ROCKVILLE- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Douglas Gansler and lieutenant governor candidate Delegate Jolene Ivey released a video last month on their campaign’s website proposing a commuter discount pass for what they call the “underutilized Intercounty Connector (ICC).”
In this installment of their video series “Front and Center”, Gansler and Ivey discuss the possible benefits of having such a discount plan for the ICC that is focused on easing traffic congestion, reducing tolls on commuters and attracting more drivers to the road.
Gansler and Ivey are advising a 50 percent discount to commuters who travel at least 15 times a month of the ICC, which the duo says will save drivers up to $120 a month or about $1500 annually.
The 18-mile, six-lane toll road, which cost approximately $2.5 billion and links Interstate 270 in Montgomery County with Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, has been fully opened since 2011.
The cost for a two-axle vehicle, including most cars and light trucks, between I-370 and I-95 is $8 for a round trip during the peak hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
The off-peak round-trip price is $6.40. The round-trip cost between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. goes down by half.
Gansler noted that tolls can cost E-ZPass users $40 a week and $60 for regular users.
“Offering a commuter pass to drivers who use the ICC frequently could save commuters thousands of dollars each year. It would provide an incentive to get more drivers to use the ICC – and ease congestion on other roads,” Ivey said. “That’s something we would all benefit from.”
Similar commuter savings passes have been installed on other Maryland roads. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) proposed E-ZPass discount plans for John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Highway, Hatem Bridge and harbor crossings in addition to Bay and Nice Bridge commuters back in June 2011.
In addition to Gansler’s advocacy, The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce and Democrat for Montgomery County Executive and current Councilmen Phil Andrews (District 3) have also been vocal in their efforts to cut the cost of driving on the ICC. Citing the road’s high tolls and low use, Andrews has advocated that the MDTA slash toll prices to entice more drivers to the road.
John C. Sales, Public Affairs Manager at MDTA thinks otherwise. “Currently, ICC toll rates are set at the lowest end of the approved tolling ranges, the roadway is generally meeting traffic and revenue projections, and a recent study confirmed that overburdened local roads are seeing some congestion relief.” Sales adds, “The ICC was built for the future and not to be at full capacity with the traffic demands of today. A key purpose for tolling the ICC is to manage these future traffic demands and congestion in order to continue providing the time savings and reliability that it does today. Using a different tolling model by offering commuter discounts is counter to the roadway’s purpose.”