[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 52 (Friday, March 16, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11812-11813]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05354]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration


Notice of Intent To Prepare Environmental Impact Statement, I-495 
& I-270 Managed Lanes Study, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, 
Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia

AGENCY: Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway 
Administration (MDOT SHA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS).

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SUMMARY: The FHWA, as the Lead Federal Agency, and MDOT SHA, as the 
Local Project Sponsor, are issuing this notice to advise the public of 
our intention to prepare an EIS for the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes 
Study (Study). The Study is the first element of a broader Traffic 
Relief Plan as announced by Governor Larry Hogan in September 2017, 
which considers improvements along the entire length of I-495 (Capital 
Beltway), as well as the entire length of I-270 (Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Memorial Highway) up to I-70 in Frederick County, Maryland. This EIS 
will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of alternatives that 
address congestion within the specific Study scope of I-495 from south 
of the American Legion Bridge in Fairfax County, Virginia to east of 
the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and on I-270 from I-495 to I-370, including 
the east and west I-270 spurs in Montgomery and Prince George's 
Counties, Maryland. The EIS will be prepared in accordance with 
regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
and provisions of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) 
Act and will include a range of reasonable alternatives, including a 
``No Build'' alternative.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeanette Mar, Environmental Program 
Manager, Federal Highway Administration, Maryland Division, George H. 
Fallon Federal Building 31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1520, Baltimore MD 
21201, (410) 779-7152, or email at jeanette.mar@dot.gov. Lisa B. 
Choplin, Project Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Project Office, Maryland 
Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, 707 North 
Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, (833) 858-5960, or email at 495-270-P3@sha.state.md.us.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this notice is to: (1) Alert 
interested parties to the FHWA and MDOT SHA plan to prepare the EIS; 
(2) provide information on the nature of the proposed action; (3) 
solicit public and agency input regarding the scope of the EIS, 
including the purpose and need, alternatives to be considered, and 
impacts to be evaluated; and (4) announce that public and agency 
scoping meetings will be conducted.
    The Study limits extend to areas in Montgomery and Prince George's 
counties, Maryland along I-495 (Capital Beltway) from south of the 
American Legion Bridge in Fairfax County, Virginia, to east of the 
Woodrow Wilson Bridge and on I-270 (Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial 
Highway) from I-495 to I-370 including the east and west I-270 spurs.
    At the present time, high travel demand from commuter, business, 
and recreational trips results in severe congestion nearly 10 hours a 
day in the Study corridors. Travelers place a high value on reaching 
their destinations in a timely manner, and in recent years, the Study 
corridors have become so unreliable that uncertain travel times are 
experienced daily. Managed lanes are needed to provide more dependable 
travel times and congestion relief. Motorists on I-495 and I-270 do not 
have an option for efficient travel during extensive periods of 
congestion. Additional roadway management options are needed to improve 
travel choices.
    Additional capacity and improvements to enhance reliability must be 
financially viable. MDOT's traditional funding sources would be unable 
to effectively finance, construct, operate, and maintain highway 
systems of this magnitude. A revenue source that provides necessary 
funding, such as tolling options, is needed to provide additional 
capacity and improvements addressing existing and anticipated high 
travel demand. A Public-Private Partnership (P3) with the state will be 
pursued to develop innovative approaches to design, build, finance, 
operate, and maintain the potential improvements developed through the 
NEPA Study.
    The intent of the proposed action to be assessed in the Study is to 
accommodate existing traffic and long-term traffic growth, enhance trip 
reliability, and provide an additional roadway travel choice. 
Additional roadway options would also accommodate homeland security 
needs and improve the movement of goods and services throughout the 
Study corridor. The EIS will include a review of existing and future 
traffic, existing roadway infrastructure, and existing environmental 
conditions to establish context for the identification of alternatives 
and assessment of potential impacts. The analyses undertaken during the 
EIS will result in identification of the alternative that best meets 
the Study purpose and need while considering the environmental impacts 
of that alternative. The alternatives evaluated in the EIS will include 
build alternatives which provide additional capacity and offer travel 
choices for travelers on I-495 and I-270. The ``No Build'' alternative 
will

[[Page 11813]]

be carried forward for baseline comparison purposes throughout the EIS 
development process.
    The EIS will be prepared by MDOT SHA for FHWA to fulfill the 
requirements established in NEPA pursuant to current FHWA regulations 
and guidance. MDOT SHA intends to recommend a preferred alternative in 
the Draft EIS. The FHWA may issue a single Final EIS and Record of 
Decision (Final EIS/ROD), unless FHWA determines statutory criteria or 
consideration precluding issuance of a combined decision document.
    Previous analyses which evaluated managed lanes in the Study 
corridors will be considered and incorporated by reference, as 
appropriate. The Study will consider relevant resource identification 
and field investigations from previous studies. To the extent 
consistent with FHWA NEPA regulations, conclusions reached as part of 
previous planning studies could inform the initial range of 
alternatives and focus the alternatives evaluation. Since 1990, several 
studies have examined various sections of I-495 and I-270 within the 
current Study limits in an effort to evaluate potential congestion 
relief and operational improvements. Among other issues, these studies 
considered the potential to provide additional capacity along I-495 and 
I-270 that could connect with adjacent transportation facilities. 
Recommendations resulting from each of these studies included the 
implementation of managed lanes (including Express Toll Lanes [ETL], 
High-Occupancy vehicle [HOV] lanes, and High-Occupancy Toll [HOT] 
lanes) on I-495 and radial facilities, (i.e., I-270 and I-95). Studies 
have included: the Statewide Commuter Assistance Study Corridor Profile 
Reports (MDOT, 1990); the Capital Beltway HOV Feasibility Study (MDOT, 
1992); The Potential for Circumferential Transit in the Washington 
Region (MWCOG, August 1993); the I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Corridor Study 
(MDOT, 2002); the Capital Beltway Study EIS (VDOT, 2006); Maryland's 
Statewide Express Toll Lanes Network Initiative (MDOT, 2007); the West 
Side Mobility Study (MDOT and VDOT, 2009); and the Purple Line Study 
and the Capital Beltway Study (MDOT et al., 2013).
    The Maryland's Statewide Express Toll Lanes Network Initiative 
(MDOT, 2007) built on the studies listed above and provided an overview 
of the state's vision for a Statewide Express Toll Lanes Network on the 
State's busiest highway segments in the Baltimore-Washington Region, 
including I-495 and I-270. The major benefit of the Express Toll Lanes 
cited in the study was the ability to provide needed highway lane 
capacity to ease the impact of congestion by providing transportation 
improvements sooner than traditional approaches could otherwise 
achieve. As a result, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments 
(MWCOG) recognized this statewide approach to Express Toll Lanes as 
regionally significant and Express Toll Lanes on I-495 and I-270, as 
well as other corridors in the Baltimore Washington Region, became part 
of the Constrained Long-Range Plan.
    In July 2017, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning 
Board at the MWCOG approved a set of ten regional initiatives for 
further study, which includes analyzing managed lanes on the portions 
of I-495 and I-270 that are included in the I-495 and I-270 Managed 
Lanes Study. In September 2017, Maryland Governor Hogan announced the 
intent to develop additional capacity along sections of I-270, I-495, 
and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295). For I-495 and I-270, the 
Governor has proposed a P3 to design, build, finance, operate, and 
maintain this project to accelerate the delivery of improvements for 
congestion relief.

Scoping Process

    FHWA and MDOT SHA will undertake a scoping process for the I-495 & 
I-270 Managed Lanes Study that will solicit input from the public and 
interested agencies on the issues that will be evaluated in EIS. This 
public outreach effort will educate and engage stakeholders regarding 
the nature and extent of the proposed action. FHWA and MDOT SHA will 
invite all interested individuals, organizations, and public agencies 
to comment on the scope of the EIS, including the purpose and need, 
potential alternatives to be studied, environmental impacts to be 
considered, evaluation methods to be used, and potential mitigation 
measures.
    More information on public outreach activities, including future 
public workshops, will be available in a project coordination plan on 
the Study website. All public meetings related to the Study will be 
held in locations accessible to persons with disabilities. Any person 
who requires special assistance, such as a language interpreter, should 
contact the I-495 & I-270 P3 Office at (833) 858-5960 via email at 495-270-P3@sha.state.md.us at least 48 hours before the workshop.
    Letters inviting agencies to be cooperating or participating in the 
environmental review process are being sent to those agencies that have 
jurisdiction or may have an interest in the EIS. Additionally, FHWA and 
MDOT SHA will notify cooperating and participating agencies of a 
separate agency scoping meeting.

DATES: Four initial public workshop presentations will be held in April 
2018 to solicit public input regarding the scope of issues that will be 
included in the EIS. Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be 
provided to MDOT SHA by May 1, 2018, using the email address or 
physical mailing address listed below. Comments may also be provided in 
writing at the public workshops.

ADDRESSES: The public and other interested parties are encouraged to 
comment on-line at the Study's website (www.495-270-P3.com), via email 
at 495-270-P3@sha.state.md.us, or by hard copy during the public 
workshops. Hard copy comments can also be mailed to the I-495 & I-270 
Project Office at 707 North Calvert Street, Baltimore MD 21202.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 315; 49 CFR 1.48; 23 CFR 771.111 and 
771.123.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway Research, Planning and Construction. The regulations 
implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental 
consultation on Federal programs and activities apply to this 
program.)


    Issued on: March 8, 2018.
Gregory Murrill,
Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Baltimore, 
Maryland.
[FR Doc. 2018-05354 Filed 3-15-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P