During its July meeting, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved a resolution to add the proposed I-270/I-495 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes project back into its air quality analysis, a federally required step for regionally significant projects to move forward.
This action amended the board’s decision in June to remove the HOT lanes from the air quality analysis project list, which is part of the Visualize 2045 long-range plan update. Following that decision, several TPB members from Maryland and Virginia asked the board to revisit the matter.
At the meeting, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) made a motion to amend the projects approved during the June meeting and restore the HOT lanes project. In addition, Montgomery County proposed amendments to the HOT lanes resolution in advance of the vote, outlining new commitments by the state to accelerate the delivery of transit projects associated with the HOT lanes project.
If a regionally significant project, like the HOT lanes, is not included in the TPB’s air quality analysis and long-range plan, then it will not meet federal requirements to receive final approval of the project’s environmental review and move forward. The air quality analysis is expected to be completed by June 2022 before the board votes to finalize the long-range plan update, the TPB says.
The TPB is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization in the region, and it is responsible for developing the region’s long-range transportation plan. As such, the TPB is required to conduct an air quality analysis of all regionally significant projects in its long-range plan to affirm that projects collectively meet federal air quality standards. It must also ensure that the projects in the long-range plan have financing in place to build, operate, and maintain the regional transportation system. These environmental and fiscal requirements apply regardless of whether projects are to be financed by federal funding or not.
SOURCE: National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board