For an overview of common terms you see on this page, check out the Terminology section.
Op Lanes Maryland is the largest initiative in the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s (MDOT SHA) Traffic Relief Plan (TRP). The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study is the first element of Op Lanes Maryland. The Study will determine the potential improvements for the study corridors, evaluate environmental impacts associated with those improvements, and seek public feedback on the study’s key components.
OP LANES MARYLAND
What is Op Lanes Maryland?
Op Lanes Maryland is the largest initiative in Maryland’s Traffic Relief Plan (TRP) and includes all of I-495 and I-270 in Maryland. As shown on the map below, the limits of Op Lanes Maryland feature more than 70 miles of interstate, from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, including all of I-495 in Maryland to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and all of I-270 from I-495 to I-70, including the east and west I-270 spurs.
Is transit being considered as part of Op Lanes Maryland?
Yes. Op Lanes Maryland includes significant improvements and provides new opportunities for transit. Op Lanes Maryland is part of the National Capital Region’s long-range transportation plan that includes almost twice as much investment in transit as in roads between now and 2045.
A Managed Lanes Transit Work Group was formed to determine how MDOT and local transit agencies can work together to enhance transit services on the proposed managed lanes on I-495 and I-270 and create an interconnected transit/highway system. MDOT collaborated with counties affected by Op Lanes Maryland, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counites; counties which may benefit from the proposed managed lanes, Anne Arundel, Charles, and Howard counties; and regional agencies and transit service providers, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), and MDOT MTA over a 10-month period to identify potential improvements to provide new opportunities for transit in the National Capital Region. The result of this effort is captured in the Transit Service Coordination Report, which is intended to inform discussions with the affected counties as MDOT works collaboratively to identify regional transit service improvements within the framework of Op Lanes Maryland.
Potential improvements identified by the Transit Work Group will provide new opportunities for transit including improved bus operating speeds and reliability and service for underserved suburb to suburb transit markets. New options to access existing and proposed transit through new access will also be provided. Without managed lanes, these new travel choices and opportunities are not possible due to the significant congestion on I-495 and I-270.
Why not use state funds to build out this infrastructure if it is so desperately needed?
State funding does not exist for Op Lanes Maryland. There are insufficient funds in the Transportation Trust Fund to finance this infrastructure. One of the benefits of the public-private partnership delivery model is that the private sector is able to obtain financing to invest in the state’s infrastructure, in return for the revenue generated through a P3 Agreement. The goal of Op Lanes Maryland is to provide congestion relief to the region at no net cost to the State’s transportation funding.
What are Pre-NEPA Activities?
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal law that directs federal agencies to conduct studies to ensure proper consideration of the environment prior to undertaking a major federal action.
The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), of Op Lanes Maryland and in coordination with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is now conducting Pre-NEPA planning activities for potential congestion relief improvements on I-270 from I-370 to I-70, which include:
- identifying the purpose and need;
- developing a range of alternatives;
- reviewing the existing and future traffic volumes, and existing environmental conditions; and
- engaging the public in the Pre-NEPA planning activities.
The Pre-NEPA effort will conclude with a summary report of engineering, traffic, and environmental activities, as well as input received from the public. These preliminary activities may result in the initiation of a NEPA study. Decisions made during these early activities will be applied toward any NEPA environmental review process.
How are the Pre-NEPA Activities related to Op Lanes Maryland?
I-495 & I-270 MANAGED LANES STUDY (MLS)
What is the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS)? How does it relate to Op Lanes Maryland?
The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study is the first environmental study* of Op Lanes Maryland. The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study includes 48 miles of proposed improvements along I-495 from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Fairfax County, Virginia to west of MD 5 in Prince George’s County, Maryland and along I-270 from I-495 to I-370 in Montgomery County, Maryland, including the east and west I-270 spurs. Future independent environmental studies under the P3 Program are planned to be undertaken along I-270 from I-370 to I-70 and along I-495 from MD 5 to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which will be coordinated with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
*The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study includes the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as other resource protection provisions. The EIS will evaluate the potential improvements to the corridor and the related environmental impacts.
What is the purpose of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study and what does it include?
The purpose of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study is to study alternatives that address congestion, improves trip reliability on I-495 and I-270 within the study limits and enhance existing and planned multimodal mobility and connectivity.
Why does Op Lanes Maryland extend to I-70 and the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study ends at I-370?
In establishing the limits of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study, MDOT SHA considered logical termini and independent utility including that the limits be useable if no additional transportation improvements are made and that the limits have rational beginning and end points within the larger Op Lanes Maryland. The limits have been broadly established considering major points of traffic generation, travel patterns and usage such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-370, and MD 5.
Transportation improvements along the northern portion of I-270 from I-370 up to I-70 present a relatively different set of traffic generation, travel patterns, and usage from the MLS. While these Study limits are part of Op Lanes Maryland, it is clearly separate from a logical termini and independent utility perspective. I-270 from I-370 to I-70 Pre-NEPA Activities are underway.
What is the timeline for the environmental study (NEPA) process for the MLS?
The NEPA process for the EIS developed for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study officially began with the Notice of Intent, which was published in March 2018. Throughout this process, MDOT SHA has been engaging the public and recording input through extensive public and stakeholder meetings. Public comment is an important part of NEPA and is invited in various ways including mail, e-mail, workshop comment cards and online comment forms and finally at a series of Public Hearings. The FHWA and MDOT SHA have been seeking and obtaining input from federal, State and local regulatory agencies to inform the development of alternatives, environmental analyses, and identification of measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts. A Draft EIS summarizing the traffic, financial and environmental analyses will be published for public review followed by a series of public hearings. The NEPA process, under the MLS, will conclude with a Final EIS and a ROD. Please click here for the current MLS schedule.
Who benefits from managed lanes?
In the case where there are both managed lanes and general purpose lanes, all travelers on the highway system and the local area network benefit from managed lanes. Managed lanes improve highway operations and provide the driving public, as well as transit riders, with reduced congestion, trip reliability and improved safety.
Users of managed lanes should anticipate congestion-free and reliable speed conditions.
Transit users will receive the benefits of increased reliability and congestion free trips. Managed lanes can significantly improve transit travel times and transit system reliability that have limited regional express-bus services utilizing the congested general purpose lanes. Travelers who choose to pay a toll in the new priced managed lanes will experience reliable and reduced travel times. Travelers who continue to use the free (general purpose) lanes will also see reduced travel times as seen along the I-495 and I-95 High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes in Virginia and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) north of Baltimore.
What are some of the anticipated benefits of managed lanes in the National Capital Region?
In addition to more efficiently moving traffic through the corridor, managed lanes would provide all travelers the following benefits:
- An improved American Legion Bridge, a known regional bottleneck
- New bridges and smoother pavements for all travelers at no cost to the Transportation Trust Fund
- Reduced travel times on the local roadway network
Transit riders and transit service will experience the following benefits:
- Buses using these corridors will have reduced travel times, providing a benefit to transit riders
- Enhanced transit mobility and connectivity to existing and planned transit stations and facilities
- Improved highway system will provide less-congested and more reliable routes for bus service
- Direct and indirect access to existing transit stations and transit-oriented developments will be included at Greenbelt, New Carrollton, Branch Avenue, Largo, Kensington MARC/Medical Center, Montgomery Mall, Twinbrook, Silver Spring, and Shady Grove Metro stations
- Provides opportunities for new and modified express bus service in the National Capital Region, such as between Bethesda and Tysons and New Carrollton to points south
Will there be a toll and what will the toll rates be?
The MDOT SHA has been studying multiple congestion-relief solutions, including tolled and non-tolled alternatives. If high-occupancy toll lanes or express toll lanes are selected as the preferred alternative, the public will have a voice in setting the toll rates. Separate toll hearings would be held by the Maryland Transportation Authority to present, discuss, and take comments on toll rates in an open, public process.
What is the difference between High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and Express Toll Lanes (ETL)?
- ETL's are dedicated managed lanes that motorists may use by paying a variably priced toll.
- HOT lanes are also dedicated managed lanes, but they allow for free usage or reduced tolls when a vehicle has a minimum number of occupants.
- Both ETLs and HOT lanes operate with dynamic pricing , enabling the system to flow much more efficiently, allowing more vehicles and people to move through the same physical space.
- When HOT lanes or ETLs are used, existing general purpose lanes remain free to all users.
How are High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes and Express Toll Lane (ETL) fees assessed and charged per vehicle in real time? Does it depend on cameras, prepaid passes, etc.? Will there be monthly billing?
Tolling equipment (cameras, transponder readers, etc.) installed on gantry structures would allow tolls to be collected without vehicles stopping. The tolls would be dynamically priced to ensure that the managed lanes are meeting a consistent congestion free reliable trip. Options for tolling may include electronic toll collection (ETC) either by use of a transponder, or by use of video tolling of a license plate, where the user would receive a bill after using the facility.
How is Op Lanes Maryland different from I-66 ITB (Inside the Beltway) with high tolls?
There are a few key differences:
- Single-occupancy vehicles were not allowed on I-66 ITB during peak periods, prior to the new tolls going into effect, and no new lane capacity was added when this change was made. I-66 ITB was a mostly two-lane (each direction) interstate highway with HOV (2+) use on peak directions of eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon.
- This changed to managed lanes full time, while allowing the existing general purpose lanes to remain free and open to all users, including single-occupancy vehicles.
- The I-66 ITB project has no general purpose lanes alongside the High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. If you are not an HOV or toll paying commuter, you must use alternate roadways. MDOT SHA proposes to continue to have general purpose (free) lanes alongside any priced managed lanes, allowing users to have a choice along the same corridor.
Have Managed Lanes worked elsewhere?
Yes. express toll lanes on I-95 north of Baltimore were added, the general purpose lanes saw a 12% reduction in delay
- In Virginia, trends show a 7% reduction in travel time on the I-495 northbound free general purpose lanes in the morning peak time and a 15% reduction in travel time on I-95 southbound general purpose free lanes in the evening peak time over the last 5 years
- On I-95 in Florida where express toll lanes were added (4 general purpose lanes + 2 Express Lanes), the Express Lanes maintain a greater than 55 mph speed while the general purpose lanes improved from 19 mph to 41 mph during the evening peak
Why do some people call Managed Lanes “Lexus Lanes”?
The ‘Lexus-Lane’ claim has been dismissed by studies based on actual user data that shows users of all income levels benefit from reduced travel times, including managed lane users and those who continue to use the general purpose or toll-free lanes. Managed lane usage is not closely correlated to income. The managed lanes that we are studying would provide more options for people needing a reliable trip time. Nationwide research shows a majority of travelers choose to use price managed lanes occasionally for critical or important trips, such as reaching an appointment or a school event.
Experience in Virginia on I-495 and I-95 shows most users spend less per month on tolls than they do on a single tank of gas. Most trips cost less than lunch at a fast, casual restaurant. The Washington Post reported in 2018: “…most 495 and 95 express users are not affluent…. About 60 percent of the frequent users said they have household incomes of less than $100,000…” Also, according to a Washington Post report, the average toll rates for Virginia’s managed lanes on I-495 and I-95 are $5.40 and $8.45 per trip, respectively. Experience in Virginia on I-495 shows that 82 percent of customers spend less than $20 a month and 85 percent of trips were less than $12. On the Virginia I-95 Express Lanes, 74 percent of customers spend less than $20 a month.
Can Managed Lanes Help Reduce Greenhouse Gases?
Managed lanes allow for free-flowing travel. If you average anywhere between 35 and 65 miles per hour in a trip, the average carbon emissions per mile traveled barely changes at all. However, the situation is quite different when congestion causes travel speeds to drop below those levels.
What are the future steps in the environmental study (NEPA) process for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study?
The Final EIS is the next step of the NEPA process. It focuses on any refinements of the data presented in the Draft EIS relative to the MDOT Recommended Preferred Alternative that are deemed necessary for completing the evaluation. It will include the Preferred Alternative after considering all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. Following the Final EIS, MDOT SHA and FHWA will prepare the Record of Decision to complete the NEPA process.
What is the difference between a Draft EIS and a Joint Permit Application (JPA)?
A Draft EIS is a document, prepared per the National Environmental Policy Act, for a project when the proposed action will have significant environmental effects. A range of reasonable alternatives and their potential impacts are analyzed. A JPA is used to apply for permits from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment for the alteration of any floodplain, waterway, and tidal or nontidal wetland within the limit of disturbance of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study. This application is submitted pursuant to the requirements of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), Sections 26.17 and 26.23, and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Is there a physical barrier or otherwise limited access to the High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and Express Toll Lanes (ETL)? If so, on I-495 how frequently can a vehicle change from toll to general purpose lanes? Will lane selection occur only at existing exits/entrances to the Beltway?
While preliminary studies are ongoing, the alternatives being evaluated all include access to the HOT lanes or ETL alternatives to be limited to direct access ramps at interchanges or defined locations along the mainline. The HOT lanes or ETL alternatives being evaluated are proposed to be separated from the general purpose lanes by a buffer with flexible posts, similar to what is currently on parts of I-495 in Virginia where VDOT’s Express Lanes exist.
What determines if my property is needed?
A variety of elements contribute to the need for additional property outside of MDOT SHA’s property. These elements include roadway construction, grading, clearing, landscaping, stormwater management, and noise barrier replacement/construction. Adjacent property would be needed in areas where MDOT SHA right-of-way is limited and where these elements cannot be located elsewhere.
What are my rights related to property acquisition?
How far in advance will I know that my property is needed?
MDOT SHA will advise you well in advance of actual negotiations. A letter will be mailed to you explaining that your property will be appraised and you have the right to be present.
What will I be paid for my property if it is needed?
MDOT SHA will offer fair market value of your property, which will include just compensation for the property needed. Relocation assistance is a separate benefit that is provided if the owner is eligible.
Will I be compensated for indirect impacts, such as noise or decline in property value for my property?
MDOT SHA can only provide compensation as part of the property acquisition process. However, we will work with you to address concerns related to any possible effects on your property.
How have we reduced potential property needs?
MDOT SHA has attempted to stay within existing ROW to the extent possible to avoid and/or minimize potential property needs from residents and businesses.
Design and engineering options were analyzed where potential property impacts were identified. Efforts to reduce the potential impacts included reducing grass and grading areas next to the roadway, adding retaining walls, modifying interchange ramp designs, adjusting direct access locations, shifting the centerline alignment, and locating stormwater facilities underground.
How will we continue to reduce potential property needs?
MDOT SHA has identified reasonable measures to reduce potential property needs as part of the preliminary design for NEPA. As this process moves forward, MDOT SHA is committed to working with residents and businesses to identify approaches that could further reduce potential property needs or mitigate any effects to property.
More importantly, MDOT SHA will engage and incentivize the private sector through innovation to reduce property needs.
Why would MDOT SHA consider using a Public-Private Partnership (P3)?
Reasons for utilizing a Public-Private Partnership include:
- Projects Constructed Faster: P3 projects can move forward when the State does not have available funding because the private sector finances the improvements based on future funding or revenue. It would take more than 25 years to fund Op Lanes Maryland congestion relief improvements relying on State funds and would use all of MDOT’s capital expansion budget for this one program.
- Transfer of Risks: The State and the private sector share the risks based on who can best manage each risk to provide the best value to the State.
- Operations and Maintenance: The State can benefit from having the private sector operate the highway and maintain it (for example, pavement repairs, grass mowing) at a more economical cost. Without Op Lanes Maryland, it is estimated that MDOT will need to invest $1.7 billion in bridge replacement/rehabilitation and pavement rehabilitation over the next decade simply to just maintain the existing roadways on I-495 and I-270 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in a state of good repair, with no congestion relief.
- Limited Government Funding: Projects, including P3 projects, that include a future revenue source may be constructed with limited or no governmental funding upfront. In fact, Op Lanes Maryland has a goal to implement the Program at no net cost to the State.
Is P3 the same as privatization?
No. The State will retain ownership of the new facility and its highway improvements and be responsible to ensure the facilities meet their public function throughout the life of the agreement. When the agreement ends, all the assets will be returned to the State in a pre-agreed condition.
What is the scope of work for the private entity selected for the P3?
The private sector entity selected for the P3, referred to as the Phase P3 Developer, will provide preliminary development services, which may include development of design and schedule, supporting MDOT in community outreach and engagement, further minimizing impacts to property, communities, and environmental resources, developing detailed cost estimates and traffic and revenue studies, creating financing arrangements, and developing regional transit services that are being coordinated with Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The Phase P3 Developer will be responsible to develop a proposal compliant with requirements of the Phase P3 Agreement where they can design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the managed lanes system for a particular section of the phase with no net cost to the State and non-recourse debt to the State. Once environmental and BPW approval has been received, the Phase P3 Developer will move forward with final design and construction on that particular section.
How will the State select the Phase Developer?
The Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which initiates the solicitation process to select a Phase Developer for Phase 1 of Op Lanes Maryland, was issued on February 7, 2020.
The most highly qualified teams to respond to the RFQ, as determined by MDOT / MDTA, have been shortlisted based on their experience, qualifications and past performance in successfully delivering similar projects and on their financial capability.
To select a Phase 1 Developer, the shortlisted proposers will be evaluated on their approach and alignment with addressing our high-level goals of relieving traffic congestion, minimizing impacts, and accelerating delivery all at no cost to the State of Maryland. We also will consider their innovative ideas in advancing these goals, including how they will work collaboratively with the communities and local stakeholders and further minimize property impacts.
How is the state allowed to select a private company using the P3 delivery model concurrently with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); doesn’t that mean you’ve already decided on a solution?
The solicitation process will select a Phase Developer to assist MDOT with preliminary development and design activities, which is allowable under federal regulations. An environmental decision document under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will be approved before final design and construction will commence on any portion of Phase 1.
The P3 solicitation is being done concurrently, yet separate from, the remaining work to complete the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS), as it allows MDOT to move forward expeditiously with the solicitation when such study is complete. In the event that priced managed lanes are not part of the recommended preferred alternative, this solicitation will not proceed.
The P3 solicitation milestones will align with the MLS schedule, which is being conducted in accordance with NEPA, to maximize efficiency in delivery of congestion relief while ensuring the integrity of the NEPA process.
How does the private sector partner make its money?
The private sector partner will receive its compensation through revenues generated from tolls. If the managed lanes do not create enough revenue to sustain the private sector's investment, the private sector investment will be at risk and non-recourse to the State.
Is there the risk that the private sector partner or the project will go bankrupt? Would bankruptcy result in potential additional costs to the State?
The private sector partner could go bankrupt during the term of the project. In such circumstances, bankruptcy would not give rise to any liability to the State for additional costs arising from the bankruptcy.
As shown in the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) January 2020 report, “Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation and Water Infrastructure,” while a few toll projects have declared bankruptcy, there are no cases where the taxpayers bailed out the private investors. For instance, when the private partner for the State Highway 130 (SH 130) project, which was a new tolled highway in Texas, filed for bankruptcy, the equity investors lost their investment and the lenders and bondholders attained ownership in the private company in the restructuring that emerged from the bankruptcy settlement. There was no bailout from Texas state taxpayers and the road continued to be open in an uninterrupted manner for usage by the traveling public.
Furthermore, it is important to differentiate between the bankruptcy risk for a managed lane project versus a fully tolled highway facility. Whereas fully tolled facilities have declared bankruptcy in the past, this has not been the case for managed lane projects.
PHASE 1 REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS (RFQ)
What is the RFQ and how does it start the solicitation process?
The Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which initiates the solicitation process to select a Phase Developer for Phase 1 of Op Lanes Maryland, was issued on February 7, 2020. The RFQ provides an overview of the scope and status of Op Lanes Maryland, specific requirements such as BPW conditions, an overview of the solicitation process, and qualifications sought in potential Phase Developers. The release of the RFQ is an opportunity for potential Respondents to examine the scope and conditions to determine if they would like to be considered as a Phase Developer candidate.
What the RFQ is NOT…
- The RFQ is NOT the selection of a Phase Developer. That step would come later (see “Solicitation” section below for an overview of this process).
- The RFQ is NOT a Request for Proposals. That step would come later.
- The RFQ is NOT an indication that all final approvals for Op Lanes Maryland have been granted. Additional reviews and approvals from the Board of Public Works (BPW) are required at various stages, including the Phase 1 P3 Agreement (see below).
- The RFQ is NOT an indication that environmental reviews have been completed. The NEPA process is ongoing. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared and will be the subject of public hearings this spring (see below).
- The RFQ is NOT a signal that land acquisitions may begin. The P3 designation approved by the BPW stipulates that no property may be acquired before the NEPA process is complete and the Phase 1 P3 Agreement is approved by the BPW.
- The RFQ is NOT an indication that decisions have been made on the transit benefits that will be included in the Phase 1 P3 Agreement. Extensive outreach and collaboration with local partners will be conducted before MDOT reaches memoranda of understanding with affected counties, which will be part of the agreement requiring BPW approval.
What is Phase 1?
- Phase 1 of Op Lanes Maryland includes improvements on I-495 from the vicinity of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, across and including the American Legion Bridge (ALB) to the I-270 west spur, and the I-270 west spur from I-495 to I-70.
- I-495 from the vicinity of the George Washington Memorial Parkway to the I-270 west spur, and the I-270 west spur to I-370, will be delivered first.
- The section of Phase 1 for I-270 from I-370 to I-70 is undergoing a separate environmental review process and will be delivered after the section of I-270 between I-495 and I-370.
What is the scope and phasing for the RFQ released on February 7? Will it be all of Phase 1 or can it be broken up?
- The RFQ will identify the teams most highly qualified to provide preliminary development activities and the potential future improvements under Phase 1.
- The RFQ covers all of Phase 1; however, Phase 1 may be broken down into smaller Sections for design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance to allow the Phase Developer to successfully and efficiently deliver the improvements. The final design and construction for any Section cannot proceed until an environmental document has been approved covering the limits of the specific Section, and a Section P3 Agreement is approved by the Board of Public Works.
What's the highest priority (if any) among sections in Phase 1?
- The replacement American Legion Bridge (ALB), in accordance with the Capital Beltway Accord with the Commonwealth of Virginia, must be delivered in the first Section.
- In Phase 1, I-495 from the vicinity of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, across and including the American Legion Bridge, to the I-270 west spur, and the I-270 west spur to I-370, will be delivered first.
What transit benefits will developers have to provide? When will these be determined/finalized?
- After extensive outreach and collaboration with local partners, MDOT will complete memoranda of understanding (MOUs) regarding benefits to regional transit service with the affected counties (Montgomery and Frederick counties for Phase 1) before the Phase 1 P3 Agreement is submitted to the Board of Public Works for approval. (Phase 1 Section 1 to I-370/Montgomery; Phase 1 Section 2/Montgomery and Frederick counties.)
- The Phase P3 Agreement will advance the development of the defined regional transit service improvements in the MOUs and then deliver the improvements as part of the Section P3 agreements.
- There has been an ongoing effort with local jurisdictions and transit providers as part of the Managed Lanes Transit Work Group that is identifying new transit service routes and park and ride expansions that could provide a new transit network using the managed lanes. It is anticipated that these improvements may serve as the basis of those that are ultimately developed and delivered as part of the P3 agreement. The report with recommendations from the Managed Lanes Transit Workgroup will be available this spring for public review.
- The transit benefit will be made part of the P3 agreement and local communities will benefit when the managed lanes become operational.
When will additional details regarding the Bi-State Capital Beltway Accord be shared, including who will be responsible for certain work items and how interactions between the two states and their contractors will be managed?
MDOT, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, will deliver the ALB as part of the Phase 1 P3 Agreement and each state will be responsible to jointly fund the ALB from each state’s future toll revenues. No public funding will be required. A formal agreement with specific details is being developed between the states.
What are the roles and responsibilities of MDOT and MDTA?
- MDOT, including MDOT SHA, and MDTA are joint reporting agencies for Maryland for Op Lanes Maryland and will both be party to the P3 agreements.
- MDOT SHA is responsible for the overall management of Op Lanes Maryland development and delivery and will be issuing the Request for Qualifications.
- MDTA is the only state entity with the authority to set and fix tolls for State transportation facilities and will be responsible for setting a toll rate range and toll collections. Those rate ranges will be set by MDTA only after a period of public comment, review and hearings.
- An Interagency Agreement between MDOT, including MDOT SHA, and MDTA further outlining the roles and responsibilities was approved last year.
What Firm Types are required to be part of a Developer team as part of the Request for Qualifications?
Each team must have an Equity Member, a Designer, a Lead Contractor, and a Lead Project Developer.
Will additional firms be required?
Yes, additional firms, including MBE/DBE firms will be required for the work for all Phase and Section P3 agreements.
What risks will the developer have to bear?
Generally, the developer will take on the revenue risk of financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance. This includes the risk of toll revenue returns to repay all financing for the improvements.
How will teams be shortlisted? How many teams do you anticipate shortlisting?
- The most highly qualified teams, as determined by MDOT / MDTA evaluation and selection committees, will be shortlisted based on the experience, qualifications and past performance in successfully delivering similar projects and on their financial capability.
- We anticipate shortlisting three teams but may shortlist up to five if in the best interest of the State.
- MDOT SHA has established an overall evaluation structure for the solicitation process. Each SOQ will be initially evaluated by technical evaluation teams for the financial elements, technical elements, and compliance with the solicitation requirements.
- After initial evaluations, an Evaluation Committee will further review each SOQ in detail and recommend final ratings and a short list, that will be presented to the Selection Committee.
- The Selection Committee will include positions such as the MDOT Secretary, MDTA Executive Director, and MDOT SHA Administrator and will review the Evaluation Committee’s recommendation and make the determination of the Shortlist, which will then be announced.
How will the State pick the winner from the shortlist?
The shortlisted proposers will be evaluated on their approach and alignment with addressing our high-level goals of relieving traffic congestion, minimizing impacts, and accelerating delivery all at no cost to the State of Maryland. We also will consider their innovative ideas in advancing these goals, including how they will work collaboratively with the communities and local stakeholders and further minimize property impacts.
When will later phase(s) occur? Are teams favored or excluded in subsequent phases if they participate and/or are selected for Phase 1?
- No schedule has been established for future phases. Any future phase will require BPW approval before moving forward.
- No firm will be favored or excluded on future phases regardless of their participation on Phase 1.
When will agreements have to go back to the Board of Public Works (BPW) for approval?
The Phase 1 P3 Agreement is planned to go back to the BPW for approval in Spring 2021.
How will the Phase Developer select its subcontractors?
The Phase P3 Agreement will require fair and transparent selection of subcontractors that will ensure opportunities for all subcontractors interested in performing work as part of Phase 1, including small, women, minority and disadvantaged businesses.
Will funding/subsidy be available for Op Lanes Maryland or is it no net cost? Is that true for each phase/section or can funds from one Section be reapportioned to another?
The overall Op Lanes Maryland will be delivered at no net cost to the State, with no public Transportation Trust Fund contribution and with all debt non-recourse to the State. MDOT will ensure each P3 Agreement is implemented to meet this commitment.
Will stipends be paid to proposers at the RFQ or RFP stage?
MDOT will not offer any stipends, or reimbursement for work product as part of the RFQ but will offer the ability for reimbursement in exchange for work product to unsuccessful proposers in the RFP stage.
Will the State offer a stipend during the predevelopment phase?
All work by the Phase P3 Developer will be done at their cost and risk, with repayment coming from future toll revenues.
What are DBE/MBE goals?
Goals have not been set for DBE/MBE. Goals will be set for the predevelopment work and the section design, construction, operations and maintenance considering the scope of work and available opportunities to subcontract.
Can small and local businesses join teams?
Yes, there will be multiple opportunities for small and local businesses to be part of the P3 Developer team as the phase develops.
Are firms required to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA)?
- MDOT is developing a Community Benefits package that will include workforce development programs and Opportunity MDOT inclusion requirements that Phase and Section P3 Developers must comply with. This Community Benefits package will include provisions related to MBE, DBE, labor unions, contractors and others.
- A PLA is not mandatory. Prevailing wage rates will be used to ensure fair wages are provided.
What happens if NEPA for northern I-270 (or other sections) don't proceed or don't select managed lanes as the preferred alternative?
The Phase 1 Developer is being selected to assist MDOT with preliminary development work only at this time. If the northern part of I-270 does not receive approval through the environmental process or managed lanes are not included in a preferred alternative, that portion of the agreement would not advance past the preliminary development stage.
When is the Record of Decision for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study anticipated?
MDOT is working to complete the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment and a series of public hearings this spring. After the hearings, we will prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, which will be complete before the Phase P3 Agreement is submitted to the BPW.
Will there be a formal process to provide input into the NEPA study?
NEPA is an open, public process that allows comments from all. We encourage comments from everyone on both the Managed Lanes Study and the I-270 Pre-NEPA Activities.
What is the scope of work for the predevelopment process under the Phase P3 Agreement?
The Phase Developer will provide preliminary development services for the entirety of Phase 1 which may include development of design and schedule, supporting MDOT in community outreach and engagement, further minimizing impacts to property, communities, and environmental resources, developing detailed cost estimates and traffic and revenue studies, creating financing arrangements, and developing regional transit services that were included in MOUs with the affected counties.
How will the Phase Developer move from the preliminary development process to actual construction?
The Phase Developer will be responsible to develop a proposal compliant with requirements of the Phase P3 agreement that they can design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the managed lanes system for a particular section of the phase with no net cost to the State and non-recourse debt to the State. Once environmental and BPW approval has been received, the Phase P3 Developer will move forward with that particular section.
MDOT RECOMMENDED PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE (RPA)
What is a recommended preferred alternative?
Recommended preferred alternatives are typically concepts outlining what potential solutions best meet an environmental study’s purpose and need. They are not an official design. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) require environmental studies to recommend a preferred alternative in an environmental impact statement (EIS). Generally, the draft EIS (DEIS) and/or the final (FEIS) can include a recommended preferred alternative.
What is the MDOT Recommended Preferred Alternative (MDOT RPA)?
The MDOT RPA is Alternative 9: Two high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
The MDOT RPA proposes adding two HOT managed lanes in each direction of I-495 from south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia across the American Legion Bridge to west of MD 5. On I-270 from I-495 to north of I-370, the alternative would add one HOT lane and convert the highway’s existing HOV lane into a HOT lane, resulting in a network of two managed HOT lanes in each direction on both highways. The result would be significant operational, equity and transit benefits while retaining existing travel lanes as free lanes. (In the future, the section of I-495 from MD 5 to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge will be considered as part of a separate NEPA study.) The HOT lanes would allow HOVs with three or more people and buses to travel free of charge, reducing dependence on single-occupant vehicles and providing new opportunities for faster, more-reliable bus transit service, carpooling and vanpooling throughout the region. Drivers of single occupancy vehicles only would pay if they choose to use the managed lanes.
Why was Alternative 9 (two high-occupancy toll lanes) selected as the MDOT RPA for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study?
MDOT recommended two HOT lanes as the preferred alternative for the Study because compared to other alternatives it would provide:
- the best average speed and travel times on I-495 and I-270, achieving free-flow speeds in the managed lanes while averaging 41 miles per hour (mph) in the free general purpose lanes, during peak periods;
- the greatest average hours of saving per commuter of about 73 hours per year;
- average PM peak period trips from the American Legion Bridge to I-370 would take just 15 minutes in the managed lanes, or just 23 minutes in the free general purpose lanes, compared to 32 minutes in the No-build Alternative, a time savings of up to 17 minutes one-way;
- the largest reduction in local roadway network travel delays -- 7.0 percent daily time savings;
- new equitable travel opportunities and connections by providing toll-free travel for HOV 3+ users and bus transit in addition to the free general purpose lanes;
- new opportunities for ride sharing and car/van pooling, reducing dependence on single-occupancy vehicles (SOV);
- new travel options with expanded bicycle and pedestrian connections, including across the American Legion Bridge;
- the greatest increase in travel speed for transit buses in the HOT lanes assuring a reliable transit trip; new connections to existing transit services on local arterials that serve activity and economic centers;
- replacement of approximately 23 miles of existing noise walls and installation of more than 14 miles of new noise walls; and
- the most operational compatibility with the existing and proposed I-495 Express (HOT) Lanes in Virginia.
Why does MDOT want to use phased delivery to implement the MDOT Recommended Preferred Alternative, including HOT lanes, for the MLS?
Specifically, on the MLS, the phased delivery will allow the MDOT SHA to focus on implementing HOT lanes first on the American Legion Bridge and I-270 portions of the MLS, also known as Phase 1 South, which includes the most congested area during the PM peak in the study area and the State of Maryland. The American Legion Bridge is also the primary link between key economic centers in Maryland and Virginia.
Major transportation projects like those proposed in the 48-mile MLS, are typically implemented in phases due to issues related to construction, maintenance of traffic, and financing. The phased construction is necessary for a project of this magnitude, which includes a major river crossing, 26 interchanges, and 48 miles of highway improvements, to make effective use of construction resources, promote the efficient hiring of contractors including DBEs, and maintain the existing number of lanes during construction for the estimated 260,000 vehicles that use these roads daily.
How would phased delivery of the MDOT Recommended Preferred Alternative for the MLS work?
We are focusing first on the most critical area – the American Legion Bridge and I-270 – as Phase 1 South.
To this end, based on the findings and commitments of the MLS Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision (expected in Fall 2021), delivery of the HOT lane improvements would begin with Phase 1 South (from George Washington Parkway south of the American Legion Bridge to I-270 and on I-270 north to I-370).
We will continue to advance the I-270 Pre-NEPA environmental process regarding portions of I-270 between I-370 and I-70, which lie in both Montgomery and Frederick counties and constitute the rest of Phase 1.
Concurrent with the MLS, MDOT has solicited a private-sector partner for Phase 1 to conduct predevelopment work in collaboration with local municipalities, utilities, partner agencies and stakeholder organizations. This advanced work will look to further reduce impacts on properties, communities, environmental resources and other features along the corridor.
MDOT remains committed to phased delivery of the MLS’s HOT lanes improvements, but we will not proceed with permitting and implementation of subsequent phases until additional environmental reviews are complete, which involve further collaboration and engagement with agencies and the public.
More details about the phased delivery approach, associated impacts and permitting will be discussed in the Final EIS and ROD.
Do Maryland citizens have a voice in this process?
Yes! There are multiple opportunities for Marylanders to have a voice in Op Lanes Maryland. To date, MDOT SHA has been involved in more than 250 public engagements.
The I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS) has hosted 16 public workshops in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Since March 2018, the MLS has received and recorded over 6,000 public comments. Public outreach and comments from the 2018 scoping, preliminary alternatives and 2019 alternatives retained for detailed study efforts are summarized in reports that can be found on the P3 Program website.
The I-270 Pre NEPA Activities held four public workshops in Montgomery and Frederick Counties in November 2019. More than 102 comments were received.
There are many opportunities for the public to provide input and we are still in the early stages of this program. To find up-to-date information on upcoming activities in the process, please visit:
How can I learn more about the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study?
How can I comment on the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study?
There are many ways to comment on the Study. Provide your comments online, by email, by phone, or through the mail. Visit our contact page for contact information or to sign up for email notifications to stay up to date on Op Lanes Maryland.
How can I provide input into the I-270 Pre-NEPA Activities?
As MDOT SHA evaluates congestion relief for I-270 from I-370 to I-70, we welcome your feedback. Provide your comments online, by email, by phone, or through the mail. Visit our contact page for contact information or to sign up for email notifications to stay up to date on Op Lanes Maryland.
What is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
The NEPA is a federal law that directs federal agencies to conduct studies to ensure proper consideration of the environment prior to the federal government undertaking any proposed action that may affect the environment.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is working closely with MDOT SHA to conduct the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study and the I-270 Pre-NEPA Activities. Public involvement and engagement are a large part of the NEPA process and public input is received throughout the process.
What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a NEPA document prepared when the proposed action will have significant environmental effects. It considers a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential impacts resulting from the alternatives, demonstrates compliance with other applicable environmental laws and requirements and documents the decision-making process in identifying a selected alternative. The EIS documentation consists of a Draft EIS (DEIS), Final EIS (FEIS), and Record of Decision (ROD).
What is a Record of Decision (ROD)?
A Record of Decision (ROD) generally concludes the NEPA process for an EIS. The ROD explains the lead federal agency’s decision and discusses measures for mitigation of environmental impacts.
What are Managed Lanes?
Highway facilities that use strategies, such as lane-use restrictions or congestion pricing, to optimize the number of vehicles that can travel the highway to maintain free-flow speeds and keep people moving. Managed lanes may include, but are not limited to, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, high-occupancy toll lanes, express toll lanes, and bus only lanes.
What is Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing continually adjusts tolls to respond to real-time traffic to maintain a free-flowing level of traffic in managed lanes. Pricing will be set, within an established range, to ensure that the managed lanes are meeting a consistent congestion free reliable trip. Nationwide, dynamic pricing based on real-time traffic conditions is used to regulate demand every five to 15 minutes. With dynamic pricing, drivers choosing to use the managed lanes would pay the toll rate shown on the digital sign prior to their entrance into the managed lanes. Drivers that choose to travel in the general-purpose lanes for free will also experience reduced travel times.
What are High-Occupancy Toll Lanes?
High-Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT) are dedicated managed lanes within highway rights-of-way that single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) motorists may use by paying a variably priced toll and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) motorists may use by paying a discounted toll or no toll at all. Toll payments may vary by time of day and level of congestion.
What are Express Toll Lanes?
Express Toll Lanes (ETL) are dedicated managed lanes within highway right-of-way that any motorist, regardless of vehicle occupancy, may use by paying a variably priced toll, depending on time of day and level of congestion.
What is a Public-Private Partnership?
A Public-Private Partnership (P3) is an alternative model for delivery of a capital project. A P3 is a partnership between the public or governmental sector with private entities. The P3 seeks to harness private sector expertise, innovation and funding in order to deliver public infrastructure for the benefit of the public owner and users of the infrastructure. P3s seek to successfully leverage the respective strengths of the public and private sectors to deliver large, complex infrastructure projects in a cost effective and timely fashion. Functions under a P3 structure may include designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining a transportation facility.