ANNAPOLIS – A group of lawmakers is trying to block construction of the Inter-county Connector, saying the highway is too costly and its funding sources compromise future project construction.
Delegate Mary A. Conroy, D-Prince George’s, and seven other lawmakers Thursday submitted legislation to prohibit Maryland’s Department of Transportation and Transportation Authority from spending to design, build or acquire land for construction of the ICC.
The lawmakers also opened fire on Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s plan to fund the $1.7 billion project with Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE bonds. GARVEE bonds are repaid with future federal dollars and transit funds.
“The GARVEE bonds would preclude any of the districts from really getting any projects for the next 20 years,” Conroy said. “That’s not right for the rest of state.”
Finally, the bill’s sponsors said they don’t want the 17-mile ICC, which is planned to connect Interstates 95 and 270, going through their districts.
Other sponsors are: Delegates Barbara Frush, D-Prince George’s; James W. Hubbard, D-Prince George’s; Mary-Dulaney James, D-Harford; Anne R. Kaiser, D-Montgomery; Adrienne A. Mandel, D-Montgomery; Pauline H. Menes, D-Prince George’s and Brian R. Moe, D-Prince George’s.
Fears about the impact of the ICC on legislative districts, communities and the environment are premature, said Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan.
“Not only are they premature,” he added, “every effort will be made to minimize impact on communities, as well as the environment.”
The ICC has been on the books for about 40 years. Environmental concerns, “not-in-my-back-yard” opponents of the highway and recently, state budget deficits have derailed the campaign to build the east-west road. Building it was one of Ehrlich’s campaign promises.
The ICC opponents are a minority, Flanagan said, and their opposition is longstanding.
Conroy said the new road would spur development in areas where it’s not wanted, but Flanagan countered that it will be consistent with local planning and bring job growth and development.
The ICC, Flanagan said, is “Montgomery County’s front door to Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland.” It would link the busy I-270 biotechnology corridor with other state institutions, including Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
“This is an incredibly important highway for everyone in the state of Maryland,” he said.
Conroy acknowledged the administration’s position, and said her like-minded colleagues are willing to compromise.
“I understand that the governor made a promise when he was trying to get elected. I understand that, that’s politics,” she said, “I just don’t want this bloody thing in my district.”