GOV. GLENDENING says he is killing the long-sought, never-agreed-to county connector across Maryland's two largest counties. In rejecting the recommendations of his own panel of experts, the governor is proposing a series of halfway measures that he thinks could address the concerns of ICC opponents and satisfy its supporters as well. It does neither. His alternative "crossing" amounts to a stretch of limited-access parkway at each end and little in-between. Residents, commuters and businesses seeking to cross from one dangling new strip to the other would have to zig-zag through various routes, with traffic lights and other invitations to serious congestion. So much for any hope of a smooth high-speed, limited-access freeway link supported by a majority of Marylanders.
Groups long opposed to any cross-county connector are angry because traffic that might travel the governor's labyrinth could emerge at the other end after a while. Those opponents who believe that there is no way to cross this part of the state without damaging the environment reject a sop included in Gov. Glendening's bag of traffic proposals: a suggestion that rail transit could cross somewhere.
In effect, Gov. Glendening is now declaring that no real ICC can be mapped without ruining the environment. He intends to sell state land along one possible route and to convert a right of way along another into parkland. Who might wind up with the land? Perhaps the two counties could preserve it. But what if developers acquired it? How "smart" would that growth be? How long would it be before the landowners there demanded better access? How long would it be before already worried businesses along Montgomery County's technology corridor chose to expand in some other state?
The message from the governor is, in the words of Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, "a real slap in the face of people who have been stuck in traffic for years." It is, in the words of Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry, "a conscious decision to gridlock the region." One hope: It may be just another in a series of vacillating positions taken by the governor.