Federal Government Delays Decision on I-495, I-270 Toll Lanes Project

On Friday, the federal government decided to delay action on the road widening plan that includes managed toll roads along I-270 and parts of I-495. According to a permitting dashboard, an Environmental Impact Statement was intended to be released by Aug. 5. 

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is continuing to work with the Maryland Department of Transportation on the I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes Study. There have been strong feelings about this project and it is FHWA’s responsibility not to pick a side, but to ensure that the NEPA process is followed with integrity. This includes completing a thorough review of comments received to ensure public feedback is adequately addressed as we work toward finalizing a Record of Decision for this project,” a FHWA spokesperson told MyMCM in an email. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich told MyMCM Thursday that Gov. Larry Hogan’s intended plan is a bad project and he hoped the federal government would acknowledge it as well.

“We have seen transportation demands dramatically shift since the onset of the pandemic. With these shifting demands, it’s time our investments in infrastructure address the needs of all residents, not just those who own personal vehicles,” Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker said in a statement. “Instead of emphasizing road development and highway widening to accommodate personal vehicles, we need more sustainable, multigenerational improvements in infrastructure that enhance connectivity and prioritize accessibility of public transit. And it is imperative that these projects pass climate and equity tests.”

Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement urging U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to reverse the FHWA’s decision to delay the State of Maryland’s Traffic Relief Plan for the American Legion Bridge and the Capital Beltway

“We were completely blindsided by this action, particularly given that every comprehensive analysis we submitted had already been reviewed and approved by the agency. In fact, only a few weeks ago, the agency’s professional experts praised our study as a model for other states,” Hogan said. “If action is not taken to immediately rectify this improper decision, we are prepared to use every tool at our disposal—up to and including legal action. While we do not want it to come to that, these reckless and apparently politically-motivated actions may leave us with no other choice.”

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