Speed limit increase on the Intercounty Connector

State lawmakers who represent Montgomery County are asking the Maryland Transportation Authority to increase the speed limit on the Intercounty Connector from 55 to 65 miles per hour.

The MDTA says it's considering a study of the proposal, but it's unclear when such a study would happen.

"55 mph is not fast enough for that big highway," said a motorist. "It should be 70-75, at least 65."

Drivers around Silver Spring say if the speed limit on the ICC was higher than 55 mph, they'd use it more often.

"It'd be an incentive to drive down the ICC," said driver Steve Carter.

But other drivers say anything faster than 55 is not safe.

"There are a lot of accidents, there is a lot of death now, so no, I'm not in [agreeance] about that," said driver Nuha Hadad.

State senator Nancy King is one of the local lawmakers pushing for an increase.

"I get on that road, it's wide open, smooth, clear," King said. "There's no traffic. A comfortable speed limit would be 65 mph. It's hard to go 55 mph on that road."

The MDTA points out the ICC was designed as a state route, not following interstate standards like I-95. As such, any increase in the speed limit would require an engineering study following state and federal standards exploring topics like geometric design, actual usage and safety history. Because the ICC has been open for less than a year, that safety history is limited.

The Transportation Authority also notes even if drivers traveled the full 16-mile length of the ICC going 65 miles per hour, it would only shave off about a minute and a half.

"I think people are driving that anyway, but if we raise it they will go 70 instead of 65," said driver Kevin Gitau.

Meanwhile, some nearby residents who have long opposed the ICC say they hear a constant roar of traffic on the roadway, especially at rush hour, and they worry about the noise created by 18-wheelers shifting gears at increased speeds.

But in residential areas, Senator King says sound barriers line the ICC so that should not be an issue. She also said her office has received calls and emails from both drivers and residents who support her effort to raise the speed limit.