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Will You Drive on the ICC?

So it sure looks like Maryland is going to build the intercounty connector. After 50-some years of discussion the state is just a couple months away from turning dirt and a couple years away from opening for drivers. Read today's story on it here.

Which brings us to this question: Who's going to use it? Will you?

There is no shortage of opponents for this project and it makes one wonder if any of them will actually use the road when it opens in 2010. It's kind of like the Wal-Mart opponents. They often oppose a store, but when it opens in their neighborhood many of them find that they just can't stay away. The cheap prices and variety of goods are too much to resist. (Or maybe they have to shop there because every other store has gone out of business.) Will the time savings and convenience of the ICC be too much to resist as well?

Something to remember about using the ICC: Drivers will pay. State officials said they will decide on how much to toll in a couple years and the amount will change depending on when you use the highway. The ICC will have "managed pricing," which means that tolls will be higher when more people are on the road and lower when it's empty. So how much you'll pay depends on when you use it. And the more people who use it, the more you'll pay. The perk, state officials say, is that the ICC will never clog. If too many cars use it, the price will simply rise until everyone can get through.

So how about it folks? Are you psyched about the ICC or have you vowed to never drive on it?

Also, I'm still looking to tag along with some people who have awful commutes for a series of short stories we're doing on area drives. If you're interested, please e-mail me at ginsbergs@washpost.com.


By Washington Post Editors  |  May 31, 2006; 10:40 AM ET
 
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Comments

I would. I live in Gaithersburg and drive to BWI and friends near Baltimore fairly regularly. It's always been annoying that my only choices to get to I-95 are the Beltway, I-70 and zooming across 28/198.

Posted by: tallbear | May 31, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I would. I love Baltimore, but don't visit because it's a pain going down 270, then back up 95. I also think it will make it easier just going from place to place in the county. We've needed a true east-west route for a while.

Now, if only they would build a new Potomac river crossing...

Posted by: reid | May 31, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I will.

With the move of FDA to the RT 29 area in silver Spring and other developments, the ICC will be my daily commute from Gaithersburg.

Posted by: Henchal | May 31, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I would, as I live in Gaithersburg and often go to Baltimore and its suburbs. Usually I do that on the weekends, when the ICC would likely be less congested and thus, as I understand it, the toll would be lower.

Posted by: MHK919 | May 31, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I won't use it because I have an 8 minute commute, and yes, I'm bragging.

However, I have to say I'm very impressed with the toll-by-volume system. I assume it won't pay for 100% of the cost of the ICC, but it's nice that I won't have to pay (as much) for something I don't use.

Posted by: Sparky | May 31, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Use it? Rarely. I shoot straight down I-95 most days and wouldn't typically have much use for it. If I needed to get from say Howard County to Gaithersburg, it would more likely be on a Saturday morning for me rather than during AM and PM rush hour during the work week. Why on earth would I shell out a extra couple bucks to save a only couple of minutes? I wouldn't be in that big of a rush.

Posted by: Bawlamer | May 31, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It's nice that after years of powerful opposition of a few, democracy has won and the will of the people of Montgomery County is finally being served in the construction of this highway. I expect to use it occasionally when going between Rockville and Howard County.

Posted by: Eric | May 31, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I sincerely hope this bollocks will be paid for _entirely_ through tolls. I'm sick of the burbs stealing my money to create more useless 'burbs even farther out.

Posted by: Inter County Exurb Creator | May 31, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Let me start by saying that I live near the corner of Rockville Pike and Randolph Road. Judging by the map, the ICC will be just as inconvenient for me to head East as would be taking the beltway. There would be a decent number of miles and lights to go through just to get to the road. So, no, I don't think I'll really use it all that much.

That being said, it might encourage me to move further up 270. Or, maybe not 'encourage', so much as 'present another positive to doing so'.

Overall, I am THRILLED that they're building it. Anytime a new road, let alone a highway, is built around here, we should all be shouting from the newly constructed rooftops that are welcoming the people who crowd our current infrastructure.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | May 31, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I live inside the Capital Beltway in Bethesda. While I won't use the ICC much if at all I'm hopeful it will take some traffic off the Capital Beltway between I-95 and I-270 and aleviate some of the nightmarish traffic in the area.

Had Maryland and Virginia built the second outer Capital Beltway back in the 60s, as planned, we wouldn't have half the traffic problems we suffer today.

Posted by: KP | May 31, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I will.

My wife and I both work in the Shady Grove/270 area and live in Rockville. We always use alternatives to the beltway to get to 95.

Posted by: jbrink | May 31, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

No, but I hope pelnty of people would. I commute between Rockville and Tyson's. It will help especially with the afternoon traffic if the ICC takes some of the flow from the outer 495 onto 270N

Posted by: 20850 | May 31, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I opposed the ICC. In fact it was a major factor in what candidates I voted for. My reason is that more roads usually causes more building and the roads congest within 5 years of being built. I supported a public transportation alternative. That being said, if it is built I am sure it will become my main way to BWI, College Park, Ikea, etc. It will be a convenience but I am not sure in the long view it will help congestion.

Posted by: Gaithersburg homeowner | May 31, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I live right off Sam Eig Highway, and travel to BWI a lot. This will save a lot of time especially in the morning when I-270 South is like a parking lot.

Posted by: ekoh | May 31, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Even though I still am working part time at the age of 69 so I can continue to live in my house of 34 years in Montgomery County, I doubt that I will ever use the highway. Especially having to pay a toll. Just not in my limited budget. I just can't afford any more fees. Furthermore I have NEVER been a proponent of this highway because I just think it will make traffic WORSE instead of better.

Posted by: Old Lady | May 31, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Never. And Md residents should be ashamed as now even anti-transit Va is enacting a more progressive plan on how to spend $2 billion on transport (orange line expansion vs. ICC). For this amount of money Md could have done something great, but instead chose to build another highway. Congrats for applying 1950s logic in mid-2006.

Posted by: DinDC | May 31, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The Walmart analogy is totally inapt. Once a road is built, it is a public highway and drivers are going to use it even if they opposed it initially. That is different than a consumer making a choice as to which local merchant to shop at (assuming that a new Walmarts doesn't eventually force the closure of most of the local merchants!).
The opponents of the Connector had several reasons for their opposition. First, while it might make the commute easier for some people, it will do little in the long run to reduce the growth of traffic congestion on the Beltway. Second, it is an extremely expensive project and the money could have been spent on other transportation related projects that would arguably have more impact on congestion. Third, the project will have an extemely negative environmental impact on certain areas in the path of and adjacent to the Connector. And finally, it is really only an attempt by elected officials to appear to be doing something about traffic congestion while ignoring the underlying issue, our out-of-date and inadequate land development and land use policies.

Posted by: John | May 31, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"the powerful opposition of a few, democracy has won and the will of the people of Montgomery County is finally being served in the construction of this highway"

When the public finally learned that this will be a toll road that will cost multiple families their homes, will not diminish traffic on the Beltway, and will cost more than $3 billion, a poll showed a majority was opposed to the ICC. In my part of MoCo, nobody is in favor of the ICC.

The lies of Ehrlich, Flanagan and Duncan are finally being made public. This is not over.

Posted by: Mad In Maryland | May 31, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

No. One toll road is as bad an another. I avoid them all whenever possible.

Posted by: Steve | May 31, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

No, I will not use it, as it doesn't go in any direction I need to go.

However, I am glad the route avoids some of the enviromental destruction that was forecast.

Posted by: Naomi | May 31, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I will never use it, as I will never live outside the Beltway. I am happy that some people will shorten their trips to BWI, but to be honest, let's not pretend like this is going to lighten any of the load on the Beltway between 95 and 270. MOST of the traffic through this stretch is not commuting from Gaithersburg to BWI, but from DC to the suburbs and vice versa.

Go ahead and build it, but please don't be complaining in 5 years that the ICC did nothing to solve overall congestion problems in DC. It is not a panacea to MoCo's traffic problems.

Posted by: Chris | May 31, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If it gets me from Herndon to Laurel faster than the beltway, I don't care HOW much it costs. I will use it.

Posted by: JS | May 31, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I will most definately use the new road, as I live in Rockville and I prefer to fly from BWI.

Why they didn't just connect to MD rte. 32 near Columbia, however, and let 32 be the connection to Laurel too, I'll never understand? It probably would have been a little less road to build, and it would have killed 2 birds with one stone. One highway could have connected Rockville to Columbia AND Laurel and it would have intersected 95 further north of the beltway, and closer to BWI and the Ft. Meade area, which is projected to have an increase and jobs and housing.

Posted by: Justin | May 31, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Heck yes, I sure will use it, and it's only 40 years overdue, but you have to wonder - going forward, can the sacrifices of a few special interests keep the vast majority of the population hostage on every project that ever comes about? Good job, Washington Post, for making sure to highlight the few who are negatively impacted instead of reinforcing the fact a massive majority of the population today wants and needs this project, which says nothing of the future additional 1,000,000+ residents to the DC area. Finally, the majority wins. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Posted by: Steven | May 31, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

We'll probably use the ICC on the weekends, since we drive to Metro for our commute. I just hope it cuts down on the ever-increasing traffic on Bel Pre.

Posted by: MJ | May 31, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Why this is better than mass transit

1. You can use it anytime
2. You don't have to pay to park
3. You don't have a limited set number of destinations
4. It's much faster
5. You get to eat or drink if you want :)

Road beats transit everytime

More access more choices its commonsense

Posted by: Anonymous | May 31, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I definitely will. When I moved here 10 years ago I couldn't fathom how few freeways there are here (let alone bridges). I don't buy the environmental argument - in fact, I bet the ICC will cut down on wasted gas from idling cars and will be a net gain environmentally.

Posted by: Ed | May 31, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I challenge every person who says "no" to confess whether he or she lives near the planned route. My bet is almost everyone who says no is a NIMBY who unless they've owned their house since the 50s should've known better than to buy a house with the route right there in the record books.

Posted by: Ed | May 31, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I would recommend that anyone who has strong opinions about this project, on either side, do some research on the Blue Route (I-476) around Philadelphia. That section of road was built on the same basic principles and with the same basic opposition as there is to the ICC. I believe it's even similar in length.

As someone who used to live in Philly both before and after the Blue Route opened, I saw first hand how it a) spurred development, b) eased traffic on main highways, c) has become an integral part of Philadelphia transportation.

Believe me, I am always the first to tell everyone how different DC is than any other area of the country, yada, yada, yada, specifically when it comes to traffic. But if it looks like the Blue Route, and it smells like the Blue Route...

Posted by: Ex-Phillie | May 31, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I doubt I'll use it, since my regular commute is Columbia to Bowie.

I went from Columbia to Rockville for 3 years, so I know plenty of ways to go. Why pay?

Posted by: dynagirl | May 31, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think the ICC has its merits but the cost is overwhelming. If this means the end of proposed mass-transit projects like the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway (that is, if Bobby Haircut's election four years ago didn't already signal the end) then we are in big trouble down the road, so to say.

Here's to a new governor in 2006 who can get elected on more than one issue. Of course you can do what you promise if you only promise to do one thing.

Posted by: Dan | May 31, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, YES!!!

This thing has been on the books since my parents were in elementary school. It should have been built LONG ago. I grew up in Rockville, live in Greenbelt and visit family in Rockville and Frederick as often as I can. I be even happier to do so if I have the ICC as a choice. I voted ICC in the last cycle and will again.

And "mad in maryland," if you _read_ the signs that said Proposed Highway, Call for Information - then you wouldn't have bought a house that is going to get paved over. Needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few.

Posted by: PB03 | May 31, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I commute from Gaithersburg (near 370) to Columbia and College Park on a daily basis. Needless to say, I would love to see the ICC built. I'd also start switching all my flights from DCA to BWI, saving money, time, and hopefully easing the congestion on 270 a bit. Creating a metro line from the Red line to College Park (maybe on campus this time around) would have also helped.

Regarding the price of toll road, link the payments with the congestion...perhaps updating every 15 minutes. It's a great long term strategy. Otherwise, we'll have to read a news story each year about a small raise in the price of the toll. Just incorporate the price changes into the system from the beginning.

Posted by: Keith | May 31, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I won't pay a toll. It takes me 45 minutes to get from Aspen Hill to Baltimore. That's what I expect, and I deal with it, although I do wish public transportation were a convenient option.

"Needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few," wrote PB03. This is not always the fair outcome. Sometimes the majority suppresses the rights of the minority; that may be the case here (assuming the majority of residents truly want the ICC).

It's true that many of those who live near the planned route could or should have consulted the Master Plan before buying their homes. On the other hand, there are parts of the route (Cashell Estates in particular) that were not originally supposed to be affected; people there learned of the current plan only recently. And all along the route, many people moved in after Parris Glendening canceled the ICC--they had no way of predicting the project would get to this stage.

More generally, it doesn't make sense to build a six-lane highway so close to people's homes (especially Longmead). Why expose anyone to such pollutants?

Hopefully, the legal issues will delay or prevent construction of the ICC.

If it does get built, it will be an embarrassment for the region. It makes no sense to encourage long commutes (and the car culture in general) when the oil supply is dwindling.

Posted by: MeHere | May 31, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I live in Montgomery County. That's about as "near" as I live to it - probably 8 miles, as the crow flies. So for "Ed" who challenges those who say they won't drive it to say where they live - I live right off the Beltway in Silver Spring. Yes, the same Beltway that will allegedly see lighter traffic. I am against the ICC for two reasons. One, I agree that it should connect with 32 or 100 - closer to Fort Meade and BWI. People are talking about wanting to go to BWI from Gaithersburg - not to Laurel or College Park. Once they get to I-95, they'll still have 13 miles to go to BWI. That's not efficient at all. Two, this project has siphoned off the money for basically every other project in the state combined, including the Purple Line, Montrose Parkway, and a ton of other minor improvements around the state. I think that if voters were presented with an either/or (you can get the ICC...or all of these other projects), rather than a yes/no, that the "democratic majority" might shift a little.

Posted by: Joe | May 31, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I've been keeping up with this debate since I lived near it's intended path and this is the first confirmation that it will be a toll road. I wonder if there would have been as much support if this was stated from the beginning.

I don't live anywhere near the route now but I wouldn't use it if I had stayed at my old house. Rte 198 served me well for east-west travel though I rarely had to use it during rush hour.

Posted by: Tola | May 31, 2006 8:03 PM | Report abuse

well i'll say no because i live in georgia now, but as a resident of maryland for 22 years, 18 of them in montgomery county, i know i'd never use it if i were up there. ginsberg just confuses the issue by asking the question that way, though, as if one might have principled opposition to driving on a road. i just think there aren't that many people driving that route more than an occasional trip to bwi.

as for ehrlich, my sense is that he might benefit with some in upcounty, have a neutral effect in most places, and have a bunch of people around the state mad at him for siphoning money away from everything to build this highway.

Posted by: andrew | May 31, 2006 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Heck yes, I would use it! This freakin' road has been cussed and discussed since I can remember and it's about time it got built. I commute from Germantown to Fort Meade every Monday thru Friday so that's at least one less car clogging parts of the Beltway between I-270 and I-95 on weekdays during rush hour!!!

Posted by: Hamilton | May 31, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I feel like the ICC could become something analogous to the forthcoming new Wilson Bridge(s): it's a transportation improvement in the short run that will most likely become clogged very quickly with development around it. We need to ease gridlock, and I don't think paving another road will necessarily do it. How about encouraging businesses to set up shops closer to residental areas so people don't have to drive farther? Or a greater promotion of teleworking and/or split shifts? Or people start moving closer to their jobs?

I'll console myself by thinking at least this shouldn't be as wasteful as the Big Dig in Boston.

Posted by: Chris L | May 31, 2006 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm counting the days until it's ready! If only they'd continue it west and make it the start of an outer Beltway (like Raleigh, NC has)!

Posted by: ChickieBaby | June 2, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Lets be serious here...there are some places in MD where taking the metro is out of the question. I commute from Gaithersburg to Fort Meade everyday (38 miles one way). It makes absolutely no sense to drive down 270 around 495 up 95 and then take 32. Better yet, lets try option 2...Rt 108 (if your not caught behind a slow driver) and then 32. Option 3 is totally out of the question...270 to 70 to 29? That's ridiculous! The ICC will also allow me to live in MoCo and not have to consider moving closer to my work place. I plan on using the ICC everyday I don't care what it cost. I can't wait!

Posted by: HurryUpAlready | June 5, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

To HurryUpAlready:
Your list of options for getting to Fort Meade is missing one:
From Gaithersburg, take
Gude Drive East
Norbeck Rd (Route 28) East
Route 198 East
Route 29 North
Route 32 East.

It works well. No toll to pay!

Posted by: MeHere | June 7, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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