it easier for people to take action.)
Educating people in your neighborhood about what’s going on.
Research to help us better inform the public, media and elected officials. There’s lots to look into and information to organize about the highway planning process, specific proposals the state is continuing to examine, and fact-checking claims and statements about the issue.
Identifying opportunities to pressure Governor Hogan, Secretary Rahn and other elected officials to make sure the highway isn’t physically widened.
December 19, 2018: The Maryland Board of Public Works awarded a $90 million contract to Maryland Traffic Relief Partners to provide comprehensive engineering and support services for the Project. The contract was approved by Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot but Treasurer Nancy Kopf abstained stating she remained skeptical about the possible environmental impacts.
December 17, 2018: Maryland State Delegation Bill Hearing. Delegate Al Carr (District 18) presented his bill MC 8-19, which would require authorization from Montgomery County before any state agency could acquire or construct any toll road, highway or bridge in Montgomery County. Eighteen citizens and organizations – including DontWiden270.org founder Pete Altman testified in support of the bill; five people, including some tied to the road building lobby, testified against the bill. A subcommittee of the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee will meet January 15th to discuss the bill.
December 13/14, 2018: The Maryland Department of Transportation(MDOT) presented a Business Project Plan at an international industry forum and held one-on-one meetings with potential concessionaires and contractors interested in the P3 Program.
December 11, 2018: MDOT submitted a Pre-Solicitation Information Report to the Board of Public Works to hire a private firm to design, build, operate and maintain toll roads on I-495 and I-270. MDOT is currently considering delivering the P3 Program as a series of long-term design-build-finance-operate-maintain revenue risk concessions. Each concession would encompass a portion of the I-495 and I-270 P3 Program and be solicited in phases. MDOT’s estimate for the Project has increased from $9 billion to $11 billion.
The National Policy Environmental Act (NEPA) is a federal environmental law to evaluate the needs, benefits, and potential environmental impact of federal actions. NEPA is being addressed for this Project through an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Notice of Intent on March 16, 2018 to prepare the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lane Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The EIS study is expected to be completed by Fall 2020.
The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) issued a report on October 31, 2018 concluding that environmental impacts will not be considered in the EIS because the proposed timeline for selecting the Preferred Alternative is scheduled to occur before the draft EIS is completed.
The M-NCPPC report also expressed concern that the Managed Lanes Study Area encompasses many sensitive environmental features and any build alternative that accommodates lane expansion along the existing highway network will significantly alter or completely eliminate the functionality of these environmental features.
February 2019: MDOT to release “Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study” (ARDS), which will identify the selected designs for toll lanes or alternatives.
Spring 2019: MDOT expects to identify its Preferred Alternative.
Fall 2020: A final EIS and Record of Determination will be released by MDOT.
Public workshops are planned for Winter 2019 to present the Screened Alternatives and detailed analysis.
What You Can Do:
Our homes and neighborhoods are threatened by Governor Hogan’s plan to widen I-270 and I-495. State officials have repeatedly provided conflicting and evasive responses to public inquiries. Our representatives in the Maryland General Assembly need to hear from you. There are many issues for Legislators during the 90-day session, and we need to make sure Governor Hogan’s highway project is at the top of their list. Maryland's 17th district (sections of Rockville and Gaithersburg) is represented by Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegates Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist, and Julie Palakovich Carr. Refer to the list of legislators by County and District for other legislative districts. Please contact your State representatives and let them know how critical it is that they make this issue a priority in the current legislative session, which begins January 14th.
Show support for the City of Rockville Mayor and Council, who have vigorously advocated for Rockville property owners. The December 30th Rockville Reports lists under priorities approved by the Mayor and Council, ensuring that no Rockville homes, businesses or infrastructure are taken by the proposed project to widen I-270.
Please share information about DontWiden270 with friends and neighbors who live along the I-270 corridor and Citizens Against Beltway Extension (CABE) for those who live along I-495. Ask them to join the mailing lists and stay informed.
Contact DontWiden270@gmail.com if you have questions or comments on the issues presented in this newsletter.