ICC is long overdue

Question of the month

February 22, 2003

Q: Despite the state's budget crunch, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is moving ahead with plans to build the Intercounty Connector in Montgomery County. Would you prefer to see Maryland invest in this and other highway projects, or in public transit initiatives such as the Baltimore regional rail plan and the maglev line?

It is long past time to build the Intercounty Connector. This road has been planned for more than four decades to provide grade-separated, limited access transportation from Interstate 270 to Interstate 95 and beyond.

Anti-auto, anti-highway factions have abused environmental laws and their associated processes to delay and attempt to kill this roadway. Our previous governor even ignored the conclusion of his hand-picked task force that studied the ICC when he tried to take it off the master plans.

But during the 40 years that Maryland has thought about and planned this road, the populations that would benefit most from it have more than doubled. Yet the region's road capacity has barely expanded.

This has resulted in excessive utilization of existing roads. And many of the roads in Montgomery County that must be used are in the same condition as 50 years ago, with 10 times more traffic.

Moving the traffic onto the ICC would mean that local roads would bear less traffic in most cases, which would improve pedestrian and motorist safety. And those who use the ICC to travel from the Rockville-Gaithersburg area to I-95 would do so in less than half the time it takes now, on a much safer alternative to over-crowded, paved cowpaths.

And when combined with additional Potomac River crossings, the ICC would provide significant relief to the Washington Beltway and the lower end of I-270.

Tom Reinheimer

Germantown

The writer is vice chairman of Marylanders for a Second Crossing.

We need the Intercounty Connector to relieve congestion on the Washington Beltway and shorten trips from the Rockville area to Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

And we should put nothing into the sinkhole of money-losing mass transportation, which does not even return half of its operating costs, not to mention the huge capital costs borne by taxpayers.

Douglas E. McNeil

Baltimore

It's crucial that we build highways such as the Intercounty Connector, for the sake of the federal government as well as commuters. We must improve mobility in the Washington region to ensure that federal agencies can exchange skills and information and attract skilled employees from across the region.

Contracting firms such as mine are asked to staff projects all around the Washington Beltway, but their employees often must turn down jobs because of traffic. As a result, workers don't rotate to challenging assignments where they could learn new skills. And projects also have trouble attracting talented staff who may live more than a few miles away.

These problems reduce the expertise available for government contracts. And poor mobility discourages timely cooperation and communication between project stakeholders.

We don't just need more roads; we need more direct routes between Montgomery County and neighboring jurisdictions, particularly Prince George's County and Northern Virginia.

Jack S. Cochrane

Bethesda

The Intercounty Connector is a very important and needed addition to Maryland's superior roads program.

Public transit initiatives such as the Baltimore regional rail plan and maglev are needed additions for public transportation, but they are a "pie in the sky" dream at this time because of their costs.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

The Calverton Citizens Association is and strongly has been for building the Intercounty Connector for years.

Why? Because we want traffic diverted from our neighborhood streets onto the ICC.

G. Stanley Doore

Silver Spring

The writer is chairman of the Transportation Committee of the Calverton Citizens Association.

I consider updated road systems in Maryland to be of the utmost importance.

My job requires driving throughout Maryland and Washington, and I've seen several busy road systems improved recently, which has helped relieve traffic jams.

However, the road systems around the Washington area seem to be the most congested. Traveling on Interstate 495 and connecting roads can be very frustrating.

Unfortunately, at this time, we need to hold the line on spending in the Maryland budget. But I would like to see already budgeted road projects to continue.

And as our economy improves, I would welcome new highway projects, especially the Intercounty Connector.

Larry Cooper

Reisterstown

I work in Gaithersburg and I prefer to live in Anne Arundel County, so I drive from Severna Park to Gaithersburg frequently. Since there is now no direct way to get there, I would be happy to see the Intercounty Connector built, if the cost is reasonable.

Public transportation will never replace automobiles or even reduce the number of them - it is just too limited to be effective.

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