The MD 5/US 301 corridor is a major north/south transportation corridor in Maryland for commuting, recreational and regional travel. It begins at the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495) near the Branch Avenue Metro Station and extends south through Prince George's County into the Waldorf and White Plains areas of Charles County. This area includes rapidly growing new communities as well as older suburbs and commercial centers in need of redevelopment. The entire corridor is auto-dependent and continues to grow in population and employment, leading to an expected increase in traffic congestion.
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) studied alternatives for a rapid transit system to serve the corridor offering a transportation option and an alternative to driving in heavy traffic. The Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Study selected an alignment and mode for a high capacity transit system on the MD 5/US 301 corridor between the Branch Avenue Metrorail station and the Waldorf-White Plains area. This study was a collaborative effort between MTA, Prince George's County, Charles County, and other stakeholders who share a vision for vibrant communities served by rapid transit in dedicated lanes along the corridor. The study activities were coordinated with ongoing planning activities by the State Highway Administration (SHA), and by Prince George's and Charles counties.
The study compared the various alternatives using the following criteria:
- Environmental impacts
- Community acceptance
- Costs – capital and operating
- Economic development potential