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March 25, 2011

On Google, the ICC is open all the way to I-370


On Google World, the 41.9-mile trip from Baltimore to Gaithersburg takes all of 48 minutes along the brand new Intercounty Connector. Just take Interstate 95 south, hop on the ICC and you’re virtually there.

On Planet Earth, most of the ICC hasn’t opened yet. The 12 miles between I-95 and the Montgomery County high-tech hotbed is largely a muddy track where bulldozers are still doing what bulldozers do.


In a textbook illustration of the computer adage “garbage in, garbage out,” Google and another popular Web-based mapping service have jumped the gun on the opening of the longest segment of Maryland’s new toll road by about a year.

“Beware: Everything you read on the Internet may not be true,” Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA-Mid-Atlantic, chortled when told about the error.

A 7-mile stretch of the $2.6 billion ICC, between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 370, opened late last month. But the segment between Georgia Avenue and I-95 is under construction and expected to open late this year or early in 2012.

“Clearly Google understands that many of our people who drive our roads also have all-terrain vehicles,” Anderson said. “Google’s just a little ahead of all of us.”

As funny as the mistake may be to a detached observer, it could be less than amusing to a motorist who was unfamiliar with the region and depending on the directions. A traveler from Baltimore to Montgomery County, for instance, could drive down I-95 expecting to get off on the ICC, only to get lost upon finding find no exit.

Doug Beizer, a communications manager for an engineering society, stumbled across the misleading directions Thursday when he was plotting a route between his office in Landover and Montgomery General Hospital in Olney.

Google Maps assured him that Route 200, as the ICC is also known, was the way to go. Beizer, who is married to a Sun reporter, knew that wasn’t so.

“I saw this map and it drew this line west on a road that doesn’t exist yet,” said Beizer, whose work travels have made him familiar with the I-95 corridor. “I knew it was one of those glitches.”

Beizer tipped off the newspaper. Another Sun reporter was able to reproduce that error and also determined that Google – as well as Yahoo! – were directing motorists onto the ICC on a trip from Baltimore to Gaithersburg and other theoretical journeys across the state.

Mapquest, a rival, provided directions more applicable to 2011. It guided drivers to the tedious but existent 58-minute slog along the Capital Beltway and up Interstate 270 that the ICC is intended to render obsolete.

Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, said the agency had received an email about the problem and was trying to track down the sender. She said the agency would work with geographic data providers to fix the problem.

“If you took a ride down there today, you’d see a very active construction zone,” she said.

Messages left for Google and Yahoo! have not yet been returned.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:28 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads


If you tried to get directions from Baltimore to London it used to tell you to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. How about using the "Report a Problem" link on Google Maps instead of calling them and expecting to get a react quote for your snarky article?

Roads? Where we're going we won't need "roads."

This story deserves the front page headline spot? Google makes mistakes too. The real story here is the slower-than-a-turtle pace of the SHA in getting this highway built. The whole thing should have been done months ago.

This has to be one of the most idiotic (though slightly amusing) articles that I have seen in the Baltimore Sun. Even coming from Mr. Dresser, who apparently likes to outdo himself with each new article.
The link to report a problem with the directions is in the lower left corner of the page. Rather than complain about it and trying to make a sensational news story about it, how about clicking the link and reporting the error? That's the reason why the link is there in the first place.
So what exactly is the main point of this article? That Google made a mistake? That information on the Internet can be unreliable and nonsensical?
I think we all know that the Internet is filled with senseless drivel. The above article is a perfect example of that.

anon: Baloney. I did not read remotely snarky in anything in Michael's posting above.

As usual, it was spot-on correct.

Would that major highways could get built so quickly!

I can't believe this was the lead article on the Baltimore Sun website. How stupid. Aren't there more important things going on in the world?

Some time ago I asked you if it was possible to ride a bike on the paved but unopened portion of the ICC. Now would be the perfect opportunity to finally post an answer!.

COMMENT: No, you can't. The unopened stretch is part paved, part not, and it's now a construction site.

I guess a story like this is better than yet another story about a killing, robbery, etc, etc...That said...really?? Google getting a route wrong is news???

Lol this literally happened to me last Sunday. I was going from Towson to Olney and upon reaching the 'exit' I had no idea where to go. It kept telling me to turn around and go back up 95 to lead me back to the very same non-existent exit. Fail!

That's true I remember that. It was some kind of joke and kind of funny. This one though if it is a joke it is kind of sick. The map does not even show a road below the blue line.

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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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