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Why does ICC seem empty?

Wednesday - 7/11/2012, 8:15am  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The $2.5 billion InterCounty Connector in Maryland won't be full of vehicles for years to come, but that free flow of traffic is by design.

Since opening to vehicles between Gaithersburg and Laurel last year, wide stretches of the road still remain empty. That's certainly not the norm for a region used to crawling highways.

"We built a highway that will be there not just for today, but for the future, so of course we built in extra capacity," says Harold Bartlett, head of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

"We are currently exceeding the vehicle counts that we thought we would have at this particular point in the highway's history."

He says there's been greater utilization of the road on the western end, near the Interstate 270/370 corridor and lesser use on the eastern end near Interstate 95. In April about 30,000 vehicles used the ICC's western portion and about 20,000 used the eastern half on weekdays.

Projections say the road will really start filling up and hitting capacity in about 20 years.

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.

Work is under way 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.)