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Slots vs. Gas Tax; ICC vs. Purple Line

Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to fix Maryland's budget woes includes a higher sales tax, higher income taxes for rich folks, and thousands of slot machines to soak the poor.

But despite the governor's acknowledgment that Maryland needs billions of dollars of new transportation infrastructure to deal with the ever-more clogged roads, O'Malley couldn't quite bring himself to jack up the gas tax--the single tax increase that business and environmental groups agree would make a difference in attacking the state's transportation problem.

O'Malley came into office with lots of talk about pushing forward on both roads and transit--his would be a more balanced approach than his predecessor, Bob Ehrlich, used, the new governor said. But O'Malley's proposed budget creates no new movement on the Purple Line, the proposed east-west Metro connection between Bethesda and New Carrollton. And yet O'Malley shows no sign of retreating from the Inter-County Connector, the multi-billion dollar extravagance that will pave a new path from I-270 in Montgomery County to I-95 in Prince George's County.

Support for the ICC, never exactly overwhelming, seems to be waning as commuters realize that even the state's own studies show the highway would do little if anything to relieve congestion on the Beltway. The Prince George's County Council voted unanimously last week to protest the state's continued push for the highway, which county officials believe will act as a vacuum tube sucking jobs out of Prince George's and funneling residents of the county over to Montgomery.

A federal court in Greenbelt today hears opening arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop the ICC construction before the road becomes a fait accompli. The suit, filed by residents and environmental groups, argues that the state "failed to consider the reasonable alternatives that would better address traffic problems and cost less, while protecting public health and the region's parks and natural resources. Plaintiffs also will argue that the proposed ICC would dramatically increase traffic and air pollution in the region," according to a release from Environmental Defense, the Sierra Club, and the Audubon Society.

Prince George's officials are fighting hard against the road in large part because they would far prefer to see limited transportation dollars used to create the infrastructure needed to lure jobs and shopping opportunities to the county's existing Metro stations and other hubs.

The Purple Line, they say, would do far more to boost the county's economy than a road that would primarily move Prince George's residents to far-away jobs. And the way to jump-start the Purple Line project, according to both green and business groups, is to raise the gas tax.

"If not now, when?" asks a Baltimore Sun editorial endorsing the positions of business groups in both Washington and Baltimore supporting a 10-cent increase in the gas tax.

Is the O'Malley administration really that different on transportation from its predecessor? According to the governor, the big, important difference is that he is upfront with the people about the need to raise taxes rather than hide behind the illusion that slot machines alone can pay for what Maryland must do. What was wrong with Ehrlich's approach "was the holding up of slots as a replacement for the responsibility we have to keep our state strong," O'Malley says. "That's not good for our state or the future of the republic."

"Our plan is not cotton candy that tells you there's no pain for any of us," he continues.

Sounds right--and the ultimate way to assure that everyone understands that there are no free solutions to the traffic mess is to let voters see the true costs of congestion. Raising the gas tax would help boost the economy, steer resources toward transit improvements that could stem the rate of growth of road congestion, make necessary road improvements, and create a more honest financial relationship between commuters and the transportation infrastructure.


By Marc Fisher |  October 1, 2007; 7:21 AM ET
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Comments

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Marc - I am for raising the gas tax, but don't understand your contention that it would help boost the economy. How, exactly would it do that? Or are you saying it would boost it in certain regions, or for certain industries, or something else? Because I think the gas tax would only move around existing money, not bring in anything new.

Posted by: jan | October 1, 2007 9:03 AM

My thoughts exactly after reading this article. I'm not sure how raising the gas tax would boost the economy - though I readily admit I was not an economics major so there may be something I'm missing.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 1, 2007 9:32 AM

Enough already. Most of those opposed to ICC, if letters to the editor are any indicator, do NOT live on any of the east-west roads that WILL see relief. IF any Montgomery Council members lived on Bel Pre Road, they would be FOR the ICC.
I don't much care about relieving congestion on the Beltway - I want to see relief on Bel Pre Road, between Georgia Ave and Norbeck Rd so I can get out of my driveway in the morning.. The ICC will help IMO.

Posted by: Marylander FOR ICC | October 1, 2007 9:54 AM

Mark

It seems to me that an increase in the gas tax is a good method to reduce consumption,but can we please stop referring to slot machines as "soaking the poor" ?
I am not a big fan of slots and so I will CHOOSE to avoid them. Just as I CHOOSE to avoid Keno. I occasionally buy lottery tickets , but again it is my choice. No one is dragged into the stores to buy lottery tickets or play Keno or to Bingo parlors or to drive out of state to casinos or go to the horse tracks or OTB parlors. I doubt that the Governor's plan for slots will include rounding up large numbers of "poor" people and dragging them into slots parlors and forcing them to play the machines until they are broke.Why do we think that slots are any more addictive than all the other gambling offerings currently available? Unlike the other elements of the Governor's plan to raise sufficient money which will not be optional for citizens, choosing to play slot machines is optional.The oft-mentioned increase in crime and the advent of "undesirables" near the slots parlors amy or may not occur, but please let's stop suggesting that there is no choice in what gambling activities one does or does not select.It is disrespectful to brand ALL poor people as likely to succumb to the lure of slot machines.

Posted by: jmsbh | October 1, 2007 10:09 AM

Make sure somebody reminds the good Governor that the US Congress has determined that $83K per year or less is "poor" and thus qualifies those families for SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) assistance.

If he is only increasing taxes for the "rich", the middle class cut off line must be in the $120-$160K range, since $83K is "poor".

Posted by: SoMD | October 1, 2007 10:11 AM

Marylander FOR ICC: I personally do not think a $7 (each way, at today's prices!) toll road will do anything to alleviate the traffic on Bel Pre, Layhill or Bonifant Streets. In fact, the proposed amount for the toll, will force commuters to continue to use the regional roads. Only the rich and businesses will be able to afford to use the ICC on a daily basis. I agree that these streets are terribly congested for residential streets. I wish that I could agree with your optimism. But, unfortunately, I do not believe that this congestion will go away with the ICC.

Posted by: Bonifant St, 20906 | October 1, 2007 10:15 AM

jmsbh: A sales tax, of course, is a tax on the poor, who live hand-to-mouth, spending most of what they earn. Slots and lotteries are taxes on the dreams of the poor.

Posted by: Mike Licht | October 1, 2007 10:19 AM

Marc, you should call me before you write columns like this so you make sense. It is not necessary to raise the gas tax to build neded transportation projects. Just dedicate a penny or two of the existing sales tax. Why do you want to raise taxes every time you think of something else to do?
We need to move the ICC from where it presently exists(Randolph Road) to the place where it has been planned for almost fifty years.
We need to extend Metro to Germantown before we build the Purple Line.
O'Malley's budget with a "deficit" increases 8.5% over last year and throws $580 million in new money at the school system that needs new Michelle Rhee-type leadership before it should get that much more money. Use some of that money for transportation instead.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | October 1, 2007 10:37 AM

I am not sure what the Governor meant we he said an increase in the gas tax would help the economy but I can give some examples. Improving the transportation infrastructure via new, wider roads and more transit means not having goods and services stuck in traffic.

For example: if a service techinician can get to a house in 20 minutes instead of 40 minutes, then the homeowner pays much less, thereby having more money for "actual" goods and services instead of just paying a "traffic congestion" surcharge. The business also benefits becauyse he can seve more clients. Another example is office workers who can be more productive working instead of sitting stuck in traffic.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 10:37 AM

Marc, before you assert that the ICC will do little to relieve congestion, may I suggest that you try driving MD Rt 28, Norbeck Road between New Hampshire Avenue and I 270 at 7:30 in the morning on a school day. The ICC will at minimum alleviate all those trucks from that route, which goes through many residential neighborhoods.

Posted by: Brad | October 1, 2007 10:44 AM

Finally, some discussion of ICC facts from the Washington Post! Thanks Marc, for encouraging rational, factual discussion of this multi-billion-dollar behemoth toll road. For all those ICC-lovers who smaller east-west roads will benefit from lighter traffic if the ICC is built - think again. If MD jumps into this "big dig", those smaller roads will receive less maintenance, fall into disrepair faster, and much needed improvements will be further delayed because the ICC will suck up all the state road funds. No one I've discussed this with plans to use a $7 per use east-west road and I never plan to. Besides, no one can predict what the actual toll will be in 2012. Hint: Its not going to be less! Does anyone think the state is in a good fiscal condition to embark on this juggernaut? Even if you have no problem with the massive environmental damage the ICC will cause (not my specialty), this toll road is a bad deal for MD tax payers. Raise the gas tax 5 cents and shuffle the cards again in FY2009.

Posted by: Donny | October 1, 2007 10:59 AM

The gas tax is also an imperfect way to assess fees for road use. If, for example, all cars were to magically becoem solar powered, you suddenly have just as much congestion, if not more, and no tax revenue at all. The appropriate activity to tax is DRIVING, not fuel consumption. I believe mileage is collected, or can be collected, at every state vehicle emissions inspection (and at the initial safety inspection). It would not be that hard to subtract two numbers and hit people up for how much they actually use the roads. TO ecnourage a sane amount of driving, you might exempt the first 800 to 10000 miles, and then have the fee get progressively steeper after that. Not only do you collect money for roads from the heaviest users, but you also cap excessive use by making it prohibitively expensive to be constantly driving.

Posted by: bkp | October 1, 2007 11:02 AM

to bkp - that is an interesting proposal. just curious, would I have to pay for miles driven out of state? If I live in MD, drive to VA every day for work, would I get a discount?

Posted by: bkp | October 1, 2007 11:21 AM

To Mike Licht
Yes, a sales tax is one of the most regressive taxes. The gas tax isn't much better. My point which seems to be consistent with yours, is that slots should not be considered a "tax" on the poor. It is an optional expediture, unlike the others.

Posted by: jmsbh | October 1, 2007 11:23 AM

Yes, the ICC has nothing to do with the beltway and never was meant to. But if it gets some of the traffic off of Georgia Ave. then it should have been built yesterday.

Yes, the purple line needs built already. THAT would probably take some traffic off the beltway. Not all Metro lines need to be into and out of the city anymore. Hell, build the Purple Line all the way around parallel with the beltway.

As for slots, the state shouldn't just stop there, but go all the way with table games like blackjack and poker. Why not? I'm sick of the argument that slots suck up all the money from the poor. No one compells them to play the slots, or the lottery for that matter. I'm making well less than 50k and with where I live, it means I don't exactly have a lot of money to spend on gambling. But if people want to do it, that's fine. If they think they'll get rich, more power to them. But don't cry for them because of the choices they made. I've decided I'm not dropping 5 or 10 bucks a week on the lotto, and I won't be dropping 20 bucks a week in slot machines hoping to strike it rich. Slots and gambling only take money from those willing to spend it. It's a hell of a lot better than raising the gas tax, when gas is already high enough.

Posted by: Aspen Hiller | October 1, 2007 11:47 AM

I am a pessimist, or, if you prefer, a realist. Here's what I think:

1) The ICC will not make traffic better. It will keep it from getting much worse. Like it or not, the region is growing, and it needs more roads.

2) In the lawsuit against the ICC, the court hasn't been asked to rule on whether or not it's a good idea, but whether the project's environmental impact has been adequately studied. The plaintiffs may claim it has not, but 50 years and 300,000 pages of documentation say otherwise. Those are tough hurdles.

3) If the ICC is not built, and PG county thinks it's going to get a couple of billion dollars to spend on their own transportation needs instead, I have a bridge over the Potomac at Great Falls I'd like to sell them.

4) If the ICC is scrapped and the Purple Line is built instead, I'll wager a year's salary that it will cost more than the ICC, move fewer people, and not be economically self-sufficient. Others will come to those conclusions as well, and the Purple Line will be scrapped, too.

5) A hefty gas tax increase would be the most beneficial solution for all concerned except the politicians who would be voted out of office for enacting it. I trust you see the catch there.

My prediction: The state wins the lawsuit. The opponents appeal, tying up the project 3 more years. Slots do not pass. No one has any money on any governmental level. Nothing gets built at all.

Posted by: Chris | October 1, 2007 11:49 AM

Seriously--you want the geniuses at Metro to build and run a Purple Line? They have enough problems keeping the current system trouble (and fire) free without raising fares $5 every 2 years. $7 each way on the ICC will still be less than what Metro will be charging (including parking) to take the Purple line.

I'll take my chances on the ICC, thank you. Anything to avoid the Beltway--and Metro--during rush hour.

Posted by: Right Winger | October 1, 2007 12:06 PM

SoMD, that's bull. The $83K figure has already been discredited, though it does make a nifty talking point. (There had been some speculation that, in New York specifically, the threshold for coverage might go that high, but even that has been debunked. No one with any credibility is still clinging to it. But nice try.)

Posted by: jane | October 1, 2007 12:10 PM

Chris, you make too much sense. Please do not post here again.

The anti-ICC folks' arguments make my head hurt. The ICC won't reduce congestion on 495 or on the residential roads in Montgomery County? Will the ICC be vacant, filled with nothing but squirrels and rollerbladers?

Posted by: Sean | October 1, 2007 12:14 PM

Raising the gas tax would be fine by me IF AND ONLY IF the money (or majority) was earmarked for transit-related projects.

Maryland has a very odd transportation funding scheme. Leaving out WMATA, everything else is in the state is 100% state financed (no local dollars). Besides that, all transportation projects, from the Port Authority to the State Highway Administration to the MTA, come out of one fund: the transportation trust fund.

Whereas other states have dedicated funding for transit (e.g., Massachusetts dedicates a portion of the sales tax to public transit), MD's DoT agencies are pitted against one another in an annual budget battle. The result is that no one ends up happy and no one knows what minimum amount of money will be available from year-to-year.

Not knowing contributes to poor or delayed capital investment for both highway and rail since neither the MTA nor the SHA can be sure of their financial future. And with declining federal assistance for projects...

O'Malley needs to raise the gas tax. And he needs to dedicate at least half of any increase to public transit.

Posted by: Melissa | October 1, 2007 12:37 PM

Great comments, and thus far - still no reasonable argument nor logic justifying the hugely expensive ICC. We, the MD tax payers are waiting...we'll listen...just promise to make sense...and avoid the Erlich-era pro-ICC cheerleading. Nothing ever built by man was without cost, but in the name of fiscal responsibility, we would like all publically funded items over $2,400,000,000 to be cost justified. Thanks.

Posted by: Donny | October 1, 2007 1:00 PM

The ICC is a bad idea

Will the same people say that the Silver Line is also a bad idea

This isn't an anti/pro roads transit issue

Can the government build any transportation project responsibily anymore

I want HOT Lanes everywhere because they will actually be built and traffic will actually be improved. For the transit kids buses can use them.

Posted by: Government is a joke | October 1, 2007 1:17 PM

Chris: one point. since when do we expect transit, or any transportation improvement, to be revenue neutral or self sufficient?
as for the ICC, it is required, under Maryland law, to collect 120% of the annual cost of the road. That includes the 2.4 billion dollars in construction (amortized, I assume over 20 year bonds)Maryland carries a AA rating for transportation bonds from Fitch's. So what are the actual debt service costs, maintenance costs and collection costs going to be? figure that out, add 20%, divide by the number of cars a year and you have your toll. in 2005, Maryland collected $287m in tolls for the entire state, looks like the ICC is going to have to collect at least $70million alone, annually, to finance itself.

Posted by: northzax | October 1, 2007 1:18 PM

Those that claim the ICC will decrease the amount of traffic almost always think statically... they say "Look at TODAY's traffic volume and think how many of those cars will take the ICC if it's built".

They never account for the excess growth in population that WILL result (Konterra and who knows what other developments will eventually come) or the fact that current traffic levels discourage alot of potential traffic, even now (I'll call them ELECTIVE traffic as opposed to required traffic because they have a choice of routes and times to complete their trip).

Lets say one particular stretch of 495 can take 1000 cars an hour TODAY. Building the ICC might siphon off 400 of those cars and initially have only 600 cars on 495, but once people become aware of the decreased traffic, more will ELECT to take the route that was once over congested.

The reduced traffic will spur others to live in places that were once prohibitive due to traffic, and new development spurred by the excess capacity will add further to traffic.

At the end of the process (let's say 5-10 years), you've got 1000 cars per hour on that stretch of 495 again and who knows how much on the ICC... and the cycle starts again.

Their isn't much of an alternative since added rails just spurs more traffic too... but at least capacity can be added more economically (once the rails are laid and the tunnels completed).

Posted by: A. John | October 1, 2007 1:26 PM

For those who think transit is the cure-all for our area's road problems, lets just take look at roads in our area with a parallel transit line. In Virginia, the VRE runs generally parallel to I-95 and I-95 is still JAMMED!!! The Orange Line runs in the median of I-66 and I-66 is still JAMMED!!! In Maryland, the southern leg of the Green Line runs parallel to the Suitland Parkway and all major routes in SE Washington are JAMMED!!! I-270 has the Red Line and I-270 is still JAMMED!!! And the Penn and Camden MARC lines both parallel roads coming from Baltimore and Route 29, I-95, the Balt/Wash Parkway are all JAMMED!!! Transit may have taken a few cars off of the roads, but these examples show that more transit and less roads are not a cure-all to the traffic problems.

Posted by: eyendis | October 1, 2007 2:07 PM

The assertion that the ICC would "dramatically increase traffic and air pollution in the region" is nonsense. Over 99% of the estimated increases in traffic around the beltway and on I-270 will occur even if the ICC is not built. And in some places the ICC will improve congestion somewhat(See State and Federal Highway Administrations' Environment Impact Statement).
Roads are not built Just to relieve congestion on other roads. There is not one direct east-west route across the county to facilitate traffic to and from I-95, the BWI airport, the Baltimore area, or points north for businesses or travelers who would be more than compensated in time and fuel saved for the cost of the toll.
The assertion that reasonable
alternatives were not considered is so vapid, in the face of the plethora of information to the contrary, as to be hardly worthy of the court's time and consideration.

Posted by: Jerry | October 1, 2007 2:46 PM

ICC - For 8 years I lived in the southern Baltimore suburbs and worked in Rockville, Montgomery County. An ICC would do WONDERS for residents of other counties, Anne Arundel, Howard, and Baltimore, to provide access to higher paying jobs in Montgomery County without an 1.5 hour or more commute. At this time, one must go west or south and then south or west to get to the heart of the jobs in Rockville and Bethesda. The ICC would definitely open that up and I would not mind paying additional gasoline tax for that!

Posted by: Richard | October 1, 2007 3:31 PM

The basic truths are these:
"Public Transportation" is something that we want the other guy to take, and we don't want to pay for it. We want our cars because, unfortunately, not all houses are near Metro stations, nor are all jobs. Build the ICC already! It was needed in the 60's, it's still a need now. Ask anybody that drives on Muncaster Mill Rd., or Rt. 28 in the morning/afternoon rush hour.

Posted by: marc | October 1, 2007 3:46 PM

To all of those anti-ICC people: What generates more pollution and causes more damage to the environment, cars and trucks on narrow local roads in stop-and-go traffic or cars and trucks on a congestion-free highway? The purpose of the ICC is NOT to take cars off of the Beltway, that is suppose to be the job of the Purple Line. The purpose of the ICC is to make east-west travel easier in Montgomery County by taking cars off of local roads and to connect the I-270 Corridor with the I-95 Corridor. The last "new" road in our area, MD Route 100, nicely connects I-97, I-95 and US 29 in Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, made east-west travel easier in those counties and took cars off of smaller east-west routes such as Dorsey and Montgomery Roads.

Posted by: Angry Commuter | October 1, 2007 4:01 PM

to Angry Commuter - I don't disagree with what you said, but to add a point, I take 100 every day (and love it), but what has happened is that the 100 corridor is quickly filling up with commercial and office space, and the traffic is getting worse and worse. There are already at least two stretches that should be widened to handle the additional traffic. So yes, it has been beneficial, but not without cost.

Posted by: jen | October 1, 2007 4:19 PM

100 is a nice road but it should have been built with 3 lanes each way in Anne Arundel instead of 2. Maryland underestimated its usefulness and potential popularity and learned its lesson by making the ICC 3 lanes each way between 270 and 95. The land along the ICC Route in Montgomery is already mostly developed.

Posted by: S | October 1, 2007 4:36 PM

The Bonifant "Street" post (and poster) near the top is a classic example of poseurs knocking the ICC. Any real local knows it's Bonifant *Road*. Most of the anti-ICC foment comes from people who have never experienced the nightmare of east-west travel in MoCo during rush hour. The ICC will definitely help that problem.

The "it won't help the Beltway" argument is just a red herring from the anti-ICC mob. The Beltway is beyond hope. There is hope for east-west travel in the middle of the county and it's the ICC. Build it!! Now!!

Finally, I hear a lot of nonsense coming from Leisure World that the ICC will choke its residents with pollution. Hello? Venture out to the edge of your property onto Norbeck Road during rush hour and take a deep breath of what's spewing from all those cars sitting idling in the current gridlocked mess.

Posted by: East-West Molasses | October 1, 2007 4:37 PM

Sean,

The reason the anti-ICC folks make your head hurt is because you haven't personally read the state's own report on the ICC. If you read it, you'll see that even its backers recognize that congestion is going to increase. So yes, the ICC will be used but at the same time, it won't relieve congestion.

Try imposing tolls on our local roads to see what ICC will do. Imagine, for example, a toll on 270 at the MC-Frederick line. What do you think will happen then?

What are the alternatives? Discourage new businesses (stop offering tax breaks), rein in development, increase public transportation, raise car-related taxes, etc.

Posted by: Don | October 1, 2007 6:25 PM

To eyendis...

Yes, but the Orange line running down I-66, the Red line out I-270, and so on are also standing room only and packed heavily. The simple deal is that we've overgrown our existing network no matter the mode. Expanding all modes of travel isn't a bad idea, but pitting one angainst the other is in general a bad idea because somethign looses out and then everyone suffers even more.

As for me, raise the gas tax and build both the ICC and the Purple Line. And build the Purple line as heavy rail interoperable with the existing network instead of light rail on surface streets. Trains sitting in traffic do little to solve congestion and moving people at rush hour, but it's a great way to get people nowhere very fast...

Posted by: JT | October 1, 2007 6:42 PM

i feel for those who must drive their cars in this life. it's too bad. traffic will only get worse. drivers will only get more angry during driving. the anger i see on the raods as I walk and bike and metro pass them...people are using the f-word at loud volumes like its everyday, dinner table speech, they are so irate while in their cars.

when i read about commute times..it takes my breath away. what kind of person sits in traffic that long-- repeatedly?...answer: a passive consumer, not a meaningful citizen; uneducated, although well intentioned, who knows little of what it means to live a creative joyful life outside the mainstream on illusory nonchoices. shop in a big box storee? eat the food at those salt-drenched chains (applebees/hooters/outback/etc) with no chefs but minority food "preparers"? be in the black sea of asphalt that is the parking lot?

folks, what have we done to ourselves in this culture? our lives are unsustainable; the quality is LOW; and people are fatter than ever...with 500 channels of lousy, boring, corrupting TV programming...

car driving is not a dignifying or edifying way to travel in 2007. living where you need a car is a pathology, however unintended. good luck folks...

Posted by: mike | October 1, 2007 8:57 PM

Build it. It was planned 50 years ago. Implement the plan.

Posted by: wtf | October 1, 2007 9:10 PM

Marc Fisher, please stay on this case! This ICC hog has been allowed to slop at the MD tax payer trough for long enough. A little relief, here? Thanks much. A rational analysis and discussion on this topic has been refreshing after much media silence preceded by grandstanding and lies from politicians and developers. Journalism has a part to play in how Maryland lives or dies.

Posted by: Donny | October 1, 2007 9:35 PM

Mike: Two questions for you
(1) Where do you live?
(2) Do you have kids?

Posted by: stuckman | October 1, 2007 10:02 PM

The Purple Line is a joke. Anyone who lives nearby knows that the Capital Crescent Trail is already supporting as many commuters--walkers and bikers who aren't dumping any carbon into the atmosphere--as it would if the County built an entirely superfluous light rail that isn't tied into Metro. There is already a simple, quick, cheap way to get between Silver Spring and Bethesda. It's called the bus, and it runs down East-West Highway all the time.

Posted by: 20814 | October 1, 2007 10:30 PM

The ICC isn't strongly supported? Gee, only by two-thirds of voters. It led to an election upheaval in Montgomery in 2002. The main reason the P.G. Council opposes it is because it isn't being built in THEIR county. They still want the ICC section slated for P.G. (from 29 to US1). Their goofy anti-ICC resolution actually says how much I-270 has done for Montgomery, so they must love roads after all. If they really want to cut off road access to neighboring counties, let them. It will hurt them far more than Montgomery.

Posted by: webg | October 2, 2007 12:08 AM

Don wrote: "The reason the anti-ICC folks make your head hurt is because you haven't personally read the state's own report on the ICC. If you read it, you'll see that even its backers recognize that congestion is going to increase. So yes, the ICC will be used but at the same time, it won't relieve congestion."

And what part of the EIS exactly did Don read? Apparently not the part that says intersections will be less congested after the ICC is built. Or the part that says more arterial segments will be less congested. Or the part that says travel times will decrease on many routes. Maryland doesn't just build roads for the fun of it. When you add capacity, you reduce congestion.

Posted by: webg | October 2, 2007 12:16 AM

They should pave the entire Washington Baltimore corridor so we can just roller skate to work.

Posted by: Fred | October 2, 2007 12:46 AM

Despite the shrillness of the opposition, AAA's survey shows support for the ICC at 6 to 1. The opponents are getting desperate even as they soak the state for hundreds of millions in environmental "enhancements". How about a victory for drivers for once! Don't give up, O'Malley!

Posted by: Greg | October 2, 2007 12:11 PM

Greg, I agree, O'Malley has thus far impressed me as a man of integrity that generally sticks to his guns on the issues. However, the proposed $2,400,000,000 ICC is catching hell from several directions. It is generally viewed as a costly luxury item (toll road) during a time of fiscal deficit, the feds are taking it to court for fast-balling and falsifying the environmental study and the envrionmentalists are taking it to court for other reasons. The Governor has a hornets nest on his hands - he may have to punt it or box it up for better fiscal times in the future. We'll see. Thanks.

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