On September 2, 2020, the MCA Board of Directors issued a resolution supporting implementation of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) 495 NEXT Project, which would extend the existing high-occupancy toll lanes on I-495 from their present terminus north of Route 267 to the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). The Board predicated its support on its long-standing position of urging the reduction of traffic congestion at the American Legion Memorial Bridge. Although VDOT predicts that the 495 NEXT Project will benefit local traffic even without Maryland’s contemplated reconstruction of the Bridge and expansion of I-495 from the GWMP to I-270, in the event Maryland goes through with this expansion the 495 NEXT Project would complement these plans and reduce congestion near the Bridge.
The Board conditioned its support on VDOT addressing several environmental issues. These included taking specific measures to mitigate the loss of trees that would be cleared for road widening; taking measures to protect resources of Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and the GWMP; preparing a landscaping plan during the mitigation phase and providing an opportunity for public comment; and adopting and implementing a comprehensive stormwater management plan. The resolution also urged VDOT to provide residents with information on any construction activity that would impact public and private property in the area.
The proposal would require the rebuilding of several bridges over the Beltway, including on Georgetown Pike. The resolution asked VDOT to consider adding a ramp on that bridge to provide direct access to and from the HOT lanes on the Beltway south of Georgetown Pike, and to include a sidewalk on the north side of the rebuilt bridge.
The resolution urged VDOT to consider carefully the financial impacts and uncertainties related to increased use of telework and reduced commuting patterns resulting from the current pandemic prior to signing a contract for the project or beginning construction-related activities.
A copy of the resolution can be accessed here: MCA Resolution on 495NEXT Environment Assessment