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Written August 8, 2003 by Daniel Reed
It has been a major controversy for decades, the saviour of road hogs and the scourge of environmentalists. Ask anyone in Montgomery or Prince George's Counties and it's likely they'll have an opinion about the InterCounty Connector, a proposed 17-mile highway connecting I-270 to the west and I-95 to the east.
Surely it doesn't matter what my opinion is about the ICC, being only a student at Blake High School. But then again, it does. A road - any road, from alleyways to highways - can have an effect on the people around it. This road will affect everyone - from the family who loses their home to a highway they knew would come but doubted it could to the car dealer whose business gets free advertising from being seen on the highway. My opinion, your opinion - everyone's opinion matters here, and it seems that not everyone in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties is being heard.
So I present to you, so that you may form your own opinion, Ten Things the ICC Will Do (if Built):
1) Unite Communities - ICC supporters say that by connecting Gaithersburg and Laurel, people will have the freedom to live, work, etc. wherever they choose, producing a chain of interconnected towns and neighborhoods (Stonegate/Good Hope, Layhill, etc.) which rely on one another for residents, jobs, etc. 2) Divide Communities - The ICC could also go through or near several neighborhoods (Tanglewood, Longmead Crossing, etc.), isolating them from shops, schools, and other communities. This makes for decreased mobility and lower property values. 3) Ease Commuting and Transportation - This is basically the first devoted east-west link between I-270 and I-95. People all over the region would have, as a result, shorter commutes - not just those in the immediate area but those with decreased congestion in other areas - such as in Bethesda and Silver Spring. 4) Make Commutes More Difficult - Highways largely support cars. Therefore, people who cannot drive, cannot afford to drive, and people who just don't want to drive are left without the ability to travel freely. 5) Decrease Air Pollution - Cars pollute more when idle, such as in traffic. The ICC would reduce congestion, allowing for more moving cars and less smog. 6) Increase Noise Pollution - Cars may not produce as much exhaust on the ICC but they'll still make noise. Even the sound berms or insulated panels which line many major roadways don't keep all of the noise out of residential neighborhoods. Besides, they're awful to look at. 7) Increase Growth – A new road will bring development to the areas along it, much like I-270 in the past few decades. The ICC will bring new homes, offices and shops to areas all over Montgomery County – from East County to Midcounty. 8) Slow Growth – The Prince George’s County Council has come out against the ICC as it will take money west to Montgomery. Now that the Konterra project has dropped its interchange at the ICC, Prince George’s County will probably not experience the same level of growth that its more affluent neighbor will. 9) Help the Environment – In addition to more environmentally friendly building practices on the part of the State Highway Administration, the ICC will save the environment by directing growth to East County. Homes built in the low-density East County are homes that aren’t built in the largely rural Upcounty, where most new housing in the county is being built. 10) Hurt the Environment – Wherever it is built, the ICC will have some effect on the environment, which may include cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats. This may be especially prevalent in the East County and in Prince George’s County. In addition, the ICC would bisect four major parks: Rock Creek Regional Park, North Branch Stream Valley Park, Northwest Branch Park and Upper Paint Branch Park. - Decrease Traffic - Any well-planned road can alleviate traffic, and the ICC is intended to do just that. It provides a time-saving alternative to the Beltway for people travelling further north, and takes cars off of existing roads. - Increase Traffic - This is a map of roads which are projected to have increases or decreases in traffic if the ICC is built. However, instead of decreasing traffic the ICC may simply re-allocate it from east-west routes to north-south routes the highway would cross.
Here are some links that may also help you to decide whether the ICC is best for Montgomery and Prince George's Counties:
InterCounty Connector Study This is the State Highway Administration's site for the project. This has everything from history of the ICC to its possible designs. There are also ways to provide input on the ICC. ICCYes This is a pro-ICC site with members from all over the Washington-Baltimore area. Their intent is to have the ICC built along the "Master Plan Alignment" first proposed five decades ago. Montgomery Intercounty Connector Coalition, Inc. The MICC is an anti-ICC group seeking to find alternatives to the highway. Stop the InterCounty Connector This is a very outspoken anti-ICC site that provides a dearth of information about the ICC, its benefactors, and its environmental effects. It also provides info about other killed DC-area highway projects. Coalition for Smarter Growth The Coalition for Smarter Growth pushes for - what else? - Smart Growth, which may include stopping the ICC, depending on whom you ask. Eyes of Paint Branch The Eyes of Paint Branch is an organization which seeks to stop the ICC due to its adverse effects on the Paint Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia River. BeyondDC.com BeyondDC is a DC-based planning site. They feature a great deal of information - mostly on transit, but you'll find bits about the ICC, such as this one.
E-Mail Me with any suggestions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The New Urban Suburbanite Visit Christ United Methodist Church. Last Updated: October 3, 2003 Pictures for all communities with the exception of Fairland Greens and Tanglewood were taken without permission. All other pictures are the property of Daniel Reed.