Maryland's Intercounty Connector traffic increases, but still lags behind early projections

Two years ago this month, the Intercounty Connector in Maryland was extended to Interstate 95.

Maryland Transportation Authority officials say the ICC is in the middle of a multi-year “ramp-up" when drivers are still learning about the highway and how it can save them commuting time.

In two years, the Transportation Authority says ICC traffic volume has increased 75%. Last fiscal year, MDTA officials say more than 17 million trips were taken on the ICC and total revenue reached $39.59 million, with drivers taking longer trips than planners originally estimated.

In fact, MDTA officials say traffic volumes on the ICC are growing at an average rate of 2.6% each month.

Driver Vera Moten said, “I don't mind paying the toll. It saves me a lot of time getting back and forth.”

But critics point out that traffic counts and revenue are still well below early projections for the highway. In response, ICC officials argue those projections were from the planning process and calculated with incomplete data.

MDTA Acting Executive Secretary Bruce Gartner said, “This is a 30 year road at a minimum and what we're seeing is volumes are ramping up in line with our projection on revenue so that means we've done the right things financially.”

But not everyone is sold on the toll road.

Driver Lia Little said, “It's not worth it… It's like 3 dollars. That's one way. That's a rip off to me.”

Another driver, Robert Parrish, said, “It doesn't make financial sense, unless I have to travel out on a business trip I might have to take it. But other than that, I take local roads, so it's not an issue for me.”

Many drivers have long complained that the ICC speed limit is too low.

The state agreed to raise it from 55 mph to 60 mph last spring.

Figures from MDTA Police show the number of speeding citations immediately dropped in March, but citations have since increased. Police say that might be because more drivers are using the road.

MDTA Police Spokesperson 1st Sgt. Kevin Ayd said, “You know the traffic increase goes up our numbers are going to go up. Enforcement is going to step up… It could be that the motoring public was obeying the actual speed limit.”

MDTA officials say construction continues on the next segment of the Intercounty Connector, extending the ICC from I-95 to US 1. It's scheduled to open to traffic in spring 2014.