ICC toll hearing draws little interest
Wednesday night's hearing on the Maryland Transportation Authority's ICC toll proposal in Beltsville brought a sparse response -- most of it predictable complaints about the decision to build the road in the first place.
During the first two hours and ten minutes of the three-hour hearing, only 11 people spoke -- three of them local elected officials. There were long periods where the board stood in recess, waiting to see if any speakers would show up.
Nobody spoke in favor of the authority's toll proposal. But the arguments against it were for the most part unfocused and not very specific. Some argued against collecting tolls at all -- apparently unaware that that train long ago left the station.
Prince George's County Councilman Tom Dernoga made one of the few points that might resonate with the authority board. he pointed out that the proposal of a 3-mile minimum falls hardest on residents of Prince George's County who might want to use the stretch between Interstate 95 and Virginia Manor Road -- a 3/4-mile trip. It's not a big revenue item and it does pose an equity issue to charge them for 3 miles.
But based on the turnout at the first hearing, it's hard to see the board making any big changes to the proposal, which could mean tolls of up to $6 for a one-way trip the full length of the ICC when it opens in late 2011 or early 2012.
There's another hearing Thursday night in Gaithersburg. Those who know are expecting a bigger turnout in Montgomery County.