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Movement on ICC, in Both Directions

While a new challenge is being raised to construction of the intercounty connector, Maryland is continuing to clear a path for it.

One of the many issues involved in building the intercounty connector across the Washington suburbs has been where to put the National Capital Trolley Museum, which will be in the highway's path in Montgomery County.

The Maryland State Highway Administration announced on Tuesday that it has given the museum $100,000 to start planning for its relocation. New buildings and tracks for the museum will eventually be built within Northwest Branch Park, north of Silver Spring.

The museum is now at 1313 Bonifant Road in Wheaton, also within Northwest Branch Park boundaries. If you go there, you can see 13 old streetcars, scale models and photographs that recapture a bygone era of Washington's transit history. The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and also has programs for students.

"SHA is working with the museum to make sure the relocation is smooth and families will continue to create lasting memories," SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said in a statement.

Today, groups opposed to the ICC are holding a press conference along the highway's right of way to announce the filing of two lawsuits challenging the studies by the federal and state governments that cleared the way for construction.

They say the studies failed to address reasonable alternatives to meeting traffic demand while protecting the environment.

Highway opponents also speculate that a new governor in Annapolis and a new county executive and council in Rockville could decide to stop the highway project.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 20, 2006; 6:36 AM ET
Categories:  intercounty connector  
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Next: Advisories For the Holidays

Comments

I think NIMBY is no longer a strong enough term to describe the people who oppose any road improvements anywhere in the DC area. I think we should start calling them BANANAs: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.

Posted by: Rich | December 20, 2006 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I wish all that energy was going toward something useful. The traffic is here. This is only a discussion about where it goes.

Posted by: Gary Masters | December 20, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Like not building the ICC will improve traffic? What's our alternative, Metro? Metro is a complete joke.

Posted by: Fred | December 20, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I've always expected the ICC to be delayed because of oppoNUT lawsuits.

After all, they are a bunch of spoiled crybabies and sore losers who are determined to get their way, and who refuse to accept the fact that most people want the ICC to be built.

And there WILL be more than one lawsuit, because the oppoNUTS won't accept defeat. First, they will go judge-shopping for a judge they can sway. When that fails, they will appeal. When that appeal fails, they will file MORE appeals.

The oppoNUTs filed repeated lawsuits to stop the new Wilson Bridge. They tried every angle - environmental impact, the cost (which BTW, nearly doubled, thanks to the delays caused by their lawsuits), the "need" to further study "alternatives", neighborhood opposition, you name it. They even tried to use the bridge's proximity to Reagan National as grounds for a suit. They filed repeated appeals - and lost every time. It took the rejection of their umpteenth appeal by the US Supreme Court to make them finally give up.

BTW, BOTH Wilson Bridge spans were originally planned to have been completed a year ago.

But we'll be living with the traffic delays (and attendant pollution) caused by Wilson Bridge construction for the next two years. You can thank the "concerned" environmentalists at the Sierra Club and elsewhere for that.

Expect the same delays to starting and completing the ICC, thanks to the oppoNUTS.

Someone quite knowledgable once posted in another discussion that oppoNUT obstructionists just might be guilty of violating the RICO Act. I wish somebody in the legal system had the b*** to look into it.

And just where do they get the money to file all those lawsuits?

As for the oppoNUTS' hoping O'Malley and Leggett will kill the ICC, I personally asked O'Malley what he planned to do when he was on Kojo Nnamdi's show just before the election. He assured me - and the listeners - of his support for the ICC and his comittment to complete the project. Remember that.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

CEEAF - Wow, you're not going to convince anyone on the fence (me for example) that the pro-ICC way is the way to go by name calling. Really mature.

Posted by: imgoph | December 20, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"But we'll be living with the traffic delays (and attendant pollution) caused by Wilson Bridge construction for the next two years."

Five years, actually. While the second bridge is to open in 2008, the associated construction of interchanges and such is not supposed to be done until 2011.

Posted by: Rich | December 20, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

There is a certain irony to the fact that a museum devoted to the days of intelligent transportation methods, and the tools used in the those methods is being bumped to allow idiots in their Imperial Canyoneros (4mpg, but with the olympic sized pool option!) to drive to an easily walkable grocery store.

Well, walkable if they bothered putting in sidewalks.

I love irony.

Posted by: John | December 20, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"Like not building the ICC will improve traffic? What's our alternative, Metro? Metro is a complete joke."

There is a mindset prevalent among many in this region when it comes to addressing traffic issues: "Let's do ANYTHING but build a highway and let's start with building rail".

Don't laugh, but ICC opponents, especially the environmentalists, are pushing the Purple Line as an "alternative". So what if the planned routes are up to 12 miles apart? Doesn't matter. It's rail and not a road and that's all that matters to them.

As a matter of fact, the Sierra Club paid an "urban transportation consulting firm" from VERMONT of all places, to "find" that the ICC wouldn't releive Beltway traffic (it's not meant to) and the Purple Line is a viable alternative.

Not to mention their tactics of importing people from all over to pack hearings and falsely claim they are Maryland residents who oppose the ICC. I've even had some of them show up at my door with petitions.

These people have no stake in the ICC other than having it stopped. They neither live, work, vote, commute, nor pay taxes in Maryland.

And note that the Post gives them free publicity. Whenever the Post reports news about the ICC, they include a quote from one of the more vocal opponents - usually a environmentalist group spokeseperson or Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition For (what THEY say is) Smarter Growth.

Schwartz BTW, has never met a road he didn't oppose. Whenever plans for a road are announced, Schwartz immediately holds a press conference and talks about "alternatives" that don't even make sense. And the Post quotes him, word for word.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"CEEAF - Wow, you're not going to convince anyone on the fence (me for example) that the pro-ICC way is the way to go by name calling. Really mature."

Well, Imgoph, the REALLY "mature" thing is saying you're on the fence and you can't be convinced with facts.

Sorry if you don't like the truth, but the ICC opponents, particularly the environmentalists, don't have a leg to stand on. The repeated studies THEY demanded have proven them wrong, so now they're going to court - THAT'S "really mature", isn't it?

Someone must have forgotten to tell these "really mature" environmentalists that vehicles stuck in traffic on an inadequate road network pollute (Duh!).

And somehow they've missed - or ignored - the fact that $14 billion plus subsidies spent on Metro and 30 years of canceling highways in favor of Metro have given us the nation's third-worst congestion.

In simple terms, Metro alone has not met our needs and continuing to cancel roads and build nothing but rail is a fool's errand.

But environmentalists are not the least bit interested in relieving congestion and reducing its attendant pollution. In fact, they want congestion to get WORSE, because their goal is force people onto transit by making driving as difficult as possible.
That's why they oppose every road and that's why they insist that every penny of transportation money be spent on expensive, marginally effective rail transit

You're damn straight - they're "really mature".

So while you're sitting on your fence remaining "unconvinced", thank the Sierra Club and the Audobons the next time your hear about a Code Red air quality day.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

To the flamers, Imgoph included:

I call a person who vigorously opposes progress for selfish reasons after being proven wrong and in spite of the greater good an oppoNUT.

An oppoNUT can't be reasoned with. Facts mean nothing to them. They MUST get their way EVERY time.

As a matter of fact, a spokeperson of one of the environmentalist groups was quoted in the Post as saying (paraphrased) "We don't want to see the ICC redesigned to make it less intrusive. We want it stopped, period".

Like Imgoph said, really mature.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

"I love irony"

So do I. Especially the irony that people who advocate implementing 19th-century technology to address a 21st-century problem call their position "intelligent".

Nostalgia is nice, but there is too much data that proves trolleys -"light rail" in today's parlance - have failed their mission to significantly address congestion. I'll be happy to provide you with some links.

Let's move the museum to an accessible location and get on with the ICC. Enough with the whining and delaying tactics, already.

The opponents have had 56 years to make their case. They failed. Get over it.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

""But we'll be living with the traffic delays (and attendant pollution) caused by Wilson Bridge construction for the next two years."

Five years, actually. While the second bridge is to open in 2008, the associated construction of interchanges and such is not supposed to be done until 2011."

In other words, opponents will have done more damage and cost us more in wasted time, lost productivity, wasted fuel, air pollution, and diminished quality of life than I imagined.

Thanks for giving us the facts.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

oppuNUTs would still be impeding the Beltway if they had been allowed to. That is the solution. They will not be allowed to impede the ICC. One way or another.

Posted by: Steve | December 20, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If the ICC survives a NEPA challenge, which I pray it does not, residents of Montgomery County will be shocked at the disruptive nature and scale of the construction process. Folks in Olney (who have not read the Environmental Impact Statement) will be agast when they realize a mammoth cloverleaf only a few hundrred yards from HW108 and Georgia Avenue will draw streams of traffic from the suburbs to this freeway access point. Surely our new governor and Montgomery County Executive can be pursuaded to halt this folly.

Posted by: Phil | December 20, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

well, CEEAF, i'm not sure what i've done to warrant being called a "flamer", but i will say that your apparent willingness to stick to an orthodoxy of "the hell with metro, it and all rail are terrible" sounds just as one-sided and unflexible to me as those you've labeled oppoNUTs. you've used inflamatory language in this forum, unprompted by another's invective, plain and simple. i would like to have an honest discussion of the merits to both sides of this argument, but your initial foray leads me to believe that you're not willing to start from a point of honest skepticism and openness. if i'm reading you incorrectly, i apologize, but i promise i won't hurl epithets at you.

Posted by: imgoph | December 20, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"If the ICC survives a NEPA challenge, which I pray it does not, residents of Montgomery County will be shocked at the disruptive nature and scale of the construction process. Folks in Olney (who have not read the Environmental Impact Statement) will be agast when they realize a mammoth cloverleaf only a few hundrred yards from HW108 and Georgia Avenue will draw streams of traffic from the suburbs to this freeway access point. Surely our new governor and Montgomery County Executive can be pursuaded to halt this folly. "

Sorry, Phil, but that argument doesn't hold up.

The ICC has been on the planning boards for over 50 years. Builders in and near the path of the ICC were from long ago required to advise potential buyers of the possibility that the ICC would come.

Anyone who is "agast" and "shocked" about the "disruptive nature and scale of the construction process" has themselves to blame for their "predicament". Somethin about a little thing called "due diligence".

Question: Why don't we ever hear the same whining, bleating, and braying about the "disruptive nature and scale" of Metro construction? Are you aware that no road ever built or proposed in this region, INCLUDING THE ICC, was as "disruptive" as the Orange Line construction in North Arlington or the Green Line construction through Shaw and Petworth?

I would really like one of the ICC opponents to clear that up. Any thoughts?

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

So all that traffic accessing a new road will be completely new to the area? Let's see... I'd prefer to have all that excess traffic taken off my street and put on an intelligently designed expressway. As for the rail 'alternative,' I think it stands to reason that they serve different purposes. Metro does not help me drive from Frederick to Baltimore, and it never will. Metro does not help me drive from Frederick to Fairfax, and it never will. Metro doesn't get people from Gaithersburg to Columbia... and while the beltway does allow that, a highway connecting the two areas can only help. I just don't see how people who know anything about traffic in this area can say that a highway to avoid the beltway wouldn't relieve traffic on the beltway.

-Steve

Posted by: mcrochip | December 20, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Question: Why don't we ever hear the same whining, bleating, and braying about the "disruptive nature and scale" of Metro construction? Are you aware that no road ever built or proposed in this region, INCLUDING THE ICC, was as "disruptive" as the Orange Line construction in North Arlington or the Green Line construction through Shaw and Petworth?

I would really like one of the ICC opponents to clear that up. Any thoughts?

That one is easy: Let's pick an existing freeway, since the ICC isn't yet built... But, would people pay a premium to live near a subway line, once it's done? Look at what metro did for property values along the green line thru Shaw, or the orange line thru Arlington. Now, would people pay a premium to live on a major highway?

If it wasn't an either-or situation, I would be for the ICC. But when budget folks are saying that the ICC will probably wipe out the MD construction budget for the better part of a decade, I have major issues with it. I'd rather have the 100 small improvements that will actually solve something than 1 big one that's questionable, at best.

And if they're going to build the thing, at least connect it to Route 32, an already existing freeway that gets you a lot closer to BWI.

Posted by: Joe | December 20, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, much of this delay (and the delay has cost all of us a great deal of money) is caused by folks who absolutely refuse to give up in the face of solid arguments. Whether or not you understand that the primary problem with the ICC is that it should have been open 10 years ago, or that any road is a disaster, at some point you need to stop being a self serving, self righteous egotist. The problem is that we have a culture of "I'm right and you d**n well better agree with me!"

BTW, there was a great deal of whining about the metro and construction in one location, Georgetown. So much so that they never went there. Now, of course, the folks in the worlds most expensive slum are begging for a Metro station...Talk about irony.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 20, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50 - That's an urban legend about a georgetown metro station. read "The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro" by Zachary M. Schrag and you'll see that the reason a georgetown stop was never built was for geological reasons. the need to tunnel under the potomac precluded the possibility of building a station in georgetown. the slope of the tunnel would be too great for the trains.

Posted by: imgoph | December 20, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The Metrorail with a connecting link between the Western Montgomery County and Prince George's County would be the least intrusive and a less expensive solution to solving the existing transportation problem. It would serve the environment and affected communities better than ICC, which will destroy the environment and the character of the neighborhoods that it tramples through. I hope O'Malley is smart enough to reconsider . . .

Posted by: Citizen for Smart Transportation | December 20, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

" i will say that your apparent willingness to stick to an orthodoxy of "the hell with metro, it and all rail are terrible" sounds just as one-sided and unflexible to me as those you've labeled oppoNUTs"

Imgomph, sorry for any misunderstanding.

For the record, I'm NOT anti-Metro. I use it myself when it makes sense - and it often does.

My problem with Metro is the mindset, prevalent among many - that Metro has made a comprehensive road and freeway network unnecessary.

For 30+ years, planners and politicians have allowed themselves to be bullied by transit advocates and road opponents to cancel more planned highways than were built and invest almost soley in rail. We're living with the results.

The truly one-sided and inflexible mindset is the response we get WHENEVER the issue of traffic congestion is discussed or a new road is proposed.

As I mentioned, the first response among too many is "let's do anything but build a road and let's start with building rail". The stubborn opposition to the ICC and the absolutely silly argument that the Purple Line is an "alternative" is a case in point. And don't get me started on Dulles rail.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"That one is easy: Let's pick an existing freeway, since the ICC isn't yet built... But, would people pay a premium to live near a subway line, once it's done? Look at what metro did for property values along the green line thru Shaw, or the orange line thru Arlington. Now, would people pay a premium to live on a major highway?"

This one is even easier: Loudon County, the fastest-growing and richest county in the US has no rail transit. It does however, have plenty of road access. And guess what: the greatest growth, new luxury home development, and increase in property values has been along Route 7 and the Greenway (a privately-owned toll road). So much for the "Now, would people pay a premium to live on a major highway?" argument.

"What metro did for property values along the green line thru Shaw, or the orange line thru Arlington" came at a heavy price. The "Orange Line and Green Line construction displaced moderate-income homeowners and killed small businesses.

"If it wasn't an either-or situation, I would be for the ICC. But when budget folks are saying that the ICC will probably wipe out the MD construction budget for the better part of a decade, I have major issues with it."

Then you should also have major issues with Dulles rail, considering it will cost four times as much as the ICC to build, plus PERPETUAL operating subsidies.

And don't think living in Maryland will immunize you from paying for Dulles rail. There's that little bugaboo, operating subsidies.

That's why I get real mad with people who come over from Virginia to tell us we must do without the ICC, take the Purple Line as a consolation, all while we help pay to build and operate Dulles rail.

" I'd rather have the 100 small improvements that will actually solve something than 1 big one that's questionable, at best."

So would I, and we can.

FYI, making an issue of cost of the ICC is a red herring, considering the money is already in place, the Feds are picking up half the tab, and much of the remaining cost will be deferred with tolls. Don't be fooled by the whining about the cost.

"And if they're going to build the thing, at least connect it to Route 32, an already existing freeway that gets you a lot closer to BWI."

Makes sense to me.

If it were my call, it would connect Route 32 with I-370 and a bridge to Route 28 in Virginia. Thank your environmentalists and your Potomac NIMBY neighbors for standing in the way.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"Unfortunately, much of this delay (and the delay has cost all of us a great deal of money) is caused by folks who absolutely refuse to give up in the face of solid arguments. Whether or not you understand that the primary problem with the ICC is that it should have been open 10 years ago, or that any road is a disaster, at some point you need to stop being a self serving, self righteous egotist. The problem is that we have a culture of "I'm right and you d**n well better agree with me!" "

One of the most sensible comments I've seen.

And your point about opponents is spot-on.

The opponents, especially the environmentalists and transit advocates, think they know better than everyone else what's best for all of us.

The irony is many of them don't work and don't commute. That's why they have the time to pack community hearings and file lawsuits.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"the need to tunnel under the potomac precluded the possibility of building a station in georgetown. the slope of the tunnel would be too great for the trains."

That problem could have been solved by tunneling under Gergetown and carrying the trains over the Potomac on a bridge, as was done with the Blue and Yellow Lines.

The book you mentioned is correct regarding the engineering issue, but that's only part of the story. It is a well-documented fact that many in Georgetown did not want a Metro station -business owners didn't want the construction disruption and residents didn't want "undesirables" coming up out of the escalators.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Metrorail with a connecting link between the Western Montgomery County and Prince George's County would be the least intrusive and a less expensive solution to solving the existing transportation problem"

Since when does building heavy rail at $150 million/mile cost less than building a road?

And why is OK to tear up neighborhoods to build rail but not to build roads?

FYI, building the Purple will be more intrusive; much of the ICC route is vacant land. Indeed, land preservation is the primary purpose of the environmentalist groups' opposition.

And building Metrorail along the proposed route is neither cost-effective nor practical. The density to support it isn't there.

And before you start advocating creating density to "make Metrorail fit" answer this question: why is growth spawned by rail something to be encouraged while growth resulting from a road is derisively called "sprawl"?

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Why is Metrorail less expensive? Because conservatively, the ICC's projected cost are over 3 billion dollars! Its use is less expensive too - it cheaper to pay for Metro than paying for gas and high tolls on the ICC!!

Why is Metrorail less intrusive? Because Metrorail can be built underground and it is not as wide as a 6 lane highway with bridges!!!

Why is Metrorail more practical? See above!

The governor and our county executives are listening . . .

Posted by: Citizen for Smart Transportation | December 20, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

So much of the problem with traffic and congestion in this area stems from this "either or" mentality. Either you build roads, or you invest in rails/public transit. But in order to really attack the problem, you need to attack it from multiple points. The only solution to that is to build 'both' Look at LA, a severe lack of decent public transportation and "rush hour" traffic nearly all day.

I really dislike the argument that the purple line is an alternative to the ICC. It has been shown in multiple studies that it simply is not. It probably won't relieve congestion either. However, it is a necessary step to making the metro system much more useful and connected within the beltway. The "spoke-and-hub" design of the metro is simply not practical anymore, and by connecting these spokes the system could be so much better utilized. I'm not saying it will get people out of their cars, but it may prevent people from getting back in them.

My problem with the ICC is that while yes it will relieve congestion on the beltway by adding an east-west route, it will also bring development along it's route and thus, more traffic. Unfortunately, a vicious cycle in this area. But traffic has gotten to the point that something needs to be done. It is time for the NIMBY's and the environmentalists to lay down their swords and allow for progress to happen with the ICC. Their efforts would be better suited in throwing more support behind building the purple line and other transit projects.

And CEEAF, I think I'm going to take to calling you a propoNUT of the ICC and building roads. You certainly fit your description of people who "can't be reasoned with. Facts mean nothing to them. They MUST get their way EVERY time.

Posted by: Laura | December 20, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"As for the rail 'alternative,' I think it stands to reason that they serve different purposes. Metro does not help me drive from Frederick to Baltimore, and it never will. Metro does not help me drive from Frederick to Fairfax, and it never will. Metro doesn't get people from Gaithersburg to Columbia..."

I don't see how any intelligent person can say with a straight face that the Purple Line is a viable alternative to the ICC.

The Purple Line won't even significantly reduce traffic on the nearby Beltway, much less substitute for an expressway as much as 12 miles away. Studies of every one of the 30+ light rail systems in the US have proven that light rail attracts mainly people who already rode the bus lines replaced by light rail. Light rail doesn't take a substantial number of people out of their cars. The Purple Line, therefor, is not an intelligent or viable ICC alternative; it's a motivation for killing the ICC.

"I just don't see how people who know anything about traffic in this area can say that a highway to avoid the beltway wouldn't relieve traffic on the beltway."

You have to understand what motivates the ICC opponents, particularly the environmentalists and the Purple Line advocates.

They couldn't care less about traffic congestion. All they care about is killing new highways and spending as much available money as possible on rail.

They want traffic to get worse, hence their opposition to EVERY new road - not just the ICC.

Their goal is to force everyone onto transit by making traffic worse through stopping additional road infrastructure and spending every available dollar on rail.

The end result is intollerable driving conditions and only one alternative being built: rail.

Looks like we're almost there.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Well Lara, In response to your

"My problem with the ICC is that while yes it will relieve congestion on the beltway by adding an east-west route, it will also bring development along it's route and thus, more traffic"

The propspect of overdevelopment can be easily solved with zoning restrictions.

This is a simple concept that has been discussed ad nauseum in the many coomunity hearings where oppoNUTS have tried to raise the stupid red herring of "rads cause sprawl".

Funny, how transit advocates NEVER have a problem with development along a rail line. In fact, they encourage it, despite the effect on infrastrucure and government services.

So I'll call you a non-thinking "narrowmindedNUT" for even bringing it up.

Open-minded, intelligent people know better.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"The propspect of overdevelopment can be easily solved with zoning restrictions."

Because that's sure worked in the past.

Posted by: Baltimore | December 20, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I was defending the ICC and telling the environmentalists to stop and you attack me? You are crazier than I thought, or atleast not nearly as open-minded and intelligent as you think you are. Again, I will take to calling you a propoNUT. Actually, I think I will deem you Mr. PropoNUT, King of the propoNUTs! There, now you must feel super special!

"This is a simple concept that has been discussed ad nauseum in the many coomunity hearings where oppoNUTS have tried to raise the stupid red herring of "rads cause sprawl"."

I'd like to point out I never used the word "sprawl" in my comment. I don't consider the ICC to be sprawl or to contribute to sprawl. I said that it would create development (which is a good thing, but also has it's negatives). To me the definition of "sprawl" is the continued outward development of the urban and suburban area. The ICC is being built in an area that already is relatively densely populated (or atleast connects densely populated areas within the confines of the already urban/suburban area). What I was saying in my comment is that there will be development along it (just like there has been a growth of development along the 270 corridor) and in this cause and effect relationship, will bring traffic. I think most people who are proponents of the ICC think this will be a miracle fix for traffic on the beltway. It will be at first, but eventually with the increased development, the ICC will also begin to have congestion along with all the roads in the area.

This brings me back to my original point. That in order to fight the problem you need to attack it with multiple solutions. I am a propoNUT of smart growth. In order for that to happen, the building of roads and rails goes hand in hand.

Posted by: Laura | December 20, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Laura,

Call me a ICC "propoNUT" if you will.

But the opponents of the ICC simply have no case, not a leg to stand on. EVERY reason for their opposition - environmental, financial, feasability, impact on traffic, and just plain NIMBY have been shot down - proven wrong by the MANY studies THEY demanded. The ONLY reason they have left to justify their opposition is "we just don't want it built". Sorry, but that's not good enough, especially consideriong the benefit aand the faact that most people want it. That's why even liberal Democrats like O'Malley and Leggett got a clue and got on board.

"I think most people who are proponents of the ICC think this will be a miracle fix for traffic on the beltway. It will be at first, but eventually with the increased development, the ICC will also begin to have congestion along with all the roads in the area"

Sorry, but that comes off as a variation on the same old tired "you can't build your way out of congestion" slogan.

The ICC was never intended to be "a miracle fix" for Beltway traffic (that's the puported puprpose of the Puple Line).

The ICC is meant to provide a direct expressway link between Gaitherburg and Laurel and facilitate BWI access from Montgomery and southern Frederick counties. Therefor, the argument that "ICC propoNUTS think it will be a miracle cure for the Beltway...it will be, but for only a little while" is just another oppoNUT straw-grasping red herring.

"I am a propoNUT of smart growth. In order for that to happen, the building of roads and rails goes hand in hand."

Now we're getting somewhere!

Sadly, in this region, especially in Maryland, "smart growth" has been used as a foil for building tax-abated luxury housing near transit, blocking suburban development of affordable housing, and refusing to build new highways, thanks to "Green" Glendening.


Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Laura,

I would love to see smart growth implemented hetre as it should be - revitalization of inner core areas for the benefit of all.

However, thanks to "Green" Glendening, smart growth in Maryland is nothing but a tax-supported plan to increase inner-core property values with tax-abated "transit-oriented" luxury housing, upscale retail, and class A offices in the core.

All while blocking/discouraging suburban development through restrictions and refusing to build the necessary infrastructure and highways.

"Green" Glending implemented it; Erlich stopped it (not one new highway was built during his 8 years in offfice; land was purchased with taxpayers' money to prevent development; now that O'Malley is coming in, the environmentalists and smart growthers c
This is great for developers, land owners, and affluent homebuyers, but lower and middle-income people are left out in the cold. At taxpayers' expense.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 20, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, finally a voice of reason in Laura's comments. I know it's hard for some people to believe, but the solution to DC's traffic problems are nuanced, requiring BOTH roads and Metro. Since interstates will never be built into downtown DC, Metro has provided a valuable pressure release for the overcrowded roads leading into the city. I really can't believe people are still arguing about the merits of Metro. If you hate Metro, then don't take it; it works fine for me and it keeps me out of your way as you drive into work.

As far as the ICC, I could really care less if it is built or not. That said, this new round of lawsuits smacks of sour grapes. 50 years is more than enough time for the public to debate the merits of the project. The people have spoken and voted for politicians who support the ICC. Just build it already!

Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"As far as the ICC, I could really care less if it is built or not."

If you "could care less," why don't you?

:-)

Sorry. Pet peeve of mine.

As I've said in other threads on this blog, I think it's unrealistic for anyone to argue that Metrorail is not a vital piece of the area's transportation puzzle, but I also think it's unrealistic for anyone to think it's a panacea. I remember some years back when someone told me that I was a fool for owning a car because Metro would take me anywhere I want to go. Um, even to Charlottesville for football games? (The guy's answer, believe it or not, was "yes"--ride to Union Station and take Amtrak. But that's totally unrealistic in the real world for someone who goes down and back in the same day.) Even to Quebec to go skiing in the winter? (Got no response to that one.)

Perhaps those are extreme examples, but what really bugs me when I see people opposing a road and saying "We need rail" is that they seldom say where the rail would GO. I've heard people suggest a line around the Beltway. Doesn't work. How many people actually live or work right near the Beltway? The only things right on the Beltway that might be well-served by such an idea are Tysons, Springfield, and FedEx Field, and even with those the line would need to be some distance away from the Beltway.

The ICC is not likely ever to affect me personally since I live just south of the Beltway in Virginia and I work downtown. But I support the road on principle because Maryland's road network in that area reminds me a lot of the Metrorail system--great for going IN or OUT, but not so good for getting ACROSS. What I'd REALLY like to see is the ICC extended west and south, across a new bridge, to link to VA-28 near Dulles Town Center. The bypass this would provide would surely help relieve the Beltway to some degree, at least for traffic going to I-66.

As far as the zoning goes, my impression is that Maryland gives the local counties a lot more authority than Virginia does and that Montgomery and PG might stand a better chance of sticking to their guns on such issues than Fairfax would. Could someone who lives in Maryland, or who is familiar with Maryland law, confirm whether that is correct?

Posted by: Rich | December 21, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"...canceling highways in favor of Metro have given us the nation's third-worst congestion"

CEEAF: actually we have now surpassed Los Angeles and are now second to Seattle in traffic congestion and time spent in delays during rush hours.

If the ICC that was on the maps in the 70's had been build it would not have been so environmentally unfriendly nor so costly in real dollars, nor so obtrusive or land grabbing.

I wish that the ICC does not have tolls and elaborate interchanges but that ICC is gone forever. The interchange on Conn Ave south of Aspen Hill will never be utilized.

I support both the ICC and the Purple line because they serve different parties and both are needed.

Posted by: Historian | December 21, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"CEEAF: actually we have now surpassed Los Angeles and are now second to Seattle in traffic congestion and time spent in delays during rush hours."

Thanks for the update.

Studies by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) have shown that among the ten worst congested metro areas, 8 - DC, NY, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, Atlanta, Boston, Philly - have built extensive rail systems. Only Houston and Seattle have invested soley/mainly in roads.

I don't know what that tells rail transit advocates, but it tells me three things:

1. Rail is not a substitute for highways, as DC region transit advocates suggest.

2. Rail does not sufficiently impact congestion to warrant a continuied investment soley in rail, as DC region transit advocates suggest.

3. The fact that only two highway-centric cities made the top ten list implies that a comprehensive highway network is more effective at moving people and goods than is rail.

I'm not anti-Metro; I use it myself when it makes sense. But I'm unconvinced of the Metro-is-a-silver-bullet approach to solving traffic problems that is so prevalent in this region.

"If the ICC that was on the maps in the 70's had been build it would not have been so environmentally unfriendly nor so costly in real dollars, nor so obtrusive or land grabbing."

Exactly.

But the anti-highway movement in this region took off during the '70's. Anti-highway activists in metro DC were successful in convincing the politicians of the day as well as the public that highways were bad and building Metro would make the region's planned highways unnecessary. Besides, during the early '70's, many believed we would run out of oil in a short while and cars and highways would be therefor obselete. By the time reality set in, the damage had already been done.

"I wish that the ICC does not have tolls and elaborate interchanges but that ICC is gone forever."

I'm personally glad to see the tolls. They give lie to the fact that the ICC is too expensive and will keep other projects from being built. Also, since the tolls will keep many people away, the "induced travel" argument road opponents like to throw up is shot down.

" The interchange on Conn Ave south of Aspen Hill will never be utilized."

Not sure what you mean here.

"I support both the ICC and the Purple line because they serve different parties and both are needed."

Same here. My problem is with the mindset that the Purple Line is an alternative to the ICC. It's not. For that reason, I don't want to see it built until they start work on the ICC.

I also have a problem with the proposed light rail configuration because light rail's track record (no pun intended) in the US simply isn't good.

Light rail has become popular in the US in the last 15 years, for many reasons, the main one being the perception that building light rail makes a city appear to world class with "enlightened" leadship.

Since 1990, some 30 systems have been built, started, or planned in the US. None of the completed systems have so far met ridership projections.

Personally, I think a better solution would be cross-county road improvements (widen roads and replace key intersections with interchanges) supplemented with bus rapid transit (BRT). Less costly than light rail and more bang for the buck.

Posted by: CEEAF | December 21, 2006 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Give it up folks. The ICC is going to be built. Other new roads will be built as well. The area must adapt as it continues to grow, both with new roads and with new public transportation efforts.

Posted by: Dan | December 22, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The ICC sounds great as long as it doesn't expand to another bridge over the potomac. I'd fear that our crime may spill over into Northern Virginia.

Posted by: No Bridge | December 26, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"The ICC sounds great as long as it doesn't expand to another bridge over the potomac. I'd fear that our crime may spill over into Northern Virginia."

That's a pretty stupid statement, considering NOVA has enough home-grown as well as imported crime. Ever hear of MS 13?

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