Key Planning Agency Rejects Maryland Highway Widening Proposal

A plan to widen interstates 495 and 270 failed a critical step on the way to approval, in a decision likely to lead to a lawsuit when the Maryland Department of Transportation settles on a final plan.

1 minute read

October 26, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Highway Widening

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

"The planning agency that serves Montgomery and Prince George’s counties on Wednesday formally rejected the state’s plan for widening the Capital Beltway (I-495) and Interstate 270," reports Bruce DePuyt.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject the plan. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project has been available for public comment since the summer, but the original idea for the plan dates back to 2017 and it’s the brainchild of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

"Because the commission is a 'cooperating agency' in the formal process for obtaining needed land and environmental permits, the vote is a potential complicating factor for the state’s push to add four 'express toll lanes' to the two highways," according to DePuyt.

The members of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission explained their opposition to the plan in line with the criticisms of the plan since 2017: namely, that the plan fails to account for the land use, transportation, and environmental consequences of the proposal. The source article includes a more detail list of objections.  

"The Maryland Department of Transportation is expected to select a final design for the project next May," according to DePuyt. "The commission’s objections will likely form the basis of a legal challenge to the state’s decision, lawyers familiar with the National Environmental Policy Act said."

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in Maryland Matters

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