I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study
Preferred Alternative to Deliver Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370
On May 12, 2021, after several months of continuous collaboration and listening to agency partners, public officials and stakeholders, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) have identified Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, as the Preferred Alternative for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS). The Preferred Alternative focuses solely on building a new American Legion Bridge and delivering two high occupancy toll (HOT) managed lanes in each direction on Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, with no action at this time on I-495 east of the I-270 east spur to MD 5.
On October 1, 2021, FHWA and MDOT SHA issued a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 for public and agency comment. The Preferred Alternative, Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370, proposes adding two HOT managed lanes in each direction of I-495 from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to east of MD 187. On I-270, the Preferred Alternative consists of converting the one existing HOV lane in each direction to a HOT managed lane and adding one new HOT managed lane in each direction from I-495 to north of I-370 and on the I-270 east and west spurs, resulting in a network of two HOT managed lanes in each direction.
MDOT SHA and FHWA continue to consider all comments that were received as part of the DEIS and public hearings held last fall and continue to work with agencies and stakeholders to avoid and minimize impacts to the environment and the communities in the study area. The agencies will respond to substantive comments received on both the DEIS and the SDEIS in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Who can use the HOT Lanes?
In the Preferred Alternative, existing general purpose travel lanes throughout the corridor will be retained and will remain free for use by all motorists. Drivers with less than three occupants in the vehicle would only pay if they choose to use the HOT lanes. HOV3+ will allow carpools, vanpools and other vehicles carrying three or more people to travel faster and more reliably in the new HOT lanes free of charge any time of day. Buses and motorcycles also will be granted free passage on the new HOT lanes free of charge, providing opportunities for a faster, more reliable trip.
Benefits of the Preferred Alternative
The Preferred Alternative will address existing traffic and long-term traffic growth, enhance trip reliability, provide additional travel options and improve the movement of goods and services within Phase 1 South. This Preferred Alternative will provide pedestrian and bicycle commitments to improve the connectivity of area sidewalks and trails, including the addition of a pedestrian and bicycle shared use path on the new American Legion Bridge across the Potomac River.
While the Preferred Alternative does not include improvements to the remaining parts of I-495 within the Study limits, improvements on the remainder of the interstate system may still be needed in the future. Any such improvements would advance separately, and would be subject to additional environmental studies, analysis and collaboration with the public, stakeholders and local agencies.