I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study
New Recommended Preferred Alternative to Deliver
Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370
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 as the new Recommended Preferred Alternative (RPA) for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS). The new RPA 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 eastern spur.
In late summer 2021, FHWA and MDOT SHA will issue a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for Alternative 9: Phase 1 South for public and agency comment. Consistent with Alternative 9 in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) published in July 2020, the RPA, Alternative 9: Phase 1 South, proposes adding two HOT managed lanes in each direction from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to east of MD 187 on I-495. On I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370 and on the I-270 eastern spur from east of MD 187 to I-270, the new alternative proposes adding one HOT managed lane and converting the existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane into a HOT managed lane, 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 study’s combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD).
Who can use the HOT Lanes?
In the Alternative 9: Phase 1 South RPA, 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 New RPA
The new RPA 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 new RPA will provide significant pedestrian and bicycle commitments to improve the connectivity of area sidewalks and trails, including the addition of a multi-use trail on the new American Legion Bridge across the Potomac River.
This RPA does not suggest that improvements will not be needed on the top side and east side of I-495. If the new RPA is selected at the conclusion of the MLS, consideration of improvements to remaining parts of the interstate system would advance separately, subject to additional environmental studies, analysis and collaboration with the public, stakeholders and agency partners.