Construction to start on Maryland's $2.4b Inter County Connector Toll Road this week
By Peter Samuel
Maryland State Highway Administrator (MdSHA) has given contractors the OK to start construction work on the first part of the 30km (18.8mi) long $2.4b InterCounty Connector (ICC) tollroad. The ICC is an east-west connector mainly located in Montgomery County about 10km (6 miles) north of the Beltway (I-495) and about 23km (14 miles) north of the White House.
It goes from I-370 at present a short spur off I-270 near Gaithersburg at the western end in direction a bit south of east across upper Montgomery County to I-95 and US1 near Laurel in Prince Georges County. The route is already considerably developed but around beyond the eastern end there is a major densification under way, a lot of it associated with the military's Fort Meade complex and the Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport. Although the ICC has been touted as relieving traffic on the Beltway (240k veh/day) its main impact will be to the north of the Beltway in improving connectivity across a stretch of developed suburbs presently served by meandering and dangerous 2-lane roads - little more than bituminized country lanes.
Construction is moving in five contracts eastward. Contract A for $479m covers 11km (7 miles) and involves widening part of existing I-370 and then building 3+3 lane to Georgia Avenue MD97 along with four interchanges. Construction equipment including dump trucks will be largely confined to haul roads on the right of way and to state designated and interstate routes. Construction work is limited to 7am to 7pm (0700 to 1900) to limit the noise for residents nearby. Most of the project has had a planned corridor reserved against development for 40 years but construction was fought fiercely.
Opponents have still not entirely given up. Law suits by environmentalists remain to be dealt with, even though the federal record of decision recognizing all permits in place was obtained in the spring of 2006. An agreement reached last week allows some work to begin but delays construction at creek crossings until the agreement expires Nov 12 - to give time for the court to hear the final appeals.
A spokesman for State governor Martin O'Malley (Dem) said Friday: "The ICC is a project that has been studied for the last 50 years. The governor feels it is time to move forward."
Momentum for getting the road to the construction stage was achieved by O'Malley's predecessor Robert Ehrlich who was elected in 2002 on promises of getting the road under way by the conclusion of his term.
The ICC is being built by the State Highway Administration, but tolling and toll based financing will be by the Maryland (Toll) Transportation Authority. (MdTA)
The ICC will be the first all electronic toll (AET) road in the eastern US. It will have no cash collection and only highway speed transponder and video toll collection.
Opening of the road is scheduled for 2011.
The ICC will need to be extended further east to improve connections to Ft Meade and BWI and west across the Potomac River to the Dulles Airport area.
But the major current focus is defeating the congestion coalition of environmentalists and getting this project under way.
project website is