The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) today decided to include Maryland’s Intercounty Connector (ICC) this year when it evaluates how the region’s transportation plan will affect the area’s air quality. The proposed highway would link Interstate 270 with Interstate 95 in suburban Maryland.
With today’s vote, officials from jurisdictions around the region took a position on moving Maryland’s ICC forward in the planning process. Most of the TPB members supported the action. The votes in opposition were the three members of the Council of the District of Columbia, the Prince George’s County Council and the cities of College Park, Greenbelt and Takoma Park.
Supporters of the ICC say the road is needed to relieve traffic congestion and ease travel across the northern part of the region. Opponents argue that Maryland’s scarce transportation funds could be better spent on maintaining its existing roads and its share of the region’s mass transit system. The Prince George’s County Council opposed today’s action because of fears the ICC would tend to push economic development and jobs away from that county and toward Montgomery County.
“It is vital from a transportation, environmental and quality of life standpoint to fully understand the ICC,” Marsha Kaiser of the Maryland Department of Transportation, said before the vote. She argued that the ICC project should not be held to more stringent standards than other transportation projects like the Wilson Bridge
Maryland Sen. John Giannetti, Jr. argued that the ICC would bring economic development to the entire state. “Right now, traffic on I-95 and 295 is backed up every day. . . “You can’t get from Montgomery County, the financial center of the state to Baltimore, the economic engine of the state. Please let us build this road. Let us build it today,” he said.
Maryland Del. Carol Petzold predicted there would be 553 fewer traffic accidents in local neighborhoods if the ICC is built.
Detailed environmental studies of the ICC are currently being conducted by the Maryland Department of Transportation and results will be presented this summer. The TPB will vote on including the ICC in the long range plan in the fall.