SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration released the Environmental Impact Statement on widening beltways in Montgomery County.
The 18,000-page statement takes a close look at Governor Hogan’s plan to widen I-495 and I-270 announced back in 2017. The findings show multiple alternatives to the plan and outline the impacts the plan could have on the region’s air, water, parks, noise levels and traffic. The project is expected to cost roughly $11 billion. Environmentalists now say they are alarmed at the impact, calling it “vague.” Some believe the expansion is too big and could affect homes, wildlife, parks and residents’ overall quality of living.
Members of the Maryland Sierra Club and the Rock Creek Conservancy further explain why they believe this may be a high-risk project.
Jeanne Braha of Rock Creek Conservancy said, “It would impact the wildlife habitat in Rock Creek. It would also create a tremendous amount of additional stormwater into the creek, which would then flow downstream into the district.” Lindsey Mendelson of the Maryland Sierra Club stated, “We really need to focus on investments that create the co-benefits of protecting public health, creating more jobs and addressing historic inequities and this project would do the opposite.”
Public and agency comments on the plan will be accepted online from now and October 8th. There will also be in-person hearings in Prince George’s County on September 1st and in Rockville on September 10.