This article has been updated with new information on support for an extension from four members of Maryland’s congressional delegation.
Rockville’s Mayor and Council are requesting from the state and federal governments an extension until Jan. 31 of the comment period for the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the I-495 & 1-270 Managed Lanes Study.
The comment period for the SDEIS has been set at 45 days, from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, “woefully insufficient time for meaningful public review and comment,” states a letter from the Mayor and Council to Jeanette Mar, environmental program manager for the Maryland Division of the Federal Highway Administration, and Jeff Folden, deputy project director with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration.
On Thursday, Oct. 28, four members of Maryland’s congressional delegation also wrote to request a deadline extension, stating that the “the 45-day comment period is not sufficient to allow for meaningful participation.”
The letter, addressed to Mar and Folden from U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Anthony G. Brown and Jamie Raskin, requests that the comment period be increased to at least 90 days, with an additional public hearing later in the process.
Of those 45 days of the comment period, only 29 are workdays, and only one day has been set aside for public hearing sessions, the letter states. The supplement has more than 8,000 pages and cross-references the 19,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Assessment.
“This is a voluminous amount of information to review and understand and such a process takes time,” especially during restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and rise of the highly contagious COVID delta variant, the Mayor and Council state.
The Mayor and Council requested the comment period be expanded to 120 days to allow sufficient time for public review.
“In particular, our residents are greatly concerned about this project’s physical and equity impacts on their communities, encroachment on their lands, effects on traffic, and the high tolls,” the letter states.
Explore articles on RockvilleReports.com for more on the Mayor and Council’s opposition to the state’s I-270/495 project.