I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study
Joint Federal/State Application (JPA)
Date Published July 15, 2022
The public comment period on the JPA for the Alteration of Any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) originally extended from August 1, 2022 to September 29, 2022. The comment period was extended until October 28, 2022.
MDOT SHA submitted a Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of Any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland, also known as the Joint Federal/State Permit Application (JPA) for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study. The JPA is a permit application to the federal government (US Army Corps of Engineers) and Maryland State government (Maryland Department of the Environment) for authorization to impact regulated wetlands, wetland buffers, waterways, and the FEMA 100-year floodplain to construct the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study. The JPA application package includes a summary of efforts to avoid and minimize impacts to these resources, the resulting unavoidable impacts, and a compensatory mitigation package of wetland and stream creation/restoration sites to compensate for the impacts by improving existing wetlands and waterways or creating new resources.
JPA INFORMATION: The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) have received and are evaluating the JPA as described below for Department of the Army authorization pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 U.S.C . 403); and State authorization pursuant to Title 5, Subtitle 5 (Waterway Construction) and Title 5, Subtitle 9 (Nontidal Wetlands) of the Environment Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.
Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
Attn: Mr. Jeff Folden
601 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
LEAD FEDERAL AGENCY: The Federal Highway Administration, as the lead federal agency, is responsible for all coordination pursuant to applicable federal authorities.
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The proposed project is located in the Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008) and Middle-Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan (02070010) HUC-8 watersheds in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia.
I-495 & I-270 MANAGED LANES NEPA STUDY PROJECT PURPOSE: The purpose of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Study is to develop a travel demand management solution(s) that addresses congestion, improves trip reliability on I-495 and I-270 within the project limits and enhances existing and planned multimodal mobility. The needs for the Study are:
- Accommodate existing traffic and long-term traffic growth;
- Enhance trip reliability;
- Provide additional roadway travel choices;
- Accommodate movement of goods and services; and
- Accommodate homeland security
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The project limits include: I-495 from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, including improvements to the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac River, to east of MD 187 on I-495, and 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. These are the project limits for Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South, the Preferred Alternative chosen for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study. Please see the tables below for a summary of aquatic resource impacts for the Preferred Alternative.
On I-495, the Preferred Alternative would consist of adding two new High-Occupancy Vehicle Toll (HOT) managed lanes in each direction from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to west of MD 187. On I-270, the Preferred Alternative consists of converting the one existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction to a HOT managed lane and adding one new HOT managed lane in each direction on I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370 and on the I-270 east and west spurs. There are no improvements proposed at this time on I-495 east of the I-270 east spur to MD 5. Along I-270, the existing collector-distributor (C-D) lanes from Montrose Road to I-370 are proposed to be removed. The managed lanes are proposed to be separated from the general purpose lanes using flexible delineators placed within the buffer. Transit buses and HOV-3+ vehicles would be permitted to use the managed lanes toll-free. The Preferred Alternative also proposes a full replacement of the American Legion Bridge with a new, wider bridge to accommodate the two HOT lanes in each direction, and will also include a shared use path to provide bicycle and pedestrian connection between Maryland and Virginia. Additional information about the Preferred Alternative can be found in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Off-site and on-site stormwater management will be constructed to meet stormwater requirements and mitigation/restoration sites will also be constructed to meet National Park Service and Maryland-National Capital Parks (M-NCPPC) and Planning Commission mitigation requirements. The following tables reflect the impacts from the Preferred Alternative, and off-site stormwater management.
USACE Anticipated Direct Effects On Regulated Aquatic Resources For The Preferred Alternative (Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South):
|Preferred Alternative||Impact Type||Stream Impact||Stream Impact||Wetland Impact|
|Sq. Ft.||Ac.||Linear Ft.||Sq. Ft.||Ac.|
Alternative 9 –
MDE Anticipated Direct Effects On Regulated Aquatic Resources For The Preferred Alternative (Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South):
|Preferred Alternative||Impact Type||Stream Impact||Stream Impact||Wetland Impact*||Wetland Buffer Impact||Floodplain Impact|
|Sq. Ft.||Ac.||Linear Ft.||Sq. Ft.||Ac.||Sq. Ft.||Ac.||Sq. Ft.||Ac.|
Alternative 9 – Phase 1 South
*The project will permanently impact 0.86 acres (37,346 square feet) of forested nontidal wetland, 0.01 acres (481 square feet) of scrub-shrub nontidal wetland, 2.64 acres (115,107 square feet) of emergent nontidal wetland, and temporarily impact 0.22 acres (9,666 square feet) of forested nontidal wetland and 0.26 acres (11,454 square feet) of emergent nontidal wetland.
APPLICANT’S PROPOSED AVOIDANCE, MINIMIZATION, AND COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: Impacts to wetlands, their buffers, waterways, and the FEMA 100-year floodplain are being minimized to the greatest extent practicable at this stage of the project. Avoidance and Minimization will continue throughout the design process. Design revisions were made to avoid and minimize direct impacts to natural resources including:
- A substantial reduction in project scope resulting in a 60% or greater reduction in roadway work and a 70% or greater reduction in impacts to wetlands and waterways;
- Elimination of the collector-distributor system on I-270;
- Preliminary alignment shift designs;
- Alterations to preliminary roadside ditch and grading designs;
- Additions to preliminary retaining wall designs to minimize the roadway footprint;
- Revisions to preliminary ramp designs, construction access areas, preliminary stormwater management (SWM) facility locations, and sound wall locations;
- Relocations of preliminary managed lane access locations
- Revisions of proposed SWM facility locations; and
- Targeted avoidance and minimization of the Potomac River and Plummers Island, Thomas Branch, and other major stream crossings to the greatest extent practicable.
The Preferred Alternative includes a substantially revised project scope. The Preferred Alternative project limits include: I-495 from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, including improvements to the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac River, to east of MD 187 on I-495, and 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 original project limits included: I-495 from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, including improvements to the American Legion Bridge over the Potomac River, to west of MD 5 in Maryland and along I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370, including the east and west I-270 spurs. Work which was proposed on I-495 east of the I-270 east spur to MD 5 has been removed from the project scope resulting in a 70% or greater reduction of impacts to wetlands, waterways, and Waters of the U.S.
Additionally, the Preferred Alternative would completely avoid significant stream valley parks including Rock Creek, Northwest Branch, Sligo Creek, Southwest Branch, and Henson Creek Stream Valley Parks, as well as historic parks of national significance including the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Greenbelt Park, and Suitland Parkway.
Wetland mitigation requirements in Maryland and Virginia were developed using Corps and MDE standard practices. For the Preferred Alternative, the MDE mitigation requirement in Maryland is 4.38 acres of wetland mitigation and 7,400 functional feet of stream mitigation; and the Corps mitigation requirement in Maryland is 4.28 acres of wetland mitigation and 7,511 functional feet of stream mitigation. Several mitigation opportunities were explored including on-site mitigation for open channels, mitigation banking, in-lieu fee programs, and off-site permittee-responsible mitigation on public and private lands. Two permittee-responsible mitigation sites were chosen for the Final Compensatory Mitigation Plan based on their potential for functional uplift, construction feasibility, proximity to the study area, mitigation credits, and replacement of lost functions and values resulting from roadway improvements.
The two chosen mitigation sites include the Cabin Branch Stream Restoration and Wetland Mitigation Site (RFP-2) and the Unnamed Tributary to Great Seneca Creek Stream Restoration Site (CA-5). Both mitigation sites are located in the Middle Potomac-Catoctin HUC-8 (02070008) watershed in Montgomery County. Construction of the proposed wetland and stream mitigation sites would temporarily impact 0.08 acres (3,515 square feet) of forested nontidal wetland, 0.11 acres (4,889 square feet) of emergent nontidal wetland, 0.63 acres (27,430 square feet) of 25-foot nontidal wetland buffer, 11,860 linear feet (349,178 square feet) of perennial channel, 322 linear feet (2,126 square feet) of intermittent channel, and 27.03 acres (1,177,631 square feet) of 100-year floodplain. Of the temporary wetland impacts, approximately 0.03 acres (1,172 square feet) of forested nontidal wetland and 0.05 acres (2,378 square feet) of emergent nontidal wetland at the CA-5 Mitigation Site require replacement and will be replaced in-kind on-site. All other temporary impacts will be restored. Mitigation will include restoring approximately 721 functional feet of stream at the Unnamed Tributary to Great Seneca Creek Stream Restoration Site (CA-5) and restoring approximately 5,149 functional feet of Cabin Branch and restoring approximately 4.38 acres (190,793 square feet) of nontidal wetland, enhancing 0.01 acres (653 square feet) of nontidal wetlands, and enhancing 0.16 acres (7,115 square feet) of nontidal wetland buffer at the Cabin Branch Stream Restoration and Wetland Mitigation Site (RFP-2). The remaining 1,530 functional feet of stream mitigation requirement will be satisfied through purchase of credits from an approved Mitigation Bank.
The National Park Service and M-NCPPC will require additional mitigation/restoration for impacts to park properties. Construction of the proposed park mitigation projects would temporarily impact 2.44 acres (106,485 square feet) of forested nontidal wetland, 0.77 acres (33,500 square feet) of 25-foot nontidal wetland buffer, 915 linear feet (34,153 square feet) of perennial channel, 657 linear feet (4,779 square feet) of intermittent channel, and 4.71 acres (205,225 square feet) of 100-year floodplain.
401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) Request
Pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, MDOT SHA is requesting a Water Quality Certification for I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study Phase 1 South. Because a separate Water Quality Certification is being requested from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for the portion of Phase 1 South within their jurisdiction, this request is only for the Maryland portion of Phase 1 South. As required by 40 C.F.R. § 121.5 and Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 26.08.02.10, the Water Quality Certification request includes project-specific information for the key elements required by the Maryland Department of Environment. Some of the specific details in this document regarding the current design (e.g., stormwater management, culverts) are subject to change as project designs are refined over the course of the design process, but any mitigation required will be provided by final design.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District (Corps) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) joint public informational hearings provide members of the public the opportunity to present views, opinions, and information that will be considered by the Corps and MDE in evaluating the Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland (JPA) proposed for the project. As part of the public comment period, the purpose of the hearing(s) is for the Corps and MDE to receive oral or written comments that will enable them to evaluate the impacts of the proposed project on the public interest. All interested parties, including representatives of Federal, State, and local governments and private individuals and organizations, are invited to be present or to be represented. Each will be given an opportunity to express their views regarding the proposed project. One in-person hearing was held on Thursday, September 8, 2022, and one virtual hearing was held on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
Public Hearing Information
The In-Person Public Hearing for the JPA was held on Thursday, September 8, 2022. Please click below for additional information:
In Person Hearing Information
MDE/USACE In-Person Public Hearing for the JPA
IN-PERSON PUBLIC HEARING DATE AND LOCATION: One in-person public hearing was held from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM, with a poster session starting at 5:30 PM on Thursday, September 8, 2022. The hearing location was at the Hilton Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.
The hearing was transcribed and hearing transcripts are available here.
Virtual Public Hearing
MDE/USACE Virtual Public Hearing for the JPA
VIRTUAL ONLINE PUBLIC HEARING DATE AND LOCATION: One virtual public hearing was held from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM, with a virtual poster session starting at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
The hearing was transcribed and hearing transcripts are available here.
View the Permit Documents
The documents that comprise the JPA, WQC, and the USACE/MDE Public Notice follow:
View the JPA
Impact Plates and Tables
Mainline Impact Plates and Tables
Compensatory Stormwater Impact Plates and Tables
Final Compensatory Wetlands and Waterways Mitigation Plan
Wetland Delineation Memoranda
View the WQC
Permit Document Availability
Hard copies of the documents that comprise the JPA and WQC packages are available for review in multiple locations in Montgomery County, as well as one in Fairfax, Virginia and one in Washington, D.C. from July 15, 2022 through September 29, 2022.
View the JPA and WQC Document Locations
MONTGOMERY COUNTY LIBRARIES
18330 Montgomery Village Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
Quince Orchard Library
15831 Quince Orchard Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Rockville Memorial Library
21 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
6400 Democracy Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20817
Kensington Park Library
4201 Knowles Avenue
Kensington, MD 20895
Chevy Chase Library
8005 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Silver Spring Library
900 Wayne Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
White Oak Library
11701 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20904
FAIRFAX COUNTY LIBRARY
Dolly Madison Library
1244 Oak Ridge Avenue
McLean, VA 22101
WASHINGTON D.C. LIBRARY
Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library
7420 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20012
SUBMISSION OF COMMENTS
The USACE and MDE are soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the USACE to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors. Comments provided will become part of the public record for this action and are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. Comments are also used to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
For MDE, only those issues subject to regulation by the MDE Nontidal Wetlands and Waterway Construction Divisions (impacts to nontidal wetlands, wetland buffer, and waterways, including the 100-year nontidal floodplain) will be considered in rendering a decision to grant or deny the MDE Permit. Future public notices on the application will be included on the MDE website: (https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/WetlandsandWaterways/Pages/MLS_I-495_I-270.aspx) and sent via certified mail to any newly identified adjacent property owners and sent via regular mail to the Interested Persons List. Please refer to Subsection 5-907 of the Annotated Code of Maryland or the Code of Maryland Regulations 26.23.02 for information regarding the application process.
Written comments concerning the work described above related to the factors listed above or other pertinent factors must be received by the USACE, Baltimore District and MDE within the comment period specified above through postal mail at the addresses below or electronic submission to the project manager email address below. Comments should reference the USACE Application Number (NAB-2018-02152) and the MDE Tracking Numbers 20-NT-0114 / 202060649.
General information regarding the USACE permitting process can be found on the following website: www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory.aspx.
General information regarding the MDE Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways permitting process can be found online at the following web address: https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/WetlandsandWaterways/Pages/index.aspx
If you have any questions concerning this specific project, please contact the individuals listed above.