Who can afford to use ICC toll road?

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006

County Councilman Philip M. Andrews and his colleagues deserve thanks for the recent critical disclosures related to the building of that high-ticket toll road known as the Intercounty Connector (‘‘ICC tolls too costly, councilman says,” Dec. 28 story).

Andrews highlighted facts, until now ignored, about the daily tolls that will be required to use the ICC.

According to State Highway Administration figures, baseline ICC toll rates per mile during peak periods would initially be nearly twice the national average for toll roads. A complete round trip on the ICC would cost as much as $6 per day or between $1,400 and $1,500 per year for a daily commute.

This sounds comparable to Metrorail but when using the proposed ICC the cost of gas, plus wear and tear on the car (and driver), has to be added to the toll figure.

More insidiously, the $2.1 billion (and still counting) ICC would soak up hundreds of millions of highway dollars that could fund many other projects that would bring more immediate traffic relief. Examples of such projects already in place include the extension of Route 28 between Layhill Road and New Hampshire Avenue and the adjustment of the Sam Eig Highway-Great Seneca intersection. If the ICC is built, funds for similar future projects will be very scarce.

Opponents shudder at the cost, environmental impact and destruction of 60 homes, but even its supporters or those neutral on the issue should be dismayed at the high toll costs to be heaped upon its users and its impact on other necessary highway improvements. How many will be able to afford to use the ICC regularly except for those commercial concerns that will pass the cost on to their customers?

Nancy Burkhart, Gaithersburg