The traffic volume on the Intercounty Connector has increased by 75 percent since opening to Interstate 95 almost two years ago, according to new data from the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Kelly Melhem, a spokesperson for the transportation authority, explained that this fairly new addition to the state’s highway system is still in its “ramp-up period” as its popularity increases and more motorists “identify the benefits of using the ICC.”
The transportation authority’s annual financial statement reports that more than 17.2 million trips were made on the ICC between July 2012 and June 2013 and the total revenue reached $39.59 million, which was slightly higher than the projected amount of $39.56 million.
MDTA Acting Executive Secretary Bruce Gartner said in a press release that traffic on the road approached 40,000 vehicles daily during the month of September adding that drivers are making longer trips on the ICC than the authority had originally estimated.
Though the speed limit was originally set at 55 mph, studies and crash analysis confirmed that the speed limit could be safely raised to 60 mph and with that increase in March, the transportation authority believes that drivers could potentially further decrease their travel time from end to end by a minute and a half.
A traffic study released this year by the transportation authority and Maryland State Highway Administration found that drivers on the ICC have cut their travel time in half when compared to travelers on local east-west routes. It also found that drivers on other local routes during peak hours have experienced a travel-time reduction of 5 to 11 percent compared to before the ICC.
“The study had very positive conclusions,” Melhem said. “It is not just helping ICC motorists, but also helping traffic on local roads.”
Melhem said that the next step towards helping congestion on Maryland roads is to continue the construction that will extend the ICC from Interstate 370 and its current ending at I-95 to U.S. 1. The segment is projected to open next spring.