The intercounty connector (ICC) is an example of the lack of leadership in Maryland in planning for the future, protecting the quality of life and creating livable communities.
The ICC fails a cost-benefit analysis, and the taxpayers lose. The ICC price tag is up to almost $3 billion, not including costs to the environment, recreation, communities and health. For benefits, the ICC will not reduce traffic on the Beltway or on many local roads and intersections. And it does not address the root cause of congestion, our driving and land-use patterns. In fact, it will ultimately cause a significant increase in traffic by spawning the kind of sprawling, auto-dependent development that got us into this traffic mess.
In the long run, the best approach to relieving congestion is to convert the ICC route to parkland with an east-west bike route, and work to actually solve rather than continue congestion. But getting off the road-building treadmill would take vision and leadership, something that seems in short supply in Maryland today.
Montgomery County prides itself on being a national leader in providing services to residents. With the building of the ICC, it appears that once again the county could have an opportunity to win awards for the county executive's office.
If the southern route of the ICC is ever built, the county will have to come up with another name for the new communities it will create. The area of the county that will be bounded on the north by the ICC, on the east by Interstate 95, on the south by the Beltway and on the west by Interstate 270 will need a new name. People living within this huge area will have the unique distinction of living in one of the largest gated communities in the country. Miles of concrete, asphalt and sound barriers will surround them. How about calling it the Inside Concrete Community?
The ICC is a dinosaur project that should've been allowed to become extinct. The $1 billion to $3 billion cost of this monster could be better spent on widening existing east-west roads, improving intersections and dramatically expanding the Ride On bus system.
Stephen G. Gunnulfsen
The ICC is an abomination that will have permanent, devastating impacts on the ecosystem and quality of life in central Montgomery County.
The fact is, the ICC will cut a huge swath through the last mature contiguous forests and sensitive ecosystems in central Montgomery County.
Anyone who has visited the areas that will be destroyed in the Paint Branch, Northwest Branch and Rock Creek parks would be shocked at the thought of bulldozers ripping down the mature trees that make these places so special. These delicate ecosystems are vital to protecting the watersheds associated with the Chesapeake Bay. Building the ICC is a major step backward in the state of the Chesapeake, not to mention a slap in the face to those who have worked so hard for many years toward its preservation.
This also applies to efforts to protect the environment and quality of life in Montgomery County, such as parkland acquisition, the establishment of the Upper Paint Branch Special Protection Area, and area-wide stream buffer zones. Progress toward environmental preservation to date will be wiped away if construction is permitted. No amount of storm-water management will prevent the destruction by the ICC of the last and best tracts of stream-valley ecosystems left in central Montgomery County.
Once they are lost, they are lost forever.
As the energy bill moved through Congress and it became clear that the bill would do little or nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Maryland officials gave a thumbs-up to the intercounty connector and a thumbs-down to reason.
They are apparently comfortable with continuing to encourage more automobile use -- and thus more oil consumption. They are apparently ignoring the fact that this astoundingly expensive project was put on the planning maps decades before the term "suburban sprawl" was coined. Moreover, the state's own numbers have shown that the ICC will not relieve traffic on the Capital Beltway.
The financial and environmental costs of any ICC alignment are unacceptable.
The ICC will divide our neighborhood in half. That will most likely be the end of our bicycle-riding, pet-walking and neighborhood soccer games. Everyone thinks that we knew about this all along, but many of these neighbors aren't local; in fact a great many of them are immigrants, first-time home buyers.
What's going to happen to those of us who will be driven out of our homes and businesses? Everyone knows how dramatically the cost of real estate has risen so that most professionals can't even consider living here. Whatever happened to [County Executive Douglas M.] Duncan's statement that if you're good enough to work here, you're good enough to live here? It all seems so hypocritical.
You asked people to tell you how the ICC would affect them personally. It will not affect my driving much, except that it will clog up intersections on nearby Randolph Road a lot. It will also make traffic on U.S. Route 29 worse from Randolph to Maryland Route 198. The ICC will definitely not make my trips to BWI easier, particularly since I generally take MARC or Metrobus to that airport.
The ICC will make the air I breathe much worse, and it will make the parks I treasure a great deal worse. The Northwest Branch, a few blocks from my home, is already badly affected by sediment from development. Building the new highway will make that much worse.
I think we can write off the Anacostia as a dead river despite all the pious words from our noble politicians. It and its tributaries are goners. Likewise, Rock Creek will be badly affected by the ICC. In general, I would be hard-pressed to find any stream-valley park in Montgomery County that will not suffer serious deterioration and that I will want to spend time in. In a nutshell, my quality of life will suffer for no benefit.
At some point, it's important to side with what little is left of nature in our community and against new pavement that simply encourages further growth of cars, traffic, gasoline consumption and related commercial and residential development.
We know that American automobile and truck driving is among the top three contributors to the country's disproportionately large emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We know that human-induced climate change most directly threatens the world's poor and its nonhuman species and will for centuries to come. And we know the ICC will destroy or irreparably damage one of Montgomery County's most valuable and beautiful ecosystems, that of the upper Rock Creek watershed.
To quote President Reagan, if not us, who? And if not now, when?
From a personal perspective, we oppose the ICC because its perverse effects on other aspects of the environment and neighborhood life will far outweigh the benefits. By itself, a half-hour of saved travel time at a final cost of probably between $3 billion and $6 billion is not justified, especially at a time when the future availability of federal funds is so questionable, given other national priorities and the deteriorating condition of existing highway infrastructure. We also note a growth policy in Montgomery County that recently has shown signs of being out of control while simultaneously our civic leaders pursue the granddaddy of all development catalysts.
All new roads in any solution to east-west automobile traffic will generate more pollution somewhere, but this is undoubtedly the worst of the possibilities. It will concentrate along a single corridor levels of air pollution that will make the air quality in recreation areas we now use along the proposed route too unsafe. And we have recently learned that there will be more use of bridges to span environmentally sensitive areas like ours. This should effectively wipe out a number of natural vistas we and others have enjoyed for years.
John and Kathy Sheehy
According to the state's study of ICC impacts, I would have to deal with even more traffic on the local roads I travel if the ICC is built. (The study found that the ICC would increase vehicle miles traveled on local roads from 7,728,000 to 8,426,000, or by 9 percent.)
And the ICC itself would be of little use to me because I'd be reluctant to pay a toll of $4 or more to use a road that had destroyed the public parklands where my children first heard the flutelike song of a wood thrush, caught tadpoles and hunted for arrowheads.
Those who favor the ICC believe that it will help traffic congestion, and that is true for a few people (1 percent of trips taken). But the state's own study shows that the great majority of Montgomery County folks will see no traffic relief, or that traffic will be worse when the ICC is built.
Interstates 270 and 95, the Beltway, 50 percent of the local roads and a number of congested intersections studied will have no traffic relief or worse traffic with the ICC than without it. This toll road ($3-$5 one way) will exacerbate sprawl, encourage driving at a time when we've run out of cheap oil and suck up transportation dollars that could be used for other projects that have been proven more effective. It's a 1950s solution for a 2005 problem.