ICC

Headlights move eastbound from Montgomery County towards Laurel on a stretch of the Intercounty Connector near Burtonsville. (Doug Kapustin, Baltimore Sun / November 22, 2011)

Lightly traveled and pothole-free, the newly opened Inter-County Connector is an invitation to speed, and that has become a sore spot with commuters.

A review of the toll road's speed limit is under way and preliminary results and recommendations are expected in a month, said Doug Hutchinson, the Maryland Transportation Authority's chief engineer. The study will take into account the sharpness and bank of curves, sight distances and accident history on the road, formally known as Route 200.

"There are a lot of facets that need to be checked out," Hutchinson said. "We don't have a long track record to rely on."

The road wasn't open an hour last November before the calls began to raise the speed limit from 55 miles per hour to something with a little more giddy-up. State lawmakers from Montgomery County who use the road to get to Annapolis this session have raised the issue with Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley during budget talks.

The $2.5 billion state road between Gaithersburg and Laurel was designed for 60 mph, Hutchinson said, and it would be unusual to raise the limit to match or exceed that.

The benefit would be minimal, transportation officials noted. Raising the speed limit from 55 to 60 would shave less than 90 seconds from the 16-mile trip.

Since Nov. 22, transportation authority officers have stopped 2,141 vehicles and issued 1,258 citations for speeding, driving under the influence and other traffic violations, said Major Michael Kundrat, acting chief of the authority's police. One DUI arrest involved a driver who was three times over the legal limit and driving in the wrong direction, he said.

During peak hours, three police cruisers and a supervisor work the road, Kundrat said.

"We are targeting 70 mph and over and have issued 176 citations for 75 and over. If you've going over 75, you're going to get a citation," he said.

There have been just seven accidents, none of them serious, he added.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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