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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.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 1, 2006; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  intercounty connector  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Will You Drive on the ICC?
Next: Watch Out, Weekend Travelers


Interesting "5 reasons" listed! 3 Years ago, we had the chance to visit England, and found that we could get *everywhere* we wanted to go by Train (incredible service), Underground (never empty!), bus, or taxi. Public Transportation limited?? Depends on your viewpoint and what your desires are.


Posted by: Op3 | June 1, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I work near Baltimore, live in Silver Spring, and this past semester had grad class near Shady Grove at JHU's extension campus up there. I thought about the ICC just about everyday driving down 198 to avoid rush hour on 495/270.

In summary - I think it's a big waste of my tax dollars. With gas at $3/gallon and going NOWHERE but UP UP AND AWAY I think 3 billion to build a highway at the detrement to rail projects like the purple line (and the ICC ABSOLUTELY has been what has killed that project in the last 4 years) is totally foolish and short-sighted. By the time it's finished construction, I promise you gas will be at least $4.50/gal if not more, and rapidly headed towards $10 and beyond. The ICC clearly benefits a very elite, rich constituency more than anybody else.

As for what it will do for traffic... I think it will help until the new development in that area makes up for it within 3 years. Driving down 198 once a week, that corridor is very underdeveloped compared to anywhere else in the area, and this seems to be only because of the lack of a highway. Cars/Mass Transit/Highways/Development it's all really just a big ole supply and demand equation isn't it? People will tolerate a certain amount of headache driving to work, after that, most will crack and finally get on a train, some won't. If the highways are stopped at rush hour, and people can't get to work in less than 3 hours - EVENTUALLY development will slow or stop, because the real estate won't be able to sell - because no one will want to spend 3 hours in traffic every morning.

I think building more highways and enabling more sprawling development, rather than smart mass-transit oriented development, in a time when soon only the very rich will be able to afford driving, is so soo so so very dumb.. but hey, that's Erlich for ya (and more and more I'm realizing, that's Duncan for ya too).

Maryland has a very workable commuter rail system - it just isn't run right. Why not you ask? Because it's not run by the state, which should have an interest in serving it's population, it's run by amtrak and csx (dependign which line) which has an interest in their bottom line. I'm from NJ so I constantly draw NJ/MD comparisions... lets try for rail. MD has jam packed trains heading into DC at rush hour, proves that the system is viable. The Penn line has a consistently healthy ridership (i take it to work most days) mostly because of the airport. Once outside rush hour, there are fewer trains on the Penn line and almost none on the others. Outside 6am-9pm monday thru friday there are no MARC trains at all. Now, NJ Transit... Runs consistently M-F, 5am-11pm on every line. Runs saturdays and sundays on ALMOST every line. Runs to 1:30AM on a few lines. The result... the system is used by more than working commuters... mid-20's singles go into hoboken (big party town) or NYC on weekends, and nights - they don't have to DWI their way back home. NJT partners with fairs, events, etc.. around the state. People go to NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark for events on NJT. I think they even started running a bus from the secaucus station to the meadowlands, where the giants, jets, devils, and nets all play. Hoboken, NJ.. used to be a run down town... now its the biggest square mile of bars in the state... people FLOOD off those trains and into the bars every night and on weekends. Imagine what a useful commuter rail could do for Baltimore? How about Silver Spring once the new Transit Center is built? That is IF more RAIL connections are made to it that run until 1:30am... connect another MARC line to it perhaps... purple line... etc... The possibilities are endless... all while promoting SMART development, mass transit, lessening global oil dependency, etc...

$3billion could go a LONG LONG way towards non-highway projects. The ICC is short sighted, doesn't promote economic growth in the state, and benefits an ever decreasing elite.

Now, let's all elect O'Malley and get it thrown out the window! :) (Sadly, I don't think even that would stop it now)

Posted by: PJB | June 1, 2006 1:35 PM | Report abuse

More reasons why cars are better -- privacy. You don't have to listen to the idiotic conversations of the strangers sitting next to you, and you can sing along with the music on the stereo. And when you go shopping you don't have to limit yourself to only buying what you can carry home.

When I lived in NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia I took subways and buses everywhere. Having a car would have been a liability. After trying to live that way for a year in DC I gave up and bought my first car. I'll keep driving as long as I live here.

Posted by: Former mass transit rider | June 1, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

On the rebuttle of the man's list. On cost, with tolls and deprecation you are correct that driving is just about as much as mass transit. Time wise though, you are flat wrong.

Yes, if you travel at rush hour only mass transit might and I say might get you there as quickly, but other than that No way. Buses use the roads (hense same times), suburb to suburb travel via rail is slower, do to the hub and spoke nature of the metro. Even without a direct road travel from my home in Greenbelt to Gathersburg is 35 min by car, WMATA time table for the metro is 62 min.

While I think the ICC will do nothing to help trafic and only really increase sprawl. The fact is that there is no good East-West highway, that in the end is why the ICC will be built.

Posted by: Brian | June 1, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that now it may take much longer to get from Greenbelt to Gaithersburg via WMATA(rather than by car), that is exactly why some people support better public transportation. If there was a purple line that cut across MoCo and PG County, riding the metro from Greenbelt to Gaithersburg wouldn't require going into and out of the city. I don't know exactly how long it would take, but it would be shorter than the 62 minutes it currently takes. More metro lines(besides these straight in/straight out lines we have now) would greatly aid in suburb-to-suburb public transportation.

Posted by: James | June 1, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is the eastern terminus of the ICC so close to the DC Beltway? All the traffic heading eastbound on the ICC will just be stuffed back onto I-95 and the Beltway, both of which are already highly congested. If the ICC terminated closer to MD-32, it would help to foster movement between the I-270 corridor and BWI, as well as Anne Arundel county. Also, with the proposed expansion of Fort Meade, a MD-32 connection is an attractive proposal.

Posted by: GhettoBurbs | June 1, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I stand by my statement lol. The paraphrasing from 2003 saying that a portion of the cost will "likely" come from tolls isn't *confirmation* that any portion will in fact come from tolls.

Most people have expected a toll all along but *I* never heard possible toll rates discussed and a study on how much a toll the road could charge wasn't even conducted until after the road was approved just last year.

So count me among the folks with sticker shock when the ICC was finally brought to the counter and the true cost was finally displayed on the register.

Posted by: Tola | June 1, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

ANYTHING linking 270 to PG is a necessity. VCS Cats need a DIRECT link to the sweet Monkey County Poohsay

Posted by: HoeControlPatrol | June 1, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse


Check out the subsidies for transit. WMATA gets about a billion a year.

Posted by: billybob | June 1, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"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."

Check out the subsidies for transit. WMATA gets about a billion a year.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Why does the ICC make more sense than rail? The amount of time that it takes to get places. Should taxpayers subsidize another couple hundred million a year (like for metro) for a rail line (argument some make against the ICC) that is less effecient than a road, less able to get you to a variety of locations. It's already a pain in the rear to live here, if you have friends or family who live anywhere other than your neighborhood. Why are people trying to make it worse? The ONE resource that once it is gone you can't get back is time - and I throw away 15% of it a day on commuting, sometimes more, only because I can't afford something closer to my (current and former) job, which is not permanent, but the schools my kids go to I intend to be permanent. So thanks - I'm glad I won't be able to participate in my son's soccer league coaching when he's old enough or watch my daughter's dancing practices since I can't predict if it will take me 1 hour or 3 hours to get to them at night. Most of the parents around us are in the same predicament. Sad, these NIMBYs and closed minded selfish special interest people will keep a whole generation of kids from spending time with their parents. Maybe I should up and move away and leave the area to less productive people who care less about the population as a whole and only themselves. You can wallow in your own ego.

Posted by: Wastin' Time | June 2, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

You need to delete the defamatory comment by HoeControlPatrol...

Posted by: J. Henderson | June 2, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, Post editorial writers didn't get the memo. Like so many ICC articles written in recent years, this week's ICC editorial is silent on the subject of tolls:

Posted by: Dave | June 5, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I drive from Aspen Hill to Baltimore every day. I take Route 28/198 East, Route 29 North, Route 32 East, to I-95 North. It takes me 45-50 minutes. I don't pay a toll and rarely have any problems.

Why would I want to take an ICC that would take me in a southeasterly direction (toward Laurel and away from Baltimore)and would cost me money? I'm sure that even if the ICC does get built, many people will continue to take the route I take or some hybrid version, maybe getting off the ICC at Route 29 to head north (instead of toward Laurel!), in order to avoid a toll.

My point is that the existing routes to BWI and Baltimore are just fine. We don't need to spend billions, hurt the environment, and destroy communities.

By the way, global warming is real. Check out

Posted by: MeHere | June 7, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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