Montgomery County lawmakers pressed state transportation officials Tuesday about why the speed limit on the newly opened – and smooth-as-glass – Intercounty Connector is 55 mph.
Sen. Nancy J. King (D) asked whether the speed limit could be increased, perhaps to 65 mph, saying it had been “hard” for her to obey the legal limit.
Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley responded that “you do get the sense you could go faster” on the new toll road, which connects Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. But the secretary stopped short of saying the state would make the change.
That prompted a more direct question from Sen. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery), who said the speed limit is one of the most common topics constituents raise in his district.
“Will you raise the speed limit?” Manno asked bluntly.
Swaim-Staley echoed recent comments from Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) that the state is studying the speed limit, but said it was built in a high-residential area where speed limits are usually restricted below 65 mph.
A higher speed limit may also not shorten anyone’s commute that much, Swaim-Staley said. The state has calculated that traveling the entire 18.8-mile length, from Interstate 270 to Interstate 95, at 65 mph as opposed to 55 mph would shave just 1:20 off the entire trip.
The Post’s Dr. Gridlock recently noted that the ICC was not built to Interstate standards, as was I-95, where the speed limit north of D.C. is 65 mph.
Lawmakers encouraged Swaim-Staley to move quickly on a review of whether the speed limit could be raised safely
Unlike in many previous hearings, the only talk of the toll road’s hefty price came in a light moment:
“It is being used,” Manno said, pulling out his cellphone during the hearing to read aloud a recent text message from his wife: “Your toll bill is $110 … call me now!”