Full Speed Ahead on ICC Construction

By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 23, 2009

A road that was debated for more than 40 years is on schedule to be fully constructed in less than a tenth of that time.

The first seven-mile section of the Intercounty Connector is nearly half-built through Gaithersburg and Rockville, and construction that began recently on the middle segment through northern Silver Spring will pick up this spring and summer, Maryland highway officials said.

In northern Prince George's County, motorists on Interstate 95 are seeing the beginnings of one of the ICC's major interchanges. Work on a 3.7-mile segment that extends west to Colesville Road (Route 29) is about 30 percent complete, officials said.

Overall, crews are at work on 17.5 miles of the six-lane toll highway's 18.8 miles, and 92 percent of the project's construction funding has been awarded in contracts, highway officials said.

State highway officials recently increased the project's overall budget by $120 million, from $2.44 billion to $2.56 billion. Cost estimates rose after one contract came in higher than anticipated, and engineers have revised budget estimates for two other segments. Delaying some work, including building collector roads along I-95 near the ICC, until 2015 also made the project more expensive, Maryland highway officials said.

As construction enters its second year, the highway's massive scope is becoming far more apparent.

Motorists traveling east-west through central Montgomery County encounter orange barrels, orange fences and numerous signs warning of construction on the future Route 200. Much of the work is being done beyond motorists' view, at least until overpasses are built at major road crossings.

For some, however, the construction hits too close to home. In Derwood's Cashell Estates neighborhood, off Redland Road, giant dump trucks rumble through, and dirt piles the size of small houses stand where almost a dozen homes were demolished.

In the adjoining neighborhood of Winters Run, a wide swath of brown dirt occupied by a dozen bulldozers, dump trucks and other construction equipment runs between homes. In neighborhoods off Shady Grove Road, back yards that once sat on quiet cul-de-sacs abut a giant construction site.

Darrell E. Anderson, mayor of the town of Washington Grove, said residents complain that they have been awakened as early as 5:30 a.m. by trucks that emit loud beeping noises when backing up. The noise continues all day, he said.

"I'm getting called regularly about the sound, that it's just too loud," Anderson said. The community was left without a sound barrier, he said, when "thousands" of trees were cleared to make way for the highway.

"Where there used to be a forest, now it's gone and construction is there," Anderson said. "It's very loud, and we anticipate it will be just as loud once the road is built."

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