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Governor Hogan Dedicates ICC to former Governor Ehrlich

Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Deborah Lambert

Under a sunny morning sky in early September, Governor Larry Hogan Maryland’s Intercounty Connector (ICC) to his Republican compatriot, former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, during a ceremony in the Rockville area, overlooking the highway.

After decades of disputes and logjams over the proposed highway, Ehrlich, who served as governor from 2003 to 2007, helped secure federal funding to build the highway that stretches from I-270 in Gaithersburg to Route 1 in Prince George’s County. Hogan served in Ehrlich’s Cabinet as Appointments Secretary during the Ehrlich administration.

During the dedication event on September 6th, former Gov. Ehrlich recalled that after taking up the ICC cause in earnest back in 2002, he suddenly realized that some of the aging road signs were actually left over from the Eisenhower administration. “I found one that said ‘ICC Study Underway; I Like Ike!”

“It wasn’t until Gov. Bob Ehrlich made it a top priority of his administration that the ICC moved forward and became a reality,” Hogan said. “Ehrlich had the vision and foresight to realize the transformative effect that this 18-mile link [between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties] would have on the entire region.” The idea was originally launched in the 1950s as part of a larger plan for an outer Capital Beltway.

Governor Hogan, who continues to enjoy a 70 percent approval rating among Maryland voters, added that the ICC was Ehrlich’s “signature achievement” for Maryland. He credited the former governor with persuading then-President George W. Bush to have the federal government help pay for it and for his non-partisan efforts in persuading Democrats such as former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan to build it.

Hogan also recalled jokingly that Ehrlich was so focused on completing this highway project that he nicknamed his transportation chief, Bob Flanagan, “Secretary Bob if-I-don’t-get-the-ICC-built-I’m-fired Flanagan.”

“It’s as good as government gets,” Ehrlich said, adding that “this was hard. There were a lot of people who never thought it would get done. There was a lot of cynicism.”

After decades of stops and starts, endless meetings and planning sessions, the first section of the ICC was completed in 2011, as part of “Maryland’s first all-electronic toll road in the state where tolls are collected at highway speed as motorists drive under tolling structures.”

On its first day of operation, more than 19,000 cars took to the road and during the following weeks, the ICC generated some interesting tweets from pioneer drivers, including the following:

  • Now that daylight is hitting the ICC, the earth tones on the sound walls are visible.
    Makes the road feel like Whole Foods…
  • Just took my first spin on the ICC: smooth, a little lonely. I was expecting, perhaps,
    a marching band. Got what it is: a road…

The project was finally completed in 2014, and despite some grousing from Democrats about the $2.4 million cost of the nearly 18 mile highway, the fact is that driving time from Gaithersburg to BWI has been cut by 50%, and traveling to work from Prince George’s County to the I-270 Technology Corridor takes 30 minutes less than it did before.

Hogan said the highway’s usage has increased from about 30,000 vehicles per day in June 2012 to a current volume of around 65,000 vehicles per day now.