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Builder Picked for Intercounty Connector

Maryland has picked a contractor to build the western part of the intercounty connector, even though an environmenal lawsuit seeking to block the project is unresolved.

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Tuesday that the state has chosen a joint venture called Intercounty Constructors of Annapolis Junction to design and build the first phase of the much-debated highway under a $478.7 million contract. That will cover seven miles of the connector, between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue.

That portion is scheduled to be complete in late 2010, according to the State Highway Administration. The segments east of Georgia Avenue would open in late 2011 or 2012. The state has broken up the highway job into five contracts in a project that wil eventually create an 18.8 mile highway connecting the I-270 corridor in the west to the I-95/Route1 corridor in the east.

Intercounty Constructors combines Granite Construction Company, Corman Construction Inc. and G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc.

After O'Malley defeated Robert Ehrlich last November, I wondered if the new governor would back away from his predecessor's commitment to build a roadway that's been a source of controversy for half a century. O'Malley could have said he was shocked to discover that the environmental review of the project was inadequate.

The debate over the highway is as active now as ever. Just yesterday, I moderated a discussion about a new study, done by the Resources for the Future foundation measuring the impact of the intercounty connector on traffic, land use and the region's economy. The results were debated by Michael Replogle, transportation director at Environmental Defense, which opposes the connector, and Bob Grow, director of government relations for the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which supports the project.

But Maryland has now joined the federal government in fighting the lawsuit brought against the project by environmental groups and Maryland residents.

"It is time to get to work," said O'Malley in a statement announcing the selection of the contractor. "With the award of this first major construction contract, we are moving forward with the ICC. The Intercounty Constructors team features an experienced staff of construction and environmental professionals, who come to the ICC with a thorough understanding of all of the agreements and commitments made during the planning study."

Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said recently that the project's cost remains at $2.445 billion.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 28, 2007; 9:27 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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