ICC debate rolls on
The ICC wall
In eastern Montgomery over the last 50 years, an invisible wall has been built. It extends along the Prince George's County line, from the beltway north to the Howard County line. It blocked the movement of people as well as the Iron Curtain did in Eastern Europe. The "Wall" was built by the dream of the InterCounty Connector. Because the ICC was in the Master Plan, no other major road improvements connecting Montgomery and Prince George's counties were ever considered.
I went to school and worked along the I-270 corridor in the late '70s and early '80s. Since then, they have built hundreds of beautiful new roads and highway interchanges in that area. In the same time span, the roads in the area of the "Wall" had remained unchanged. I lived in Olney and later got a job in College Park, I found that it took 50 minutes to commute each way. Howard County has done a great job making east-west connections between Rt. 29, I-95, Rt. 1 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Why couldn't Montgomery and Prince George's counties do the same instead of building mostly north/south roads for years?
The reason why the ICC was delayed and put off for 50 years was due to the NIMBYs, environmentalists, Montgomery/Prince George's infighting for state transportation funds, and the Montgomery County Council's "Rockville centric" bias to any needed east Montgomery County development.
With all this, the ICC is finally being built to finally fix the [neglect] of needed east county road infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is being built as a toll road, which again won't impact people in Rockville, but will impact the people along its route in their daily trips. It will also continue to segregate Prince George's from Montgomery County. Because why would anyone live in Prince George's and work in Montgomery (or visa versa), if the only way to get there on their daily commute is on a very expensive toll road?
It will come down to "what if you build it, no one uses it due to the tolls?" With the current state of the economy, why can't you use gas taxes and eliminate the need for tolls on the ICC and share the cost just like any other state road project? You then will also have the cost saving of eliminating the expensive toll collecting system from the ICC construction plan.
Chris Miller, Burtonsville
A modest proposal for the ICC
I continue to be opposed to the InterCounty Connector with or without tolls. I am just as much opposed to tolls as the next person, but what can we do about it. The only other alternative if you are going to make cutbacks in spending is to shut down the ICC before it is open. This road was a very costly venture given the expenditures for materials and construction. Another problem is the politicians who were backing this project. They wanted it so badly because of the votes. But if that be the case, I think those politicians should be riding that ICC each and every day and be made to pay those tolls out of their pockets. In short, these pro-ICC politicians should put them selves and their money where their mouths are. With today's advanced communications and laptop computers, there is no reason why they should not.
Michael Mendelson, Rockville