GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Giddy drivers honked as they drove on the newly opened InterCounty Connector Tuesday morning.
The commute from Interstate 270 to Interstate 95 -- essentially from Gaithersburg to Laurel -- will take you 20 minutes now that the ICC is open.
WTOP's Kristi King drove the stretch Tuesday morning, the first morning the toll road is fully open. Going the posted 55 mph speed limit, she clocked the Montgomery County to Prince George's County trip at well under a half hour.
Without the ICC, getting from Gaithersburg to Laurel took 47 minutes.
The 17.9-mile stretch -- Maryland's first all-electronic toll road -- opened to traffic at midnight, well before its scheduled 6 a.m. opening.
Traffic was intermittent in the early morning hours, but by 5 a.m. the flow of vehicles had picked up to a steady stream. But that stream was still not heavy enough to slow down traffic.
Through Dec. 4, you'll be able to travel the ICC without paying tolls.
The toll you pay will depend on what time of day you use the ICC.
After that, E-ZPass will be required. Drivers who do not use E-ZPass will receive a bill by mail for 150 percent of the original toll.
E-ZPass centers are open in Beltsville and Gaithersburg at the Motor Vehicle Adminstration. The Beltsville location is at 11760 Baltimore Ave., and the Gaithersburg location is at 15 Metropolitan Grove Rd. Both are open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
It costs $46 to open an E-ZPass account -- $25 in pre-paid tolls and $21 for the transponder. There's a $1.50 service charge applied monthly to all E-ZPass accounts for account-maintenance services.
As of Nov. 1, the $1.50 fee is waived for accounts used to pay three or more tolls in the previous month in Maryland - including on the ICC.
You also can buy an E-ZPass online at www.ezpassmd.com or call 1-888-321-6824 with your questions.
The Maryland State Highway Administration has a warning for drivers using local roads near ICC interchanges. There's the potential traffic could be heavier than usual near those interchanges as drivers try out the road during the free two-week test period.
The final segment of the ICC that will connect U.S. 1 and I-270 could still be years away. The goal for that ribbon cutting is the spring of 2014.
WTOP Traffic will keep you up-to-date every 10 minutes on the 8s on 103.5 FM and you can follow WTOP Traffic and WTOP on Twitter. WTOP's Custom Commute cameras also can help you navigate your commute.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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