Anne Arundel keeps quiet about its opinions on ICC

Q: What input has the State Highway Administration received from Anne Arundel County regarding the proposed Intercounty Connector?

A: None as of Thursday.

The proposal to construct an 18-mile highway link between Interstate 270 in Montgomery County and Interstate 95 in Prince George's County has been deliberated for decades and is the top transportation priority of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Proponents of the estimated $2 billion Intercounty Connector, or ICC, say such a link would reduce road congestion and generate development. Opponents contend that the highway would cause irrevocable environmental damage and exacerbate regional sprawl.

Few deny that the ICC, if constructed, would affect traffic flow and business development, and the environment as well, in adjoining counties, including Anne Arundel. Two potential ICC routes would start near the West County communities of Laurel and Maryland City.

A University of Maryland study released in September concluded that the road would generate 14,000 to 16,000 new jobs in the ICC's "impact area" -- made up of parts of Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. The report said the ICC would put Baltimore-Washington International Airport in a stronger position to compete with Washington Dulles International Airport.

Public comment on the ICC was extended from Feb. 15 to this past Friday, yet the county had not filed an opinion as of Thursday, SHA said.

County land-use spokeswoman Pam Jordan could not be reached for comment.

Q: When will construction on the Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis be finished?

A: Likely by the end of the fall, said SHA spokeswoman Kellie Boulware. The bridge linking downtown Annapolis to Eastport was closed two recent nights to shore up its foundation. For three weeks next month, workers will replace the joints, and travel will only be allowed one way at a time between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Repainting over the summer will be one of the last parts of the $920,000 project.

Last September and October, the northbound and southbound decks and sidewalks were replaced as part of the first phase of the project.

Q. What guaranteed ride-home programs exist in the county for people who use alternative forms of transportation to get to work, such as busing, carpooling and biking?

A. In North County, the BWI Business Partnership has offered employees of member organizations this service for at least the past 10 years. Those who car pool or use public transportation at least three times a week are eligible for a ride home via taxi or rental car, up to six times a year.

In the Annapolis area, the city of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently began offering a similar program for enrolled businesses, called the Fare-less Cab. For those employees who hold a city bus pass, car pool or travel by bike or foot at least eight times a month, they can rely on a cab, up to $50 per ride, up to four times a year.

In South County, the Annapolis Regional Transportation Management Association works with Commuter Connections, a service that provides car pool and guaranteed-ride-home programs for commuters who work in the Washington area. Eligible employees are offered up to four rides home a year. Commuter Connections has provided more than 15,000 trips since 1997.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Phillip McGowan at phillip.mcgowan@baltsun.com or send faxes to 410-269-4224 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun, 60 West St., Annapolis 21401.

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