About the Project

Process

There are many steps that the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) must go through before the highway and transit improvements become a reality. These steps ensure that:

  • Transportation, community and environmental impacts from the improvements are assessed. These impacts are avoided, minimized or mitigated to the extent possible.
  • Public participation and community input help guide the decision-making process.

1. Project Initiation

The I-270 Corridor has been the subject of transit service studies as far back as 1970. Portions of this project are a continuation of various transportation studies throughout the Corridor. The current I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Corridor Study is the latest of a series of transportation studies conducted by various local and state agencies to address transportation needs in the corridor. It seeks to identify and select highway and transit alternatives that relieve congestion, provide travel options, and improve safety.

Early in the project, input was received on potential transportation, social, economic, and natural environmental issues. This input was used to further define the purpose of the project and identify the need for the project, settle on the initial range of alternatives to be considered, and identify potential issues related to the proposed alternatives that would need to be addressed in the environmental document.

2. Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The next step analyzed and identified the alternatives to retain for detailed study. This began the formal alternatives analysis and environmental process. The results of this step were documented in a "Definition of Alternatives" report.

Highway and transit alternatives and alignment options that had been retained for detailed study were then fully evaluated and better defined to accurately assess their environmental effects, community impacts, transportation benefits, and costs. The end product of these activities was the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) document. The DEIS was completed in May 2002 and public hearings were held in both Montgomery and Frederick Counties in June 2002.

Following completion of the DEIS, SHA determined that new alternatives involving express toll lanes should be included in the project and fully evaluated. The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration concluded that the public should be given an opportunity to review these new alternatives and their associated impacts. SHA and MTA prepared an Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment (AA/EA) document detailing the effects and benefits related to these new alternatives. The AA/EA was released in May 2009 and serves as a companion to the 2002 DEIS. The companion designation means Alternatives 6A/B and 7A/B were added to the project after the DEIS was completed. These alternatives have been examined to the same level of environmental review as the alternatives in the 2002 DEIS. Public hearings were held on June 16 and 18, 2009 to provide an opportunity for public and private testimony.

State and local officials will select a Locally Preferred Alternative based on the results of the study.

3. Final Environmental Impact Statement

Preliminary Engineering and a Final Environmental Impact Statement (PE/FEIS) will be prepared based on the outcomes of the DEIS and AA/EA processes and the selection of a Locally Preferred Alternative. Depending on project prioritization, funding availability, and project timelines, the highway and transit components may be split at this stage and separate final documents may be prepared.

4. Record of Decision

A "Record of Decision" (ROD) will be sought from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration at the completion of the PE/FEIS process. The ROD formally transitions a project from the planning and environmental process into design and construction.

SHA and MTA are jointly managing this project, with the support and close coordination of a team that includes the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Montgomery County, Frederick County, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and the cities of Frederick, Gaithersburg, and Rockville.