Maryland’s plans for congestion relief near Washington, D.C., recently got a boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) through its approval of a $516 million loan for the Inter-County Connector. “The ICC will make the commute easier for drivers who suffer each day through some of the most congested highways in the nation,” says Federal Highway Administrator Tom Madison.
The loan, announced Dec. 23, will help the Maryland Transportation Authority build the ICC, an 18-mile six-lane limited-access toll highway linking Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. ICC tolls will vary according to traffic levels throughout the day, and drivers will pay tolls electronically to avoid waiting at tollbooths.
The ICC also will connect the Interstate 270 and I-95/US 1 highways in the two counties where no contiguous high-capacity facility exists to accommodate east-west travel, and where local roads are experiencing extremely high traffic volumes. “Open road, variable electronic toll roads are clearly the wave of the future,” Madison says. “By using prices to manage capacity for this road, we can ensure that it never becomes congested.”
The Maryland Transportation Authority will secure the loan and repay it with revenue from a number of toll facilities throughout Maryland, in addition to revenue generated by the ICC. Flexible loan terms available through TIFIA make it possible to finance a broad variety of projects. The ICC loan is one of the largest ever made under the TIFIA program. The total cost for the project, estimated at more than $2.5 billion, also will be funded through GARVEE and other revenue bonds and state funds.
Madison says the project was a priority project under President Bush’s executive order on environmental streamlining and stewardship. It is also one of the longest planned road projects in U.S. history.