SHA administrator responds to ICC criticisms
I am responding to several letters that have recently appeared in this newspaper, which attributed a host of challenges to the Intercounty Connector. I would like to attempt to place those issues in proper perspective.
It is important to recognize that the ICC financial plan is project-specific and funds cannot simply be transferred to other priorities. Less than 8 percent of ICC funding is drawn from the traditional source of road and transit funding specifically, so the ICC would not excessively burden the transportation fund. Doing away with the ICC would not put other projects back on track.
The ICC is being managed within its original $2.4 billion budget. That said, bids for the third major ICC contract came in approximately $100 million higher than estimated, due to enormous fuel and building material cost increases. Consequently, a contract to build collector-distributor lanes along Interstate 95 — not a direct part of the ICC — that was previously included in the ICC financial plan has been deferred. Additional cost-saving actions may be taken to ensure total costs for the ICC do not exceed its original approved budget.
Regarding one writer's assertion that the three-year deferral of improvements to the Georgia Avenue/Randolph Road junction will cause major traffic delays, forecasts indicate a negligible difference in total traffic volumes, whether the first segment of the ICC is built or not. Once completed, the ICC will benefit this intersection and 37 other major intersections in both Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
Since major ICC construction began less than a year ago, a great deal of progress has been achieved. Approximately 30 percent of Contract A, a seven-mile stretch of highway between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue has been completed and 5 percent of Contract C, a four-mile section between U.S. 29 and I-95, is completed. By late fall, the middle section of the ICC, a seven-mile section between Georgia Avenue and U.S. 29, is expected to begin construction, putting 17.9 miles of the 18.8-mile project underway and on schedule.
Neil J. Pedersen, Silver Spring
The writer is SHA administrator.