In his Oct. 14 Close to Home piece, Richard S. Relac concludes that the state has not considered his assessment of a Route 28/Route 198 connector road. Mr. Relac is wrong.
The Maryland State Highway Administration and Montgomery County have long discussed the 28/198 connector; it is shown on Montgomery County master plans, and it is shown on the master plan for highways. Mr. Relac may be pleasantly surprised to learn that this connector road most likely will be built one day; however, it is not scheduled to be built in the near future because it is not the panacea that Mr. Relac presumes it is.
I hate to find myself arguing on behalf of the highway administration's alignment for the intercounty connector (ICC), because the administration went out of its way to design an environmentally insensitive and generally obnoxious alignment. Leaving aside the shortcomings of this alignment for another day, Mr. Relac's contentions about the 28/198 connector do not hold water. There are three goals to building a full-scale ICC: (1) to move the greatest possible volume of traffic between (and along) the I-95 and I-270 development corridors (thereby increasing the utility of the corridors while relieving congestion on county roads), (2) to decrease travel time between these corridors and (3) to increase safety of travel between the corridors.
The problems with using the 28/198 connector to achieve these goals are numerous. First, Route 198 is already congested, and it is projected to have a failing level of service after it is built to six lanes. Likewise, Route 28 is seriously congested. Second, the Route 198/I-95 interchange will become an unmitigated disaster if Route 198 is designated as the official ICC.
Third, Route 28 and Route 198 run through the downtowns of Rockville, Spencerville, Burtonsville and Laurel, thus necessitating so many bypasses that it brings into question just how much of the existing alignment is usable under Mr. Relac's proposal. These bypasses will result in much of the same environmental impact, cost and neighborhood intrusion on which Mr. Relac bases his opposition to the highway administration's alignment.
Fourth, traffic studies demonstrate that at least 70 percent of the traffic on the ICC will be commuter traffic, with commuters beginning their trips along the alignment and heading to an employment center at or near one end. Moving the ICC as far north as Mr. Relac recommends means moving it farther away from the people who are expected to use it the most.
Fifth, one of the few things that the highway administration alignment has going for it is that it would be a controlled access road with six or seven interchanges and no intersections. The 28/198 connector would have numerous signalized intersections (at least 15 to 20) and dozens of hazardous access points for neighborhood roads and driveways.
Montgomery County has already permitted unrealistic and unreasonable development, and much more is in the pipeline. Much of this development was predicated on the construction of roads that have yet to be built. Not building the roads is not going to make these new residents and workers go away nor is it going to stop additional residents and employees from coming.
THOMAS E. DERNOGA Laurel