LANDOVER – As the announcement of the new home for the FBI draws closer, the agency and General Services Administration (GSA) are reaching out to the communities vying for the headquarters and its 11,000 jobs. The short list includes Springfield, Va., Greenbelt and Landover. A public meeting was held at each location to discuss changes […]
LANDOVER – As the announcement of the new home for the FBI draws closer, the agency and General Services Administration (GSA) are reaching out to the communities vying for the headquarters and its 11,000 jobs.
The short list includes Springfield, Va., Greenbelt and Landover. A public meeting was held at each location to discuss changes to proposed traffic improvement measures since the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2015. The Landover meeting was held Feb. 15 at the new Kentland Community Center.
While the other shortlist sites saw their employee parking requirements revised up, for Landover, the initial estimate of 7,300 spaces remained accurate, according to Doug Grant, project manager at the FBI.
“The numbers haven’t changed from the draft EIS. We feel that at the planned parking levels, we were able to meet our mission, get our employees to and from work safely and efficiently, and keep our promise of being good neighbors,” Grant said.
Mark Berger, principal transportation planner at Louis Berger, said the biggest changes resulted from the need to extend the timeframe when the headquarters would open if Landover is selected, from 2022 to 2023. That resulted in six more locations were mitigation measures would be required.
“In the Draft EIS we had 21 locations that required mitigation to accommodate the FBI headquarters based on the 2022 build year,” Berger said. “In the final EIS there are 27 locations that did require mitigation. All of that additional, added number are actually just signal timing adjustments. There’s no more lane changes, there’s no more widening.”
Another six locations that were included in the draft EIS will be recommended for additional changes in the final. At the intersection of Landover and Brightseat Roads, in addition to new lanes and turning bays and road widening already proposed in the draft EIS, the final report would recommend a longer southbound turn lane. The left turn lane proposed for travel from Landover Road onto southbound I-495 would also be extended further than the draft EIS indicated, with a corresponding shortening of the left turn lane from Landover Road onto 495 northbound.
In the draft EIS, the intersection of Aardwick-Ardmore and Brightseat Roads was slated for signal improvements, but Berger said the final EIS instead suggests a traffic circle with five approaches.
“Initially we felt that the southbound side of the two drive ways has very light traffic,” he said. “It looked okay. But after further discussions with the county, we felt that it was better to upgrade this to a two-lane roundabout.”
The final report will include a new exit out of the FBI site from the south, directly onto Brightseat Road, which will create a new traffic pattern, Berger said. The final EIS will also show a new turn lane to aide travel into the FBI complex’s north gate.
The other larger change is on Evarts Street. Berger said the amenities intended to create a “sense of place” on the section of the street fronting the FBI would now be extended over a longer distance.
“If you walked over here, you’d notice that the street is what we call a Complete Street Design. It has lanes for vehicles, it has bicycle lanes on the side, and it has an area for pedestrians to walk,” as well as plant features, Berger said. “What we are now proposing is to carry that all the way down.”
The goal in making the 27 improvements proposed is to ensure that if Landover is chosen, traffic flows at the same rate or better than if the FBI wasn’t there. However, even with those measures, Berger said several areas of failure would exist on the Capital Beltway. They are the exit northbound onto Landover Road and the exit onto Arena Drive during the morning rush hour, and- new in the final EIS- the southbound 495 exit heading west on Landover Road during the afternoon rush hour.
Berger said the state of Maryland has committed to making improvements to the Beltway to alleviate those anticipated backups, should Landover be selected.
The traffic study did not specifically look at the impacts of FedExField traffic on football game days, or on the new regional medical center set to be built just to the south.
“At the time we began the project in 2014, that project was not far enough along to be considered,” Berger said of the hospital. “It didn’t have its approvals at the time, so at that point we didn’t include it. But if you do read the draft EIS, the amount of development that we did include here is quite extensive.”
County officials say they are confident the traffic estimates are accurate and are not concerned about both the FBI and the hospital operating at the same time- quite the opposite, in fact.
“It is what we’ve been waiting for,” said David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for public infrastructure. “It would be a statement of the success of County Executive (Rushern) Baker’s strategy.”
GSA expects to release the final EIS sometime in March.