What’s opening this week?
Since February, drivers have been able to use six miles of Intercounty Connector between Interstate 370 in Shady Grove and Georgia Avenue, just south of Olney. This week, the next 10 miles of the six-lane highway will open to I-95, near Laurel. The opening will create highway connections at Layhill Road, New Hampshire Avenue, Route 29 (Columbia Pike) and Briggs Chaney Road, as well as at I-95.
Exactly when will it open?
The Maryland Transportation Authority, which administers the highway, has scheduled the opening for 6 a.m. Tuesday. It’s possible that conditions could allow a slightly earlier opening, but the target is 6 a.m. It’s also possible that bad weather or a last-minute snag could force a brief delay. When icy conditions were forecast for the February opening of the first segment, the schedule fell back a day.
Will I get a free ride?
Yes. The Intercounty Connector was built to be a toll road, but the MTA is going to offer a free test-drive period, just as it did when the first segment opened. The free rides — over the entire length of the connector, including the part previously opened — will continue through Dec. 4. The free period is an opportunity for drivers to see if the new highway will save them time. But it also will be a chance for the MTA to test its electronic tolling equipment before collecting revenue.
Free for Thanksgiving week?
Yes, and that’s been on the minds of some holiday travelers. Because it opens up a highway link between I-270 and I-95 north of the congested Capital Beltway, drivers on the west side of the D.C. region are correctly thinking they can use the connector as a shortcut to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.
What happened at Norbeck Road?
The Intercounty Connector link at Norbeck Road, just east of the Georgia Avenue interchange, closed this month. It was a temporary accommodation that planners hoped would distribute traffic across an area that served briefly as the eastern terminus for the highway. All traffic entering and exiting the connector in the Olney area will now use the Georgia Avenue interchange.
How do I pay the toll?
Don’t worry about finding the tolling points. They will find you. The tolls will be collected electronically as vehicles pass under brown gantries that span the highway. Devices on the gantries will communicate with the E-ZPass transponders on vehicles and assess the toll. The tolls are collected at highway speed, and the Intercounty Connector speed limit is 55 mph.
For vehicles without E-ZPass devices, video cameras on the gantries will record images of the license plates, and the vehicle owners will be sent a bill.
What is the toll?
When toll collection begins Dec. 5, drivers of cars and light trucks with an E-ZPass transponder will pay a peak toll rate of 25 cents per mile, an off-peak rate of 20 cents per mile and an overnight rate of 10 cents per mile. That’s the same per-mile rate they’ve been paying since the connector’s first segment opened.