As plans move forward to add toll lanes on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, initial planning for the section of the project in Frederick County is expected to be done by the end of this year.
The State Highway Administration announced late last week that four teams of developers, designers, and contractors had been selected to present requests for proposals in early 2021 for the first phase of the I-495/I-270 P3 Program, which will add toll lanes to the two highways in the Washington region.
The first phase of the project will improve I-495 from near the George Washington Parkway, across the American Legion Bridge and along I-495 to I-270 and north to I-370 near Gaithersburg.
The second phase will address I-270 from I-370 to I-70 in Frederick.
The project will be built as a public-private partnership, in which developers and private funding would pay for the project in exchange for a share of the revenue that the toll lanes generate.
While the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transportation Authority hope to pick a developer and recommend a P3 agreement for the first phase of the project to the state’s Board of Public Works – made up of Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp – by late spring or early summer, preliminary work on the next phase will also continue during that process.
“The schedule proposed by each potential Phase Developer will be considered in the selection of the Phase Developer,” Terry Owens, the consultant for MDOT on the project, said in an email Tuesday. “It is expected that as the first section is being built, preliminary work will be ongoing for future sections to allow congestion relief to be provided across Phase 1 as quickly as possible.”
The draft study of environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act for the first phase of the project was released earlier in July. The process of formalizing that decision with hearings and other steps is continuing, with hearings in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties scheduled for August and September.
But while that process continues, pre-NEPA activities for the second phase are expected to be done by the end of 2020, Owens said.
The NEPA process is expected to take about two years to complete once it starts, he said.
According to 2018 statistics from the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, nearly 24 percent of Frederick County residents work in Montgomery County, while 2.7 percent work in the District of Columbia.
I-270, which runs more than 34 miles in Frederick and Montgomery counties, handles from 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles per day at various points, according to the State Highway Administration. Those numbers are expected to increase to 107,000 to 290,000 vehicles per day by 2030.