Another public workshop about the proposed widening of Interstates 270 and 495, hosted by the Maryland State Highway Administration, will be held this Thursday, April 25 from 6:30 to 8:30PM at Thomas S. Wooten High School at 2100 Wooten Parkway.
Some New Mark residents have expressed concern about the potential impact any widening of I-270 will have on the community, including a possible decline in property values and increased traffic noise. A residents’ committee is planning to draft a letter for the New Mark Homes Association Board to consider sending to the state government about the proposed widening following the Wooten session.
A map posted by the State shows the expansion could have noise and property encroachment in the immediate area off Exit 5 on I-270 adjacent to New Mark Commons. (Click the link and zoom in on the Exit-5 area. A legend provided with the map explains the various potential impacts.) You can also view a pdf here.
The last meeting on April 13 in Rockville followed the release of a report by the state’s Department of Transportation that estimated as many as 34 homes along the Beltway could be taken under eminent domain. Some 1,500 others on both the Beltway and I-270 could lose portions of their property.
Many local residents have voiced their preference for improved public transit over highway expansion.
But Lisa Choplin, the Highway Administration’s director for the project, was quoted in Bethesda Magazine recently as saying all the state’s traffic studies concluded that transit was “not the answer” to relieving congestion.
The state is considering several options for the expansion. According to the Washington Post, the two options that found the greatest travel time savings and other benefits include four toll lanes on each highway. On I-270, the existing single high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes would be converted to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and an additional HOT lane would be built in each direction. The other would add two express toll lanes in each direction on both the Beltway and I-270, in addition to retaining the HOV lanes on I-270.