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Posted at 7:50 PM ET, 02/25/2011

In the fast lane on the ICC

By Fay Jacobs, Rehoboth Beach

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.

By Fay Jacobs, Rehoboth Beach  | February 25, 2011; 7:50 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Maryland, traffic, transportation  
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Next: One last Valentine's Day at Tony's Place


This is why anyone who seeks to delay a government project should have to post a bond for increases in costs. Seventeen years. Just think of all the wasted money, expended exhaust fumes, and millions of hours lost to traffic. And this guy seems very pleased with himself.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 26, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The article's author exposes himself as a parasite who helped suck the lifeblood out of progressive community planning and society in general. A waste of human life.

Posted by: retroag70 | February 26, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The writer lives in Rehoboth Beach and is pro-ICC. "All Opinions are Local." 'Nuff said.

Posted by: juliemartinkorb | February 27, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

To those who have already commented: In the spirit of full disclosure, the writer of the above column is a friend of mine.

First off, it's interesting that the first two commenters assigned a male gender to a writer whose name is "Fay." I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that there's some latent sexism at play, and it's only because the essay is so well-written that you assumed the writer must be a man. But whatever.

The more important point is that Fay worked for an organization that tasked her with lobbying against something that she personally yearned for. In so doing, she knows more, and has a more objective stance on the pros and cons of the ICC than most, and this is reflected in her piece. She concedes that there's a downside to a large highway amid a previously tranquil landscape, and says as much.

In this scenario, she's someone who sees both sides, and therefore has a valuable voice. She also happens to be a pretty amazing person in many regards, the very opposite of "a waste of human life" (as 'retroag70' so beautifully put it).

Finally, I find it amusing that the two most vitriolic comments come from two individuals on polar opposite sides of this issue. Which pretty much proves my point without me having to say much else.

Posted by: RedSeven | February 27, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I took a drive on the ICC Saturday afternoon. It's a nice road and I loved the quick trip. I'll definitely use it.

I congratulate Maryland officials for standing up to the well-organized and determined opponents and going the distance to get the ICC completed.

Had other officials shown that kind of fortitude, the DC metro area might not have the nation's worst traffic congestion.

Posted by: ceefer66 | February 28, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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