New road must be built

Intercounty Connector: Link between airport, Montgomery Country should be a state priority

June 23, 1999

IT WILL take political courage to press ahead with building an east-west road tying Montgomery County with Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Yet that's what Gov. Parris N. Glendening must do.

The Intercounty Connector, which has been discussed for 40 years, is badly needed because of traffic congestion in the Washington suburbs. It also would give travelers better access from Montgomery County to Baltimore, Annapolis, Laurel and BWI. Without that link to the airport, Montgomery County could lose companies leaving for less congested sites with quick access to airports.

Up until last year's gubernatorial election, the ICC was a top priority for Mr. Glendening. But he pulled the plug during his campaign, winning cheers from one of his core constituencies -- environmentalists. To assuage furious businesses and politicians, the governor formed a study group.

Guess what? That panel now supports a modified ICC, along with greatly enhanced mass transit and special toll lanes on area freeways during rush hours.

Adding considerable weight to the group's suggestions is the statement by John D. Porcari, state transportation secretary, that an east-west connecting road should be part of the solution to the Washington region's extreme congestion -- the nation's second-worst after Los Angeles. His remarks could signal a renewed Glendening stance favoring the ICC, which Maryland needs.

Legitimate environmental concerns can be addressed. But the ICC must be resurrected as part of a broader plan to make travel for commuters and businesses in the Washington suburbs easier.

Pub Date: 6/23/99

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