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February 7, 2011

First phase of ICC to open Feb. 22

The first phase of the long-awaited and long-fought-over Intercounty Connector will open Feb. 22, Gov.  Martin O'Malley announced today.

Drivers will get their first chance to use part of the $2.6 billion toll road that day a 6 a.m. when the state opens the 5.5-mile segment between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue. O'Malley said the highway will be toll-free for the first 13 days it is open -- through March  6.

The section's completion has been delayed by weather conditions in recent months. Today's announcement indicates the state is reasonably confident  it can meet the target date, but it still comes with the caveat of "weather permitting."

The second phase of the ICC -- between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 -- is expected to open about a year from now. The highway was the subject of decades of contention between environmentalists and highway supporters before winning federal approval under the administration of former Gov.  Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The ICC is expected to eventually extend to U.S. 1, but that part of the project has been deferred indefinitely.

The highway will be Maryland's first toll facility for which all rolls will be collected electronically -- either through the use of E-ZPass or by taking the pictures of the license plates of vehicles that use the road. Tolls for passenger vehicles using the full 5.5 miles will range from 60 cents during overnight hours to $1.45 at peak rimes.

The Maryland Transportation Authority will begin collecting tolls March 7. Owners of vehicles that do not have an E-ZPass will receive a bill in the mail for the toll, along with a $3 service fee. That fee is being waived for the first month of the ICC's operation, but will go into effect April 6.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:28 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: On the roads
        

Comments

What a rip-off. What do we pay taxes for? Is this a road only for the well paid?

If you don't have e-z pass you pay 60 cents for the road use and $3 in fees!!! Is anyone thinking?

Any idea when the buses the MTA has planned for the ICC will start running?

I hope so, we play all the taxes in this sate!!

They took loans out for the roadway. The tolls are to finance the loan repayment.

How are you being ripped off? If you don't want to pay the toll don't use the road. If you think you should be able to use the road for free, then urge your local legislator to vote for a tax increase to pay for your free use of the road.

The road has to be paid for somehow, so if you don't want to pay then don't "play".

Sprawl, SUVs, an ever-growing web of asphalt... thanks for killing my children, you selfish fOLks. Will they choke to death on the polluted, overheated atmosphere? Watch the country collapse by the weight of its own debt and the cost-shifting of the entitled? Or die fighting China for the last few drops of oil? Maybe some combination of the three, thanks to the short-sighted pandering to carslaves exemplified by the ICC.

Don't like the commute time? Move closer to where you work, rather than shifting the cost of your wasteful lifestyle onto the rest of us.

Anonymous is an idiot!

Thanks God Ehrlich got the ICC built. Now we need it to continue accross the river to Virginia.

@ Anonymous

Let me know which house along the ICC is yours, and I'll be sure to rev my engine a few times when I drive by it every morning.

Thanks Gov. Ehrlich for making this a much-needed priority.

In a sane state in a sane republic, every new highway built would have to be matched by the construction of a rail line along the corridor where the new highway is to go. The ICC should never have been allowed to be built without such a provision. Of course, the first howl one hears in protest to such a proposal is usually something like: "that's impractical, how can we afford it?" Never mind the unbelievable cost of building highways, which in the long run and usually in the short, vastly exceed the costs of public transit. The retort that buses, which (especially as operated by the MTA) are an atrocious form of public transit, even deserve serious consideration is laughable. You have to be naive indeed to believe that tolls alone are going to pay for the ICC, but even if that were true you may depend on this: the huge ancillary costs, economic, civic, environmental, etc., of its construction and maintenance will be borne by the public. We are one of the richest, most densely populated states in the country, yet we have a dreadful transportation system that drains the economy and makes living here much more miserable than it needs to be, not only for those of us who cannot get around by car but for those of us who have to. Why do we put up with such a state of affairs?

Unfortunately, the liberal politicians spend all our tax dollars on ridiculous items so the governemnt can't afford to build and maintain the roads which should be one of their sole responsibilities.

The $3 service fee for non EZPass holders is onerous. This is extorting everyone who doesn't have EZPass and wouldn't justify paying the monthly charges b/c they don't go through tolls often enough. Just raise the tolls and drop the fee, please. I suspect the state is doing this to make everyone have EZPass, at which point, they will justify installing electronic collection tolls on existing roadways that don't have them now, b/c everyone's got them already.

I strongly advocate methods to more assign the high cost of auto transport, but it's better to do it through gas taxes, mileage taxes, and reduced parking requirements and parking fees than extorting everyone to sign up for EZPass. It's kind of like businesses and govts saying they are going to close down in-person payment offices b/c it's cheaper to conduct business on the internet. But that assumes one already has a computer and internet service--both of which increase an individuals personal costs immensely over the long run.

People are spoiled around here with the lack of local toll roads. Plenty of cities already have toll roads on regular commuter routes.

Don't like it? Then go sit in traffic on the top side of the beltway like you do now.

"Freeways" are actually an anomaly - in the rest of the world toll roads are the norm. We don't want to raise the gas tax or increase any useage fees but we still want free roads. That's just not going to happen - bottom line is that the road is going to have be paid with either taxes or tolls. Take your pick...

I, for one, am looking forward to using the ICC. If I don't want to pay the toll then I'll just go the way that I used to go before the ICC.

What "liberal politicians," Leon? Where are these people you're talking about? It was a so-called conservative politician named Ehrlich that built the ICC. The money spent and yet to be spent by the state on that could have gone toward public transit.

People are spoiled around here with the lack of local toll roads. Plenty of cities already have toll roads on regular commuter routes.

He's right. Even red states like Texas are financing road construction through tolls. Don't believe me? Then go visit Houston sometime and try driving from one side of the city to the other. You can either drive in the "free" lanes and sit in traffic for three hours or drive in the express lanes and pay ICC-level tolls.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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