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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 5:25 PM
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Maryland's new all-electronic toll road: The ICC

The first segment of the first (and likely last) major new highway to be built in the Washington, DC region in 30 years opened last week. It's called the ICC - the InterCounty Connector - and when completely finished it will eventually go from Gaithersburg to Laurel, connecting the I-270 and I-95 corridors. The goal was to make a more direct connection between the wealthy and fast growing Gaithersburg area of Montgomery County with Baltimore and Prince George's County.

The ICC is a toll road, but there are no toll booths. Instead, overhead toll gantries read cars as they pass under and, depending on whether or not each car has an EZpass, either charges the EZpass or sends a bill in the mail to the registered owner according to a picture taken of the car's license plate.

The segment that opened last week is only about half the length. The eastern portion of the road is still under construction, so only the part from Gaithersburg to a little past Georgia Avenue is available.

There are lots of problems with ICC, as with any major new highway. Intellectual discussions about the wisdom of building highways aside, however, it's certainly notable when such major new pieces of infrastructure open. So I had a friend pick me up at the Metro station that's right at one end of the ICC and drive me down its length (and then back) so I could take pictures.

Here they are:

This first picture is on I-370 as we pull out of the Shady Grove Metro station parking lot.


Exiting on to the ICC:


And here we go, headed east. 100% new asphalt.


Approaching Redland Road.


The eastbound toll gantry, with info board in front.


At one point the ICC slips through a residential neighborhood, with houses close by on both sides. To mitigate the effect the state agreed to put the highway in a short tunnel, and cap it with a park. Here's the tunnel.






Still driving eastbound, we pass the westbound toll gantry. Good opportunity to zoom in and get a good look.




Still headed eastbound, coming up on Georgia Avenue (MD-97).


Georgia Avenue. If you follow this south it goes into DC and eventually becomes 7th Street, one of the more important streets downtown.


One exit past Georgia Avenue the highway temporarily ends, at Norbeck Road.


Construction is ongoing for the eastern portion of the highway, but for now everybody has to get off.


The temporary end of the highway is on what will eventually be the off-ramp at Norbeck Road. When the highway is done this will be a one-way exit, but for the time being it's a two-way ramp that also serves as the entrance for westbound traffic. It's a bad choke point and is already congested.


Up on Norbeck Road, looking east at the still-under-construction part of the ICC:


... And turn around to get right back on.


Headed back westbound now, near Emory Lane.


Hey! We didn't get one of these on the other side.


Coming up on the westbound toll gantry. It's looking a little imposing.




Here's that tunnel again.


Coming up on Shady Grove Road and the Metro.


Instead of exiting, we blow by and head for I-270. After the Metro exit, the ICC ceases to be a toll road and becomes I-370 for 3 miles.


On I-370, approaching I-270. Sorry for the bad quality, the sun was right in front of us and, y'know, we were going pretty fast.



And finally, the I-270 interchange.
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 6:13 PM
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sweet pictures. the new highway looks 'nice and shiny'.
thanks for posting!!
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 6:35 PM
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nice pics

always been curious about how this look. pretty sharp! caught the article you posted on this earlier. gotta admire how quickly you responded to the request for pics. hats off! thx
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 6:53 PM
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I find it strange that the highway number changes. Why didn't they just name it MD-370? I would think it would eliminate some confusion. Or are most freeways in Maryland referred to by name (the ICC)? Just curious.

Always fun to go try out new roads like this.
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  #5  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plinko View Post
I find it strange that the highway number changes. Why didn't they just name it MD-370? I would think it would eliminate some confusion. Or are most freeways in Maryland referred to by name (the ICC)? Just curious.

Always fun to go try out new roads like this.
yea, why didn't they go with interstate 370 again? is the new freeway not interstate standards?
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:01 PM
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Nerdy, but totally something I would do.
Thanks for the pics.

Just for comparison sakes, here's our gantries.


src: http://www.floridasturnpike.com/imag...%20NB_0111.jpg
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  #7  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:04 PM
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Quote:
I find it strange that the highway number changes. Why didn't they just name it MD-370?
Good question. I really don't know the answer.

There is a MD-370 already, but it's a tiny 2 mile road in the middle of nowhere that they could have changed if they'd wanted to. In fact, there was a previous MD-200 that they changed in order to accommodate the ICC.

It's even weirder than you mention, because I-370 is itself only 3 miles long and was originally built in the 1980s to be the first segment of the ICC, and to reach Shady Grove Metro.

Quote:
why didn't they go with interstate 370 again? is the new freeway not interstate standards?
It's fully interstate compliant, but almost nobody names their new highways Interstates anymore, because the way highways are funded has changed in the last 20 years or so. The money mostly comes from states now, so states keep them in their own systems. If you look around the country, you'll find that pretty much every major highway built since about 1990 is a state route.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:17 PM
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There's nothing stopping Maryland from petitioning AASHTO and FHWA to include the rest of the ICC as a "non-chargeable Interstate" (basically meaning the Feds don't get "charged" for Interstate construction funding), though it would make more sense to do so once it's completed to I-95.

Dan, two things. First, would be nice to see these types of captions on your Flickr pages themselves (they weren't there when I saw your photos on Flickr itself this morning). Second, I was under the impression that the connection to Norbeck Rd was only temporary, and that there would not be a permanent interchange here (due to proximity to Georgia Ave). Has that since changed?
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:25 PM
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^
I've already added captions to the flickr photos, in anticipation of the BDC post.

And I don't actually know about Norbeck Rd. I just assumed it would stay open as a one-way off-ramp since it's already there and would work perfectly fine. If the state intends to rip out a perfectly good off-ramp there then that's certainly possible, but I didn't know about it. You'd think the logical thing to do would be to leave that ramp there but just not build out the rest of the interchange.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:48 PM
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Thanks for the quick answer Cirrus.

I wouldn't even have advocated that it be a badged interstate, just a matching number. A similar circumstance that I can think of is the 210 in Southern California. It's a designated interstate from San Fernando down through Pasadena and out to San Dimas. An extension was built from San Dimas to San Bernadino (connecting to I-10) that opened in about 2006 or so that is named CA210. In doing so, an older portion that had been built in the early 90s in San Bernadino was resigned from CA30 to CA210. A short older section of I-210 from San Dimas to Pomona and the I-10 was renamed as CA57, which previously ended where I-210 connected to I-10.

Now that I think about it, the 110 in LA is the same, with both a badged interstate section and a state section (though the state section is not and never will be built to interstate standards).

(feels weird using the 'I' designation in that we here in Southern California refer to most freeways by number preceeded by 'the')

Since this freeway has no people working the tolls, what's the fine for travelling on it without a Fastpass (or EZpass or whatever it is)?
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 7:53 PM
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DC's only numbered "state" route is 295, to match I-295 nearby.


source: wiki

Quote:
Since this freeway has no people working the tolls, what's the fine for travelling on it without a Fastpass (or EZpass or whatever it is)?
There's no "fine", exactly. It's completely legal to drive it without an EZpass. Cameras will take a picture of your license plate and the state will mail the registered owner of that car a bill.

There is, however, something like a $3 processing fee if you don't have an EZpass, to recoup the cost of the mailing. So you might call that a "fine".
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 8:32 PM
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Maryland is always on the cutting edge concerning government, transportation, economy, etc. Just crossing the state line from myopic Pennsylvania is energizing.
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  #13  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 9:26 PM
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Thanks for these pictures. Frankly, I think this highway is needed badly and will be glad to see it completed. Back in the day, I lived in Silver Spring/Takoma Park among the 'Stop the ICC' yard signs and agreed with them a time. But, eventually I came around and saw the absolute need for this route. It looks great, too. Maryland highways are typically very nice in appearance.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2011, 9:37 PM
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This felt like one of those AARoads pages, which is a good thing.
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  #15  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2011, 2:42 AM
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It is interesting to finally see some progress on this thing. I lived in Columbia, MD from 2001 to 2006 and I remember the almost non-stop bickering on the evening news about the ICC. Thanks for posting.
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  #16  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2011, 11:24 PM
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Are there plans to add more lanes once there is more money available?

I am always surprised by how narrow many of the freeways are in the DC area. 270 around Rockville and Gaithersburg seems like the only road with somewhat adequate capacity.

I would expect the ICC to have at least 4 or 5 lanes on each side with an extra HOT/HOV lane or two.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2011, 3:58 AM
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As a toll road, there's no real need for the ICC to be more than 6 lanes.

Kinda surprised with your freeway width comment too...most of the freeways down here are 6 or more lanes.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2011, 4:41 PM
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Nice to see fresh asphalt, even if I (and most of us) are reluctant to support new highways. Seems relatively placid and unobtrusive.
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Old Posted Mar 11, 2011, 4:34 AM
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This project should help (once it opens to 95), but the tolls are pretty high. I wish they would build the purple light rail line already.
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