The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) I-495 & I-270 Public-Private Partnership (P3) Program is continuing to advance its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) through National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Joint Permit Application (JPA) requirements.
Throughout the DEIS review process, the P3 Program team has worked – and continues to work – to gather and encourage public input in advance of the November 9, 2020, deadline. (See below for details on how to provide comments and testimony.).
This past spring and summer, and after a two–year development process that included collecting and analyzing data, meeting with stakeholders, producing reports and educating the public, MDOT SHA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) were ready to publish the DEIS and hold joint public hearings with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
In consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the public-engagement effort for the DEIS process required innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, while prioritizing public and staff safety above all else.
The result: MDOT SHA and FHWA came together with an outreach plan that included a series of virtual and in-person public hearings – exceeding NEPA requirements and setting an example for how to conduct public hearings in a new way.
The P3 Program staff utilized an internet platform and related technology to allow citizens, officials and other stakeholders to participate in four virtual/online public hearings between August 18 and September 3. These innovative virtual hearings offered a new, safe way to participate in this important process.
In addition to the virtual hearings, MDOT SHA and FHWA also held two in–person hearings – one each in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties – specially structured to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practices limiting crowd size and maintaining social distancing.
Those public hearings have concluded, and the transcripts and videos from those sessions are available HERE.
There’s still time to add your voice…
The DEIS public comment period continues until November 9. A 90-day comment period was originally provided on the DEIS (twice the minimum time required), but based on input from community partners, stakeholders, and local and federal officials, the period was extended to 120 days – giving the public until November 9 to submit comments on the DEIS.
To view and comment on the DEIS via an online comment form, visit 495-270-p3.com/DEIS. Written comments also may be emailed to MLS-NEPA-P3@mdot.maryland.gov or mailed to:
Lisa B. Choplin, DBIA, Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Office Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, 707 North Calvert Street, Mail Stop P-601 Baltimore, MD 21202.
Meanwhile, comments on the JPA are due by November 6, and may be sent to USACE Baltimore District, Attn: Mr. Jack Dinne, 2 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, MD 21201-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org; and MDE Wetlands and Waterways Program, Attn: Mr. Steve Hurt, 1800 Washington Blvd., Suite 4300, Baltimore, MD 21230-1708, MDE.SHAprojects@maryland.gov.