Frederick County residents will have several chances in November to give their opinions and get information about a state plan to reduce congestion on Interstate 270 by adding toll lanes.
Maryland’s State Highway Administration will hold four meetings next month, including two in Frederick County, for staff to provide information about the project.
The project would add lanes — likely toll lanes — to the road in an effort to reduce congestion along the busy highway that runs between Frederick and the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County.
The workshops are part of early planning activities before the start of an environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as a chance to review current and future traffic, road, and environmental conditions, according to an SHA release.
They’ll include an overview of the pre-NEPA and NEPA processes, and the transportation needs of the corridor from Interstate 70 in Frederick to Interstate 370, near Gaithersburg.
The two Frederick County workshops will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Lincoln Recreation Center at Lincoln Elementary School in Frederick, 200 Madison St., and Nov. 20 at Urbana Fire Department Banquet Hall, 3602 Urbana Pike in Urbana.
Each workshop will include a brief presentation at 7 p.m.
Workshops will also be held Nov. 12 in Clarksburg and Nov. 21 in Gaithersburg.
The state’s Board of Public Works designated the project as a public-private partnership in June, meaning the toll lanes would be designed, built and operated by a private company, with the state getting some of the toll revenue.
Terry Owens, a State Highway Administration spokesman for the project, said the agency is looking to share information about the project, as well as encouraging people to come with their own proposals.
“We’re looking for ideas as we try to find solutions for traffic congestion,” Owens said.
He encouraged people to visit the website for the program for information before the meetings.
The NEPA is a federal law that requires federal agencies to do studies to make sure proper consideration is given to projects that could affect the environment. The Federal Highway Administration is working with the state on a managed lane study for the project.
The pre-NEPA activities include identifying the project’s purpose and need, developing a range of alternatives, reviewing current and future traffic volumes and environmental conditions, and engaging the public.
Owens said they expect the pre-NEPA process to take about a year to finish.
Under the state’s current plan, the bottom section of I-270, from near Shady Grove to Interstate 495, would be built first. The section from I-370 to I-70 would follow.
State Del. Ken Kerr (D-Frederick), whose district includes the upper portions of I-270 in Frederick County, said he hasn’t heard a lot about I-270 from his constituents, but many of those he has heard from are losing patience with the lack of progress along I-270 and would like to see something done.
Kerr said he would like to see more emphasis on transit to get more cars off the road rather than making the road larger.