community advocates for protecting neighborhoods

The city opposes the taking of residences, businesses or city infrastructure, or the removal of sound barriers as part of proposed improvements to interstates 270 and 495, and a community effort recently carried neighborhoods’ concerns to the state.

Maryland transportation officials told city officials last month that the state has no plans to take homes by eminent domain to widen the highways, echoing statements by Gov. Larry Hogan during a Sept. 4 news conference in Annapolis.

I-495 & I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program project overview map.

Image courtesy MDOT.

A managed lane study, the I-495 & I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program’s first phase, is reviewing existing and future traffic, and roadway and environmental conditions, to identify alternatives and assess their potential impacts.

The state’s plans do not include acquiring private property or moving or removing sound barriers because of the expense of acquiring private property, state transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn said during a Sept. 13 meeting with the mayor and a councilmember.

The state held a community meeting with Regent’s Square, a Rockville condominium community that abuts Interstate 270, and two public workshops in Montgomery County in July, to discuss the options with the community. Community members can learn more and comment on the project at https://495-270-p3.com/contact.

About 100 community members contacted 4,750 households by mail or door-to-door, to generate comments urging the state to protect neighborhoods abutting I-270.

The city is continuing to actively engage with the state on behalf of Rockville residents, City Manager Rob DiSpirito wrote in an Aug. 23 letter to the state Department of Transportation.

DiSpirito’s letter follows a May 14 letter from the Mayor and Council, which expressed their strong opposition to alternatives that would widen, or add lanes to, the interstates.

“As stated in our prior letter, the City still supports transit as a means of addressing traffic congestion,” DiSpirito wrote. “The City of Rockville is also open to considering highway alternatives such as modified, reversible or contraflow lanes and/or reconfiguring the local lanes as long as these lanes would be completely within the current I-270 right of way.”

This article has been updated.