Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007

Preliminary work on Intercounty Connector now under way

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State highway officials told a handful of Derwood residents last week that they could expect some dirt and traffic delays as construction on the Intercounty Connector begins in Derwood and Olney.

At a Greater Shady Grove Civic Alliance meeting on Dec. 12, Odessa L. Philip, the State Highway Administration’s community outreach leader for the Intercounty Connector, told residents that work is starting on Georgia Avenue, Redland Road and Interstate 370, all of which are a part of the first building phase of the ICC.

Last month, the ICC, an 18.8-mile road that is designed to connect Laurel to Gaithersburg, was given the green light by U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. after he dismissed arguments in lawsuits brought by county residents, the Audubon Naturalist Society, Environmental Defense and the Sierra Club to stop the roadway because of errors in air quality and other studies.

Philip said the groups have 60 days to appeal in federal court in Richmond, Va., and that she had not heard of any such action as of last week.

In the meantime, she said, preliminary construction is proceeding on the highway, which is scheduled for completion in 2012.

Philip said residents can expect to see surveyors and some ‘‘excavation and moving of earth.”

Detours are being set up near Redland Road while a bridge is under construction there, she said. Construction of a bridge on Georgia Avenue will require northbound Georgia Avenue traffic to shift into the median, she said.

Philip explained that as the Intercounty Connector winds through the county, most of its segments would pass under local roads, which is the case for Redland Road and Georgia Avenue.

The highway will cross over streams and environmentally sensitive areas and, occasionally, some roads. For example, it will cross over Shady Grove Road at a height of 18 feet and six inches, she said.

She said construction vehicles are only allowed to park on state roads. Philip told residents they should report vehicles if they are parked in neighborhoods.

Walls are also slated to be erected along much of the first stretch of the project to shield residents from highway noise.

Meetings to inform and gather input from residents on the sound barriers are scheduled to begin next month. The dates have not yet been announced.

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