Andrews pushes for lower ICC tolls -- Gazette.Net


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Low volume on the Intercounty Connector (Md. 200) has one Montgomery County councilman calling for Maryland to reduce the tolls on the highway.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews is asking the Maryland Transportation Authority to cut tolls on the ICC in half, saying that after a year of high tolls, few drivers actually use the road.

“The ICC feels like an airport runway rather than a major highway,” Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg.

Andrew’s announcement Tuesday is not the first push by county lawmakers for lower tolls on the road, he said.

In 2005 and 2009, Andrews said he pushed for lower tolls with the support of other county council members.

Now, a year after the ICC fully opened, Andrews said the high tolls have kept volume on the road low because drivers either cannot afford the tolls or are deterred by the price.

And unlike the Chesapeake Bay Bridge where the toll road is the only option, Andrews said there are other roads drivers can take in Montgomery County instead of the ICC.

Average weekday volume on the western portion of the ICC between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue was about 35,000 and about 26,000 on the eastern portion based on September figures, MTA spokesman John Sales said.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, more than 11.56 million trips were made on Md. 200 with a total revenue of $19.73 million, as compared to a projected $18.71 million, according to an MdTA October news release.

While volume is a bit higher on the western portion than expected, Sales said it is consistent with MTA’s traffic volume projection during the a “ramping up” period of three years where volume will increase as drivers begin to use the road.

As for tolls, Sales said the ICC tolls are at the low end of a range approved for the project. To go below that or reduce tolls by half would require repeating the public hearings held in 2009 to set the toll range, he said.

MTA is providing half of the ICC’s financing through tolls and will own, operate and maintain the roadway once construction is complete, according to its website.

The ICC cost $2.45 billion to build and was designed to help alleviate traffic congestion.

To drive the length of the ICC from I-370 to Interstate 95 during peak hours costs a 2-axle vehicle with an E-Zpass $4. Those without an E-Zpass pay $6 for the same trip during peak hours.

Off peak, that trip with an E-Zpass is $3.20, without is $4.80. Between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. drivers can travel the ICC’s length for $1.60 with an E-Zpass, $2.60 without.

kalexander@gazette.net