Nearly a year old, the Intercounty Connector is about $1 million ahead of toll revenue projections and gaining users at a rate of about 3 percent a month, the Maryland Transportation Authority announced Thursday morning.
The all-electronic toll road runs 18 miles, connecting the Interstate 270 business corridor in Montgomery County to Interstate 95 in Prince George's County. Between July of last year and June, the end of the fiscal year, the highway has generated $19.73 million in revenue from 11.6 million trips.
"Once people use it, they're hooked," said Harold Bartlett, the MdTA's executive director.
Meanwhile, the agency is wrapping up its study of whether the speed limit on the road, also known as Route 200, can be raised from 55 to 65 mph, which has become a popular cry from users. A decision is expected before the end of the year.
The $2.6 billion highway is averaging 36,000 vehicles daily between its western terminus and Georgia Avenue — the first segment that opened. The eastern segment, which opened this time last year, is being used daily by 25,000 vehicles. The final ICC segment, which will connect I-95 to U.S. 1, is expected to open late next year or in early 2014.
The agency projects $40 million in revenue in fiscal year 2013.
"We've had steady growth consistent with expectations and that's good news," said David Chapin, the MdTA's senior policy analyst. "It's still going to be a while before we reach congestion levels."
Chapin said the staff is looking at hourly usage figures to gauge when each segment of the highway might reach the congestion level.
"All of this is good news, but one year does not make a trend," he cautioned. "Who knows what could happen?"