ICC toll road opens to traffic
Video: The sun rises on the ICC
ICC traffic cameras
[This post will be updated]
The region's newest toll road, the Intercounty Connector, welcomed almost 19,000 vehicles in its first day of use, according to preliminary counts from the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The first segment of the region's newest toll road, the Intercounty Connector, opened to traffic Wednesday morning, linking the Interstate 270 corridor with Georgia Avenue. The new highway's official designation is MD 200.
The westbound lanes opened at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday; the eastbound lanes followed at 3:20, according to Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority. The first car traveled the road at 3:30 a.m., she said.
"So far, so good, " she said Maryland Secretary of Transportation Beverly Swaim-Staley, but added, "It'll take awhile for people to get used to the new patterns at each end of the roadway there."
Driving from I-270 to Georgia Avenue at 5:45 a.m. took about six minutes -- a trip that highway officials said usually takes 23 minutes using side roads during the morning rush.
Around 6 a.m., ICC traffic was sparse, with the road wide open. Local roads such as Georgia Avenue and Norbeck Road, where residents say they are concerned about back-ups from ICC traffic trying to enter and leave the highway, had no significant problems as of 7 a.m.
By 7:45 a.m. traffic had picked up but there was still plenty of wide open pavement. Traffic in the "slow" lane of the westbound side traveled at 65 miles per hour -- the posted speed limit is 55 mph -- with plenty of motorists zipping past at 75 mph and faster. Motorists slowed upon seeing the flashing red and blue lights of a transportation authority police cruiser parked beneath an underpass.
Early data showed that 18,895 vehicles had traveled the highway between 3 a.m. and 2 p.m. The highest one-hour total was between 2 and 3 p.m., when the counts for travel in both directions reached 2,376.
Drivers were enjoying a free trial run on the new highway. Tolls, which kick in March 7, will be 60 cents to $1.45 for passenger vehicles, depending on the time of day. Those prices will increase to up to $6.15 to travel the entire 18.8-mile highway after it opens to Interstate 95 in Prince George's by spring 2012. The ICC toll rates are among the highest in the United States.
The ICC, which also will be known as Route 200, is Maryland's first all-electronic toll road. With no toll booths, payment will be collected at highway speeds via vehicles' EZ-Pass transponders. Those without a transponder will be mailed a "notice of toll due" and charged a $3 service fee. That fee will be waived until April 6, officials said.
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