Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Maryland's Big Highway Widening Project Released

The state of Maryland is moving forward with a highway widening plan that would spend $11 billion in a private-partnership to add toll lanes to two Capital Beltway highways.

Read Time: 2 minutes

July 15, 2020, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Highway Widening

Maryland Department of Transportation / I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes Project

"The state of Maryland has released its long-awaited draft environmental impact assessment for the Hogan administration’s controversial Beltway expansion project," reports Margaret Barthel.

The environmental review for a plan that would widen parts of I-495 and I-270 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties totals 18,000 pages. The project would add new highway capacity by adding express toll lanes or high-occupancy toll lanes, and the estimated $11 billion price tag would be covered in part by a public-private partnership.

According to Barthel, the study argues that the project would mitigate worsening traffic congestion and meet the demands of expected population growth. 

The report reduced the number of alternatives on the table from 15 to seven, but all the remaining project alternatives are likely to have significant impact, according to Barthel's explanation of the report. 

But all seven options would have significant environmental impact, the study determined. In all seven, more than 140 acres of public parks and historic sites could be affected, as could more than seventy acres of wetland. Close to 1,400 acres of forest canopy would be cleared, damaged, or disturbed.

Under all seven options, about 34 residential homes and four businesses would have to be relocated. More than 4,000 noise-sensitive land areas–like homes, schools, churches, and parks–could be impacted by the sound of the expanded highway.

More on the response of critics, who have voiced vocal opposition to the project before, is included in the source article.

Friday, July 10, 2020 in DCist

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Tacoma, Washington with Mount Rainier in background

Tacoma Developing New Housing Policy

The city’s Home in Tacoma plan is designed to address the region’s growth and rising housing prices, but faces local backlash over density and affordability concerns.

46 minutes ago - The Urbanist

Green alley under construction

A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

1 hour ago - Curbed

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in La Habra, California at sunset

Orange County Project Could Go Forward Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The nation’s largest home builder could receive approval for a 530-unit development under an obscure state law as the city of La Habra’s zoning laws hang in limbo after the state rejected its proposed housing plan.

2 hours ago - Orange County Register