WASHINGTON - An environmental impact statement was released Tuesday regarding several major construction projects in the D.C. region including widening portions of Interstate 495, replacing the American Legion Bridge, and adding HOV lanes and express lanes to Interstate 270.
Construction isn't starting anytime soon, but now that the study is done, state officials tell FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald that this is a huge step forward in that direction.
The 'Preferred Plan' as it's called, would fully replace the American Legion Bridge with a new, wider bridge, Fitzgerald says. They would build an express toll lane in each direction along I-270, from I-370 across the new bridge and on the east/west spurs connecting I-270 to I-495. Drivers say relief is long overdue from what they describe as soul-crushing traffic.
As if traffic wasn't already bad enough on I-270, sinkhole repairs are still causing problems in the Gaithersburg area. Neil Harris, a Gaithersburg city councilman, told Fitzgerald it's glaring example of how badly the road needs to be improved. Jeff Folden, of the Maryland Department of Transportation, says the environmental report's completion moves those improvements closer.
This summer, the Federal Highway Administration could decide if it will authorize the project. After that, Maryland project managers tell Fitzgerald they can get to work on the design phase which will lead to the project's construction. More delays could pop up if environmental groups take legal action to challenge the report.