Glendening's roads to nowhere

ICC: Governor's half-a-loaf proposal fails to link high-tech corridor with rest of metro region.

September 24, 1999

GOV. PARRIS N. Glendening may believe that he has driven a stake into the heart of the Intercounty Connector, but the real victim may be Maryland's economic future. Without this long-proposed highway, there's no easy way between Montgomery County's job-rich, high-tech corridor and the Baltimore region.

The ICC would link Interstate 270 with Interstate 95, providing Montgomery County businesses better access to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Port of Baltimore. Workers in the major population center -- including Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore city and county and Prince George's -- would be nearer to thousands of well-paying, skilled positions. Considering their exponential growth, these high-tech businesses cannot hope to staff themselves solely with residents of Montgomery County.

The governor is correct in saying that mass transportation needs to be improved, but more light rail or subways won't be enough to handle the daily movement of people into, out of and around Montgomery County.

His proposals to extend other roads between Interstate 370 and Route 97 in Western Montgomery and between 29 and U.S. 1 in eastern Montgomery will do little to improve the traffic link between that county and greater Baltimore. Some future governor is more than likely to complete the Intercounty Connector eventually.

The governor's alternative, which resembles two roads to nowhere, suggests he hasn't been listening to business leaders in the state. The ICC project isn't merely about alleviating suburban, rush-hour bottlenecks. It's about tying the most powerful job engines in the state and having two parts of the nation's fourth largest urban market act more as one.

Without an east-west connecting highway, Montgomery's isolation from Central Maryland will continue, exacerbating tensions and misunderstandings in the General Assembly. Mr. Glendening need only look to the south where legislators in Richmond have ignored the transportation bottlenecks in Northern Virginia.

Linking jobs and infrastructure in the Washington-Baltimore market must be a priority. County executives C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger in Baltimore County, Douglas M. Duncan in Montgomery and Wayne K. Curry in Prince George's recognize that the 18-mile Intercounty Connector is vital to the region's -- and state's -- future. Why doesn't Mr. Glendening?

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