On Dec. 17, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) announced the approved range of tolls for the Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200 after review of comments received during a 60-day public comment period. The ICC/MD 200 will be Maryland’s first all-electronic toll facility when its first segment opens in 2010.
“We thank the nearly 400 citizens who offered their comments via web feedback, email, letter or at a public hearing,” said Transportation Secretary and MDTA Chairman Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. “Based on public comments received between Sept. 23 and Nov. 23, 2009, we have modified the parameters from those originally proposed, with the addition of a new overnight pricing period and a lower minimum toll. We feel this modification allows us to effectively manage congestion and meet our fiscal responsibility to pay the highway’s construction and operating costs.”
The approved tolling parameters set the mileage-rate range, pricing periods, rounding rule and minimum toll for the ICC/MD 200. To manage congestion, tolls will vary on the ICC: higher tolls during peak-travel times, like commuter periods, and reduced tolls when traffic volumes are lower. The ICC’s variable tolling will deliver reliable travel times in the second most congested region in the United State.
The toll ranges for two-axle vehicles vary from $0.25 to $0.35 during weekday peak-travel periods (6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.) excluding federal holidays, and $0.20 to $0.30 during off-peak periods. These are the same toll rate ranges that were proposed in September. New to the plan is an overnight pricing period from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. that would range from $.10 to $.30 per mile. The addition of this overnight pricing period allows MDTA to provide a lower toll rate in response to public comment, while meeting its financial obligations with little impact to revenue projections.
“Considering inflation since 2004, the approved toll-rate ranges are comparable to those used for discussion during the National Environmental Policy (NEPA) study,” said MDTA Executive Secretary Ronald L. Freeland. “We will also consider options
for a promotional period that could provide ICC drivers without E-ZPass® the opportunity to apply Notice of Toll Due fees toward purchase of an E-ZPass transponder.”
The toll per trip will be rounded up to the nearest nickel. The minimum toll will be two miles multiplied by the applicable mileage rate, or $.40, whichever is greater. The plan proposed originally had set the minimum toll at three miles. In addition, a new electronic vehicle class for motorcycles will be established on the ICC. All motorcycles will be subject to two-axle rates, regardless of the number of axles,
including side cars and trailers.
Most trips made on the ICC will be well short of its full 18 miles. More than 60% of ICC trips are projected to be less than six miles, and 75% of trips will be less than 10 miles. The average trip is anticipated to be 6.6 miles and will cost drivers of passenger vehicles between $1.65 and $2.35 traveling during peak hours; between $1.35 and $2 during off-peak times; and between $0.70 and $2 overnight.
Actual toll rates will be set by the Executive Secretary within the approved parameters before the first segment opens. A specific timeframe has not been identified for setting the rates. Toll rates will be periodically adjusted within the approved rate range to manage travel demand, help reduce congestion and account for revenue needs. MDTA will provide at least 10 days notice of any change to the toll schedule that is within the approved tolling parameters. Any change to the rate range would require a formal process involving a 60-day public comment period.
The figure to the right displays the distribution of public comments as they pertain to the proposed rate ranges. The most common suggestions include discounts for local residents, post-usage discounts for commercial vehicles, reduced E-ZPass fees, providing a lower introductory toll rate and a daily maximum toll.
The ICC will be the first cashless toll facility in Maryland using all electronic tolling technology, where tolls are paid at highway speeds using
E-ZPass via overhead gantries. Traveling the roadway without a valid E-ZPass will result in a Notice of Toll Due being sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. The notice will include the charge for the toll, plus a $3 Notice of Toll Due fee for each transaction. This policy is in effect at the MDTA’s other toll facilities.
Project limits of the 18-mile roadway link I-270/I-370 in Montgomery County and the I-95/US 1 business corridor in Prince George’s County. The first segment of the ICC/MD 200, between I-370 and MD 97 (5.65 miles), is expected to open in fall 2010. The roadway from MD 97 to I-95 is expected to open in late 2011/early 2012. Once open, the ICC will improve mobility and connectivity for Marylanders, whether they drive the roadway or continue to use existing local roads where congestion will be reduced as more motorists choose to use the ICC. The ICC also will enhance transit by providing access to Metrorail, MARC, local transit services, or MTAs Commuter Bus Service which will operate on the facility.
The State Highway Administration (SHA) is managing ICC construction. Once construction is complete, the MDTA, which is providing approximately half of the ICC’s funding, will operate and maintain the ICC as Maryland’s eighth toll facility.
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is an independent State agency that finances, owns and operates the State’s seven toll facilities. The MDTA’s eight Members, appointed by the Governor with consent of the State Senate, serve as the agency’s policy-setting and governing body. Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation serves as MDTA Chairman.