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Intercounty Connector Gets Final Approval
The announcement would have been hard to believe as recently as 1999, when Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) canceled an environmental study because of concerns about the highway's effect on streams, wetlands and wildlife. Opponents maintain those concerns and argue that the highway will lead to more sprawl that will beget more traffic.
Supporters say the highway is necessary to link the thriving business community that runs along I-270 to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Port of Baltimore, both accessible by I-95. They also say it will take drivers off local roads and give them a way across the crowded northern suburbs.
The connector will "give back thousands of hours of time to our constituents, particularly in Montgomery County," Ehrlich said. "It'll make our neighborhoods safer. It'll serve transit users with express bus service."
Ehrlich and Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan delivered their remarks over the catcalls of several protesters, including Eve Burton. A state police officer, under orders from a supervisor to get Burton away from news cameras, pulled her away and forced her to the ground.
"I am a 4-H Club leader, mother of four children, and this is what you do to me?" Burton shouted as the cameras followed and surrounded her. "The governor wants to take my home!"
Burton rose and continued to join others in shouting over the remarks of state and local officials, prompting Ehrlich to plead several times for "mutual respect."
Burton is a resident of the Cashell Estates community, where about a dozen homes will be destroyed to make way for the highway. Original plans for the connector did not call for running it through the community, but the current route was proposed in 2003 to avoid parkland, state officials said.
The federal government "basically said damage of Rock Creek Park could not be mitigated," Flanagan said of the original plans. "The road might not have been buildable if we had taken that route."
Staff writers Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner contributed to this report.