The House approved a bill yesterday that would allow the construction of a crucial access road from Interstate 295 to the Port- America project, a multimillion-dollar riverfront development planned south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George's County.
The bill, which was passed by voice vote, would transfer 55 acres of park land without cost from the federal government to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The agency is responsible for developing parks and recreational facilities in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
The land, currently under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, will be used for an access road, park and recreational purposes. It is adjacent to PortAmerica site, in the vicinity of the Capital Beltway, near I-95 and I-295 at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who sponsored the legislation, said that the project, which is to include office buildings, restaurants, shops and expensive residences, will result in 9,300 jobs in Prince George's County and about $2.5 million in annual tax revenues for the county.
Hoyer said that of all the bills he has worked on since coming to Congress, "there is not one bill that I can think of . . . that will have such a profound impact on the economy, the reputation and the future growth of Prince George's County" as the transfer authorization.
A Senate committee is expected to consider a similar bill in the next two weeks.
The County Council has already approved the development, but that approval was contingent on getting the federal land. Details of the project still have to be approved by the county planning board.
County officials also are trying to work out a plan for funding the access road, using a combination of money from the developer and state and federal sources.
The Interior Department said it had no objections to the free transfer of land. In a recent letter, Interior officials said they concluded that outright sale of the property "would provide only minimal revenue."