Despite challenges with construction, the InterCounty Connector (ICC) is cutting travel times in half and is costing less than the state anticipated, according to a Maryland Transportation Authority report.
According to the report presented to the Maryland General Assembly last session, motorists traveling local routes during peak hours experienced a 5 percent to 11 percent reduction in travel times compared to before the ICC opened, according to the study. Additionally, according to the report ICC traffic continues to grow.
“Overall, daily traffic volumes are consistent with our projections for the roadway,” said John Sales, a spokesperson for the Maryland Transportation Authority. “In April, the average weekday traffic on the west end approached 50,000 vehicles.”
With new toll facilities like the ICC, traffic is expected to grow as users become more familiar, he said.
“While you may go out on the ICC today and not see it jam-packed full of cars, we are seeing a gradual increase in the amount of vehicles that are using it each day, each month,” said David Buck, media relations manager at the Maryland State Highway Administration. “Anyone who uses the ICC can benefit from it.”
The project will cost an estimated $2.399 billion, $47 million less than the $2.446 million the state accounted for in its original financial plan, Buck said.
“It required a monumental effort by the entire ICC team to build the first three contracts, several environmental projects and keep the project on budget,” he said.
ICC project personnel are currently working on “punch-list items,” Buck said, on each segment of the ICC. These items include things like landscaping, clean-up of the work area and finalizing contract documents.
When the ICC is complete, the road will benefit people living in the Laurel area crossing into Montgomery County or to I-95, Buck said.
However, the ICC has not been without its challenges.
The state planned to open a segment of the ICC that connects I-95 to Route 1 this spring, but the opening was delayed due to severe winter weather, Buck said.
“Nearly non-stop winter weather prevented construction crews from working consistently through the winter months,” Buck said.
Officials now project the new segment to open in late summer or early fall.
In early 2013 inspectors discovered cracking in 10 bridges which required additional repairs.
The contractors covered the total cost of the repairs, Buck said, and never posed any significant safety issues.
“This is more for the Prince George’s County commuters whereas the first 18 plus miles were certainly a benefit for the folks on the Montgomery County side particularly,” Buck said.
The ICC was never intended to relieve or affect highway traffic, Buck said. Rather, it was built to decrease traffic on county roads and secondary roads.
“We have seen as much as a 15 to 20 percent decrease in volume on those roads,” Buck said.