Montgomery County Council Member Evan Glass has spearheaded a change that establishes more guidelines for environmental impact reviews for some regional transportation projects and speeds up the process for those reviews.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board on Wednesday approved a resolution to subject long-range transportation projects to air-quality tests and procedures and to accelerate the proposed deadline for when some projects would be reviewed.
It also required that the board complete a “Climate Change Mitigation Study” by the end of this year. That study will identify steps regional leaders can take to reduce greenhouse emissions caused by the transportation sector.
Before Glass’ amendment, certain projects like streetcar extensions, bus route expansions and road improvement projects through the greater Washington, D.C., region were scheduled to have air quality tests and analyses completed by 2026, after the current round of projects was slated to be completed by next year.
The selected projects already would have gone through an air quality review, but Glass’ change moved those projects up to 2024. It also added the need for greater environmental review for each project, including how each aims to lessen greenhouse emissions.
Glass said in an interview that his amendment was prompted by discussions around the region about how to combat climate change problems.
Board members approved the new resolution with Glass’ change 26-4. Four members abstained.
The action was more widely supported than one involving the removal of the I-270 and I-495 widening plan from the list of projects to undergo air quality analyses.
“As we grow and develop, we need to constantly talk about the environmental impact that those changes will create,” Glass said of projects affected by his amendment. “Until today, those impacts were not part of the conversation, but moving forward they will be. We must always talk about the environmental impact of our transportation sector … our housing sector and other aspects of life.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com