The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) today endorsed regional transportation plans that include the Intercounty Connector (ICC). The ICC is the proposed highway which would link Interstate 270 with Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1 in suburban Maryland.
TPB members voted that the plans meet federal air quality standards and have adequate funding schemes. In order for local transportation projects like the ICC to receive federal funding, they must be incorporated in TPB-approved plans.
“They should call the ICC the ‘Golden Highway,” said Laurel resident and Maryland State Senator John Giannetti, Jr. “What raises the economic vitality of our region, affects everyone.” He said the highway would spur economic development and provide better access to BWI airport and business opportunities in Baltimore.
“The ICC is important for me to back out of my driveway,” said Montgomery County resident and Maryland Delegate Carol Petzold, referring to increased traffic that she says plagues many residential streets such as her own. Supporters of the ICC say it must be built to relieve traffic congestion and ease travel across the northern part of the region.
While a large majority of the TPB voted for the transportation plans, members from the D.C. Council, Prince George’s County Council, College Park, Greenbelt and Takoma Park voted in opposition of the region’s financially constrained long-range plan. They said that the ICC would push economic development away from their jurisdictions. Others questioned the funding schemes and priorities that Maryland was proposing.
“There will be a loss of jobs and residents in the core,” said D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson, who serves as vice-chair on the TPB and opposed the ICC’s inclusion in the region’s long-range plans. “From a regional perspective, [the ICC] is not in our best interest.”
The ICC still must complete the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process before construction can begin. However, the ICC cleared a major hurdle with today’s vote because TPB approval is one of the requirements of the NEPA process.
The TPB is the regional transportation planning organization for the Washington region. It includes local governments, state transportation agencies, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), and members of the Maryland and Virginia General Assemblies.