It was a roadway showdown of sorts -- to mark the opening of the next section of the Inter County Connector.
Residents and officials from local regional transportation groups challenged each other to drive the different routes between Gaithersburg and Laurel, both using the new highway and not using it.
The section that opened today will allow commuters to drive quickly from I-370 in Montgomery County to I-95 in Prince George's County. All that remains to be built of the 18.2-mile highway is a small stretch connecting I-95 to Route 1. That section is set to begin construction later this year or early next year.
Members of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance created a challenge to see who could reach the ICC’s end point near West Laurel via the local roads, I-270/I-95, and the ICC. The race challenge started in Gaithersburg during rush hour and concluded at the in West Laurel.
As expected, out of the dozen or so teams participating, those who took the ICC were able to make the quickest commutes with an average of less than 30 minutes.
“I suspect a large number of cars went I-370/Shady Grove,” said Jerry Garson, who participated in the challenge, sticking to local roads and spending 45 minutes getting to the finish line.“
Garson said he noticed fewer cars traveling along local roads today, some of which bisect the ICC. He said he attributed it to the coming holiday and the opening of the new highway.
Rich Parsons, president of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, took the ICC in the challenge and made it to Laurel in less than half an hour. He said he traveled at about 45.6 miles per hour.
“This road was needed,” he said. “I traveled across Montgomery County in 29 minutes--I’ve never done that before.”
Parsons said the ICC is crucial to linking the BWI corridor to the I-270 corridor. The highway had been on the books for more than 50 years, even while growth and development continued to overwhelm roadways along I-270 and I-495.
Edgar Gonzalez, deputy director of transportation for Montgomery County, said he knew all too well about traveling East-West along the I-270 and the Capital Beltway.
His challenge time clocked in at 47 minutes, one of the longest. He took the beltway to the finish line.
“Traffic was standing still,” he said.