House bill could raise ICC speed limit to 70 -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected on Jan. 29, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

The speed limit on the Intercounty Connector could reach 70 miles per hour if a bill, introduced during the General Assembly's current session, passes.

Del. Aruna Miller (D-Dist. 15) of Darnestown and Del. Neil Parrott (R-Dist. 2B) of Hagerstown are co-sponsoring the bill that would raise the maximum speed limit on interstates and expressways statewide from 65 to 70 miles per hour.

The speed limit on the ICC would automatically increase from 55 to 70 miles per hour if the bill is passed.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is currently conducting a study of single-vehicle accidents on the ICC to gauge whether raising the speed limit would be safe, the Gazette previously reported. The study is projected to be completed in February.

Miller said she believes the bill would pass regardless of the study's results because of increasing pressure — and repeated complaints — from constituents. The complaints are threefold.

“One, the posted speed limit is way too low,” she said. “Two, the toll is way too high. And three, the enforcement is excessive.”

Miller said ICC users should not be “penalized” for using the ICC by being ticketed for driving slightly above the current 55 mph speed limit.

“In all likelihood, I think people are going to go about 70 because that's what they feel comfortable doing,” she said.

A separate emergency bill, introduced by Sen. Jennie Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, would raise the speed limit on the ICC to 60. MDTA spokesperson John Sales said the ICC is designed to accommodate a 60 mile per hour speed limit.

“I was trying to save the state some money and have them put up 60 mile an hour signs,” Forehand quipped. She said the MDTA likely will be unwilling to raise the speed limit higher than 60.

“If you put it up to 65 now, people are going to be driving at 75 and 80, and that might not be safe,” Forehand said.

The state senator introduced the legislation as an emergency bill so it would move quickly through the Senate. She expects the bill to see little opposition and estimated that the Senate will pass the bill in February.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hear Forehand's bill on Feb. 7.

The House Environmental Matters Committee is scheduled to hear Miller's and Parrott's bill on Feb. 5.

Riders and drivers of Montgomery County: stuck in congestion on your morning commute? Seeing major delays on the Red Line? Send me a note at bumper@gazette.net.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to the ICC as a freeway. It is a toll road.