Maryland ICC to toll cars 10c to 35c/mile - first all-electronic tollroad in eastern US
By Peter Samuel
Maryland's Intercounty Connector (ICC or MD200) in the northern suburbs of Washington DC metro area will manage free flow with tolls that could vary between 10c/mile and 35c/mile (6c/km to 22c/km) for cars. Beverley K Swaim-Staley, Maryland (Toll) Transportation Authority (MdTA) chair and state secretary of transportation made the announcement this morning following a staff proposal Sept 23 and a 60-day public comment period.
MdTA's board today approved what they called "tolling parameters":
- peakhour (6-9am, 4-7pm) weekday excluding federal holidays tolls for cars in range 25c to 35c/mile (16c to 22c/km)
- offpeak 20c to 30c/mile (12c to 18c) for cars
- smallhours night 11pm to 5am 10c to 30c/mile (6c to 18c/km) for cars
- minimum toll to be the greater of 40c and 2-miles (3.2km) of the toll rate
- actual toll per trip to be rounded up to the nearest 5c (nickel)
- vehicles without a transponder will be identified by camera and reference to motor registry databases and the owner mailed a Notice of Toll Due for the trip adding to the toll a $3 video toll fee
- motorcycles pay car toll rates but toll rates over 2 axles go up sharply 3-axles=3.0x 2-axle rate, 4-axles=4.5x 2-axle rate, 5-axles=6.0x 2-axle rate, 6-axles=7.5x 2-axle rate.
Possible early promotion on video toll bills to promote transponders
MdTA may do a transponder 'promotion' early on when the Notice of Toll Due fee of $3 can be applied toward establishing a transponder (E-ZPass) account.
10 days notice of rate change within range
Dynamic pricing will not be applied, at least not initially.
Toll rates will be set by MdTA executive secretary within the authority-approved ranges, and periodically adjusted by the executive secretary with ten days notice of a proposed change in toll rates.
Changes in the rate ranges will be made by the board of MdTA after a formal staff proposal and the standard 60-day public comment period.
MdTA executive secretary Ronald L. Freeland is quoted: "Considering inflation since 2004, the approved toll-rate ranges are comparable to those used for discussion during the National Environmental Policy (NEPA) study."
The ICC toll rates are comparable with the highest in north America, although some very high per mile rates occur when a motorist goes through a conventional mainline toll plaza and exits quickly - rather than takes the longest trip allowable for the toll paid.
Northern Virginia Dulles Greenway tolls at $4.50 at the mainline plaza in peakhours, $3.90 offpeak at the full 14 miles to Leesburg that works out to 32c/mile (20c/km) and 28c/mile (17c/km) for the full distance, but many motorists spread that toll over shorter trips making the per mile toll much higher. (TO BE REVISED - part of the Greenway toll in fact goes to MWAA's Dulles Toll Road)
Dulles Toll Road tolls are also rising sharply under airport management.
Toronto's all-electronic 407ETR peakhour tolls are C19.63c/km or about US 28.4c/mile. Offpeak tolls are C 18c/km or about US$ 26c/mile. 407ETR has a video toll charge of C$3.25 - very similar to the MD/ICC charge of US$3.
91 Express Lanes in California have tolls as high as 99c/mile but only for one hour a week one direction but several other hours with tolls in the 70s and 80s cents/mile eastbound but most peakhour peak direction tolls are in the 40s and 50s cents/mile.
Most metro area US public toll authorities are somewhere in the teens or low 20s cents/mile. North Texas for example is 14.5c/mile transponder (9c/km) and 21.8c/mile cash (13c/km).
Massachusetts Turnpike Boston Extension tolls work out at 21.2c/mile (13.2c/km) with the $2 transponder toll at Weston for the full the 9.4mi trip to I-93 in downtown Boston and 26.6c/mile cash (16.5c/km). Rates per mile of course are much higher if you hop off short of downtown Boston to go to say MIT or Harvard.
BACKGROUND: The ICC project was proposed, developed, permitted, and successfully fought for by the Maryland State Highway Administration against unscrupulous and protracted environmentalist opposition, but with broad public support. It is now being built by contractors under five major contracts for Maryland State Highway Administration.
Toll revenue bonds issued by the Maryland (Toll) Transportation Authority (MdTA) provide about half the $2.5b capital cost, tax money the rest. MdTA will operate the tollroad when it opens and carry the operations and maintenance costs and take responsibility for the toll-linked debt they floated.
The ICC is about 18.8 miles (30.3km) long extending from near I-270 in Gaithersburg making use of a short existing I-370 spur to the Metrorail terminus of Shady Grove heading east and south east through Montgomery County to I-95 and US1 just inside Prince Georges County near Laurel. It will provide valuable east-west connectivity across a county with nearly a million people on a reservation quite centrally located.
It should have been called the Montgomery Intra County Connector. It will mostly put traffic from 2 and 4 lane signalized arterials - roads that are little more than paved over country lanes - onto an expressway standard facility. It will also collect some traffic that is 'inter-county' and presently goes down to the Capital Beltway on trips out of Montgomery County to the many defense and intelligence establishments between Washington and Baltimore, and to Baltimore Washington International Airport.
It is 2x3 travel lanes and has nine interchanges.
The first segment to open will be I-370 to MD97 the most westerly, 5.7mi (9.1km) in fall 2010.
MD97 to I-95 is due to open end-2011, early 2012.
Work has been deferred on the short stretch I-95 to US1 and planned collector-distributor lanes along I-95 on either side of the ICC interchange.
20 buses have been ordered for transit service along the ICC and will make connections to the many rail transit stops along the corridor.
COMMENT: the differential between peak and offpeak toll rate ranges looks to us rather small, but motorists' sensitivity to different toll rates is not easily predicted, and pricing will have to be experimental within those ranges. And then the ranges may need adjustment.
Also it is great to see this important road take shape at last. It took great courage and perserverance on the part of state highways leaders and elected officials to overcome the reactionary greens who fought a long battle to stop it. Their well-deserved defeat is cause for celebration.
The ICC will be the closest tollroad to TOLLROADSnews in Frederick MD - 20 to 30 minutes drive down I-270.