Council tries to block intercounty highway

Montgomery panel passes resolution against road

April 07, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

ROCKVILLE -- They've said it once and they'll say it again: the $1.1 billion Intercounty Connector from I-95 to I-270 is a dead end.

In its strongest action, the Montgomery County Council passed a resolution yesterday opposing the Intercounty Connector (ICC) and calling on Gov. Parris N. Glendening to stop buying land for it. The vote was 5-2, with one abstention. The council president recused himself, as he always does on ICC matters, because he owns land in the corridor.

"This is the ultimate example of wishful thinking in transportation planning. It's not going to be built and it's time to move on," said council member Derick Berlage. "We have determined that this is not a road we want to go down."

The resolution, with a similar anti-ICC vote by the Prince George's County Council, sets up a confrontation next week with Glendening's transportation task force, which has tentatively endorsed a four-lane toll road.

It also puts the two councils at odds with their county executives. Montgomery Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Prince George's Executive Wayne K. Curry support an ICC, but differ on its size.

Duncan called the council vote "disconcerting," and said he remains committed to building a "parkway-like road."

The state has earmarked almost $50 million over the past five years to purchase land or rights-of-way along several potential routes, according to Montgomery County estimates.

"The state of Maryland is on a land-buying spree along the proposed ICC northern alignment," said council member Marilyn Praisner. "That alignment hangs like a dark cloud over Spencerville and Burtonsville, leaving long-standing communities and homebuyers in limbo."

The governor's 15-member Transportation Solutions Group has been meeting for a year to develop a plan to alleviate traffic in the Washington suburbs, second only to Los Angeles in congestion. It is meeting April 15 at the University of Maryland, College Park to review its preliminary recommendations before issuing its report in July.

Many ICC opponents believe that the group was formed by Glendening -- who backed away from 15 years of support for the highway -- to give legitimacy to a project that has been studied for more than two decades.

"I'm sure these are very well-meaning people, but they are under a lot of pressure," said Montgomery council member Nancy Dacek. "The answers they are going to come up with are -- surprise -- the ICC."

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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