For Immediate Release: February 29, 2008
Greg Smith, 240-605-9238 cell
Dolores Milmoe, 301-652-9188 x 19
Stewart Schwartz, CSG, 703-599-6437 cell
Maryland Tolls to Double as Other Projects Suffer to Pay For Ineffective ICC
Annapolis, MD – Reports this week indicate that tolls on the Bay Bridge and Baltimore-area bridges and tunnels would have to be significantly increased, and in some cases doubled, to pay for Montgomery County’s Intercounty Connector.
In the midst of the current economic downturn and rising gas prices (heading to $4 a gallon), we shouldn’t be placing the burden on already strained Maryland families for a new and unnecessary highway. Our elected officials owe it to the taxpayers to use their money more wisely and make more sensible fiscal decisions.
“It’s time for Governor O’Malley and the legislature to reconsider the ICC. The Maryland Department of Transportation’s studies have already confirmed that this highway would not relieve congestion,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We simply cannot afford to spend more than $3 billion dollars and burden everyone in Maryland for a project that would take an enormous fiscal and environmental toll but would not work.”
The toll increases were hinted at in ICC financial documents but confirmed this week by the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services. The state’s own ICC study showed in 2006 that construction of the ICC would not relieve traffic congestion on I-95, I-270, or I-495. The tolls on the proposed highway are already projected to run more than $7 a day for drivers regardless of this increase of current tolls, but tolls on the ICC would cover less than one-fifth of the highway’s construction cost.
“We simply cannot afford this project. We cannot waste billions of tax dollars and increasingly scarce resources on a project that we know is an absolute lemon,” said Greg Smith of Community Research.
Governor O’Malley also proposes to take another $85 million out of Maryland’s General Fund for the ICC even as the General Assembly must search for new ways to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from non-transportation programs that, in some cases, have already suffered deep cuts. In addition, with federal transportation fund funding for Maryland falling far short of projections, the ICC would consume more and more of those revenues as well, forcing additional cuts in projects that Maryland truly needs.
“All Marylanders are being forced to pay for an ineffective, destructive highway to benefit Montgomery County, one of wealthiest jurisdictions in the state,” said Dolores Milmoe of the Audubon Naturalist Society.