Transportation Board Will Not Conduct Environmental Analysis of 270, 495 Road Widening Project

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board voted Wednesday to remove the I-270 and I-495 express lanes from its Air Quality Conformity Analysis, following a request from the Montgomery County Executive’s office.

Now that the planning board will not conduct an environmental study of this project, Maryland will have to submit a revised plan if it wants to receive an environmental seal of approval, Councilmember Evan Glass explained following the meeting.

Gary Erenrich, special assistant to County Executive Marc Elrich, made the motion to remove the project. The county “has substantial concerns” with the road widening project, Erenrich said during the meeting. It believes that traffic congestion could be better alleviated in a less costly way that is more environmentally friendly and includes mass transit and not express toll lanes, he said.

Last month, the Maryland Department of Transportation announced that reduced plans to widen the Beltway. The work will end at the 270-495 spur and will not continue east through Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.

The updated plans call for building a new American Legion Bridge and two high occupancy toll lanes in each direction from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to east Maryland 187 on 495. On 270, from 495 north of 370 and on the one 270 eastern spur from 187 to 270 , there will be high occupancy toll lane added in each direction. No work is planned on 495 East of the 270 spur.

During the meeting, Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton spoke out strongly against the state’s plan, noting the P-3 Partnership “is not ready for prime time.” She added, “This project does nothing to move our region forward, not in social justice, not in environmental justice and not the way we should be going.”

Also during the meeting, Glass received unanimous support for his motion that requires all transportation projects as of 2023 to include an environmental impact study.

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