The ICC Wins
Thirty-nine people -- a new Get There record! -- wrote in yesterday to vote on whether they would drive on the ICC. The results of this completely scientific, totally definitive, irrefutable poll show that 19 people said they would at least occasionally drive the highway and nine said never, not a chance, fugettaboutit, go fly a kite. So I think we can definitively declare that two-thirds of people love the ICC more than their own mothers. Some of the other responses were too difficult to put in one column or the other, such as "20850" who said no to using the highway but hoped other people would.
As usual, any discussion of the ICC brings out a lot of strong feelings -- and strongly expressed misconceptions. Let me address a few of my favorites here.
Tola wrote: "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."
Well, not exactly. My colleague, Katie Shaver, first wrote a story about this in 2003 and we've talked tolls ever since. This is the beginning of her story from nearly three years ago:
"Maryland planners estimate that building an east-west highway in Montgomery and Prince George's counties would cost about $1.7 billion, with one-third of that likely coming from tolls, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan told a state panel yesterday."
The toll argument is one that opponents have been bringing up a lot lately, with the suggestion that it has just appeared. "Mad in Maryland" wrote: " 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.
Sorta. The poll "Mad" refers to was limited to registered Montgomery County Democrats who plan to vote in their party's gubernatorial primary in the fall. Not exactly a countywide sample. The poll found that 59 percent of these Dems supported the highway at the outset of the poll and 46 percent after a series of questions highlighting some of the traffic impacts of the road and projected toll costs.
"KP" wrote that she hopes the highway takes some traffic off the Beltway. Best to limit those hopes. Even state officials acknowledge this won't be the case. If some Beltway traffic is diverted, they expect it to refill quickly with drivers who now use secondary roads.
An anonymous poster said that the highway is better than mass transit because:
"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 :)"
Lessee. 1. You can use Metro until midnight during the week and 3 a.m. on weekends. So not anytime, but pretty close. And other highways aren't exactly jammed at those hours if you need to get somewhere.
2. You don't have to pay to park, but you do have to pay tolls. And for gas. (And for the car.) Seems like an easy win for mass transit.
3. True. Between subway and bus, though, you can get most anywhere, with the exception of private homes. But I think we can all agree that sometimes nothing beats a car.
4. Totally debatable and dependent on where you're going. The subway is pretty close to a sure thing, whereas driving can get you stuck for hours and hours.
5. Yep, you sure do. Best transportation argument I've heard in years.
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