In the fast lane on the ICC
What timing! I just happened to be back in Montgomery County from my retirement paradise at the beach on the opening day for Route 200, the fabled intercounty connector.
It was in the last century, almost half my lifetime ago, that I first heard of the planned ICC and started working to prevent it from being built.
From 1981 to 1999, as communications director for a large planned community, I spent 17 years, among other duties, lobbying, arguing, writing and testifying against the building of the controversial east-west span.
One proposed trajectory would “cut our community in half!” Another would “dump traffic onto our main road!” And there was the eternal cry: “It will destroy the wetlands!”
The irony was that during those 17 years I lived in Laurel, the ICC would practically have connected the dots from my front door to my Gaithersburg office, eliminating more than half of my twice-daily, hour-plus, life-sucking commute.
I yearned for the ICC shortcut even as a part of me enjoyed the ride past horse farms, silos, scenic, winding roads, wildlife-populated streams and roads charmingly named Muncaster and Mink Hollow.
A dozen years ago, I moved to the beach to work in tourism. Now retired, I’m a Social-Security drawing, commute-free senior, driving an SUV.
Imagine my surprise to find myself in Gaithersburg on Wednesday, the very morning the first cars would burn rubber on a completed portion of the ICC.
So at 9 a.m., I turned left off Shady Grove Road onto the newly opened Route 200 ramp and accelerated onto the wide, sparsely trafficked intercounty connector. I sped from Derwood to Redland to Olney and Route 97 in a flash. I pictured those old, weathered “Right-of-way-for-future ICC” signs having finally come down, replaced by heavy equipment and road construction. I marveled at the high noise barriers trying to shield neighborhoods whose residents had demonized the project for years.
Frankly, I’m still conflicted about the ICC, but my morning ride certainly brought me full circle with my former ICC-bashing career and ICC-needing commute.
The new road came too late to convenience me. But I hope the displaced squirrels and frogs, as well as the noise-inundated neighbors, are okay. I think the final route spared my former workplace most of its worries, and I imagine the road will achieve the goals envisioned for it by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
For me, all of it was a great ride. Zero to 60 in 30 years.
Fay Jacobs, Rehoboth Beach
| February 25, 2011; 7:50 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Maryland, traffic, transportation
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