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Intercounty Connector Gets Higher Speed Limit

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- Maryland's Intercounty Connector is getting a speed lift. The State Transportation Authority has begun changing roadway signs to officially increase the posted speed limit on the ICC from 55 to 60 miles per hour.

Tim Williams explains why.

The process has been slow going to raise the speed limit on Maryland's Intercounty Connector, but the speeds and new signs are finally going up.

"We anticipate raising the speed limit on the ICC from 55 miles an hour to 60 miles an hour," said MdTA Executive Secretary Harold Bartlett.

The Maryland Transportation Authority says its decision is based on an extensive engineering and crash analysis. Traffic engineers have examined crashes for the ICC's first year of operations between interstates 270 and 95. The analysis helped the MdTA confirm that the speed limit may be safely raised to 60 mph--though the benefits may seem small.

"It's about a 16-mile stretch of highway going from I-370 to I-95 and if you do the math on that, it's about a minute and a half savings," Bartlett said. "There's a sense on the highway that because it's wide open and it's at this point not particularly congested, 55 actually seems slow to customers, so I think they'll appreciate the increase in speed."

State leaders believe it will be a critical bridge between development in Montgomery County and Baltimore, but so far, the ICC has had a tough road filled with controversy.

"Tolls are being raised across the system, including the bridges and tunnels in Baltimore, partly to pay for the Intercounty Connector. Now they're gonna have the nerve to come back to Annapolis and ask for a gas tax increase," said protester Greg Smith.

Add to that, nearly 7,000 speeding tickets have been issued to drivers on the ICC since in opened in November 2011.

"One mile over the speed limit, you are still subject to get a speeding ticket," Bartlett said. "So our position is 60 miles per hour is in fact the speed limit for the highway."

The bottom line: speed up but not too much.

For a link to the MdTA's speed study, click here.

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