Members of a Montgomery County task force yesterday became the latest in a long list of civic groups and politicians to oppose construction of a major highway connecting Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
"There are far less costly and less drastic solutions than a new cross-county highway," Allen Bender of Rockville said in a report submitted to the County Council, which appointed the 14-member citizens advisory committee. The report capped a three-year study of state plans for two four-lane highways linking I-270 in the Rockville area to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
"A legitimate case has not been made for (these) disruptive" highway plans, added task force member Sammie R. Young of Silver Spring. A longtime critic of the connector, Young said current county roads need only "upgrading" to meet the region's transportation needs.
For more than a decade, the two roads--a 20-mile length known as the Inter-County Connector (ICC) and its nine-mile spur, called the Rockville Facility--have been criticized by officials and residents of the two counties as unnecessary, too expensive and environmentally dangerous.
Some Montgomery officials considered the two projects as all but dead, but the chief planner for the $221 million ICC and the $246 million Rockville spur yesterday insisted they are very much alive.
"There's still a very realistic chance that the ICC or the Rockville facility will be built," said Neil J. Pedersen, deputy director of the planning and preliminary enginnering office of the State Highway Administration.
Pedersen said a major east-west artery between Montgomery and Prince George's is essential to keep pace with the projected 60 percent increase in population and jobs in the next 30 years.
State transportation officials, who later this month will hold hearings on the plans in Rockville and Beltsville, also are considering a $149 million, 25-mile highway that would incorporate portions of heavily-traveled Randolph, Fairland and Briggs-Chaney roads, as well as parts of Routes 198 and 28. Pedersen said state officials will approve at least one of the three plans or decide against construction by the end of the year.