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Traffic on the ICC: Looks can be deceiving

Monday - 3/19/2012, 2:56pm  ET

icc
The ICC is Maryland's first all-electronic toll road. (Photo/ICC Project)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Take a ride on the Intercounty Connector in Maryland during rush hour and drivers may wonder -- where is everybody?

And while the road may seem wide open, Maryland Transportation officials say current traffic volumes are right on target.

"Traffic overall is consistent with projections," says Kelly Melham, deputy director of communications for the Maryland Transportation Authority. "Approximately 20,000 vehicles on average on weekdays."

The MdTA isn't able to get a full total on "transactions" on the roadway just yet, but says it is able to get to the 20,000 number by looking at volumes along the east and west sections of the roadway.

In some cases, certain sections of the roadway are actually far out-pacing the 20,000 estimate, according to MdTA statistics. For instance, on March 1, the traffic count for the stretch of road between I-370 and MD 97 was 30,331. On that same day, the traffic count for the stretch of road between US 29 and I-95 was 20,615.

The MdTA has preferred to remain conservative with traffic volumes, but does expect about 25,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day to be using the road by this summer.

"We are seeing regular growth in traffic," Melham says. "Traffic will continue to grow and ramp up over time -- about a three year period."

She does say the volume of the western side of the roadway has been heavier than on the eastern side.

The ICC is Maryland's first all-electronic toll road. It costs $4 during rush hours to ride end-to-end on the 18.8 mile road between I-95 in Laurel and I-270/I-370 in Gaithersburg.

The MdTA says about 85 percent of drivers on the road are now paying with E-ZPass. Drivers who do not use E-ZPass will receive a bill by mail for 150 percent of the original toll.

Design work is underway and construction is expected to begin later in the spring on the final one-mile stretch of the road between I-95 and Route 1 in Laurel. That segment will open late next year or in early 2014.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)