Will This Boost Transit? Maryland Promotes Driving on $2.5 Billion Tollway

The state of Maryland spent $2.5 billion building a new toll road called the Intercounty Connector, but use of the highway hasn’t met expectations. Local media have taken to wondering, “Why is the ICC so empty?

Maryland's $2.5 billion Intercounty Connector has had trouble attracting drivers, so state officials are trying to market the road. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/5516151899/## Flickr user Dougtone##

Now Tracey Johnstone at Greater Greater Washington reports that state transportation officials find themselves in the contradictory position of trying to drum up more car trips, even though Governor Martin O’Malley has set a laudable transit ridership target:

The [Maryland Transportation Authority] is on the stump to encourage drivers to use the new toll road. Last Sunday, MdTA had a booth at the Bethesda Farmer’s Market. Workers handed out literature showing how to sign up for E-ZPass, without which drivers on the ICC face an additional charge.

Promoting the ICC seems a strange use of state money when Maryland’s governor has set a state goal of doubling transit use by 2020. An MdTA spokesperson claimed that this is standard outreach aimed at encouraging use of the electronic E-ZPass system to pay tolls. But the focus of the agency’s signage was the ICC itself, not the electronic pay system.

If the ICC were an isolated road, encouraging more people to use it might not be a problem. Yet drivers on the ICC access it from other crowded roads, such as I-270, Route 29 and I-95. These roads need fewer drivers, not more.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Transit in Utah wonders if state governments are ill-suited to address contemporary challenges. Hard Drive breaks down Tuesday night’s Presidential debate to measure the depth of discussion on transportation issues. And Systemic Failure laughs at the weak tea plans to make San Jose’s monstrously wide Capitol Expressway pedestrian-friendly.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Light Rail Line Hangs By a Thread as Maryland Goes to the Polls

|
With Election Day fast approaching, Streetsblog Capitol Hill is turning our attention this week to key governor’s races. As Ya-Ting Liu of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign recently wrote (and as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made painfully clear), “decisions by state and local elected officials ultimately determine whether federal transportation policies become instruments of […]

Maryland on the Verge of a Fix for Transportation Funding Woes

|
Maryland is one of a growing number of U.S. states that’s found itself in a tough spot when it comes to transportation funding. The state blew through its transportation funds when it built a big highway project called the Intercounty Connector. Now, the state has so little money left that unless something changes, it won’t be […]

AASHTO: America’s Best Transportation Projects Are All Highways

|
Are you ready to be inspired? Well, good, because the American Association of State Highway and Transportation just released its list of finalists for the “America’s Transportation Award” Grand Prize. These ten projects span every sector of the transportation world, from enormous highway projects to … less enormous highway projects and highway bridges. Voting is […]