State announces ICC tolling plan
The Maryland Transportation Authority has unveiled a tolling plan for the Intercounty Connector under which passenger vehicles would pay as much as 35 cents a mile for travel on the highway when the first phase of it opens next year.
The authority also announced a series of public hearings next month to gather coments on the plan.
Since the ICC's revival under the Ehrlich administration, the state has planned to set tolls for the highway at levels that would keep the highway running free of congestion by pricing a certain amount of the east-west traffic onto free local roads. But until now, the Maryland Department of Transportation has balked at providing estimates of what that cost will be.
In its announcement Wednesday, the authority estimated that the cost per mile for two-axle passenger vehicles at peak hours -- 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- would likely vary from 25 to 35 cents a mile. It put the cost per mile at off-peak periods at 20 to 30 cents a mile. The agency said the peak periods could be adjusted by as much as an hour earlier or later once the road opens and traffic patterns are established.
The 18.8-mile toll road will link Interstate 270 in Montgomery County with the Interstate 95-U.S. 1 corridor in Prince George's County when it fully opens by 2012. The first phase, a 5.65-mile segment between Georgia Avenue and Shady Grove (Interstate 370), is expected to open next fall.
If the estimates prove accurate, they indicate that a passenger vehicle traveling the full length of the ICC from Laurel to Shady Grove -- or the reverse --would pay about $6.10 for the 17.5-mile tolled portion of the trip at peak times. The authority, however, estimated that less than 5 percent of drivers will travel the full distance. It put the average estimated trip length at 6.6 miles.
The authority said it would accept public comments on the plan until the close of business on Nov. 23. It said it would hold informational meeting to answer the public's questions at open houses Oct. 19 at High Point High School in Beltsville and Oct. 21 at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring. Public hearings, at which citizens can offer testimony, will be held Oct. 28 at High Point High School and Oct. 29 at Shady Grove Middle School in Gaithersburg. All of the meetings are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Comments can also be submitted at the web site iccproject.com or sent to ICCTolls, 11710 Beltsville Drive, Suite #200, Beltsville, MD 20705.