Construction of the final segment of the Intercounty Connector, the state's first all-electronic toll road, is scheduled to begin this spring.
The one-mile stretch of highway will connect Interstate 95 to U.S. 1 inPrince George's County. It will cost $89 million and be completed by late 2013 or early 2014.
Officials with the Maryland Transportation Authority said the ICC is being used by about 20,000 motorists on weekdays, in line with projections. The western terminus at Interstate 270 near Gaithersburg is seeing slightly greater traffic than the more recently opened eastern end.
"People are using parts of the ICC to make their own alternate routes to work," said Harold Bartlett, the authority's executive secretary.
Use of the variably priced highway is projected to increase to 25,000 to 30,000 motorists on weekdays by summer, he said.
The $2.5 billion highway bypasses the traffic-choked Capital Beltway and provides a more reliable link between the I-270 technology corridor and points east, including Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. A trip from Laurel to Gaithersburg that used to take 47 minutes now takes 17 minutes on the ICC, Bartlett said.
Prince George's County ExecutiveRushern L. BakerIII said the completed road will relieve congestion near Laurel and "improve access to the business community and expand economic development."
The final ICC segment will include a partial interchange at Virginia Manor Road and a signal-controlled intersection at U.S. 1 near the Muirkirk MARC commuter rail station. Construction also will include separated parallel lanes along I-95 between the connector and Route 198 interchange for traffic to safely merge at exits.
Construction is expected to generate 1,000 jobs.
The first ICC segment, from I-270 to Georgia Avenue, opened in February 2011. The second portion, from Georgia Avenue to I-95, opened in November.