Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the ribbon-cutting for the first segment of MD-200, better known in Maryland as the Intercounty Connector. Now, the sky may have been cloudy, but--because the state was willing to dream big and build big--the future of transportation in Maryland sure looked bright.
And that's because this new stretch of highway truly is a connector. It will connect employees with jobs and students with schools. It will connect Montgomery County with Prince George's County and with the city of Baltimore. It will connect I-270 and I-370 with I-95.
Cutting the ribbon, from left to right, are Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Gov. Martin O'Malley, me, Maryland Transportation Sec. Beverley Swaim-Staley, Montgomery Cty Executive Ike Leggett, Prince George's Cty Executive Rushern Baker, State Senator Jennie Forehand, and Del. Kumar Barve
But most importantly, it will connect people. The ICC will allow commuters to save nearly 20 minutes each way, giving them back hours of time with their loved ones. And for every commuter who chooses the ICC there will be one less vehicle on another road, thereby helping ease congestion for commuters throughout the region.
The ICC was also built with the best environmental stewardship in mind. This was obvious to me as Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and I rode to the ceremony in an all-electric Chevy Volt. The road features underpasses instead of overpasses to cut down on noise, and it is landscaped more like a parkway than a highway.
You see, even as we develop other ways of getting around, 21st century transportation projects will continue to feature roadways prominently. So we owe it to the next generation of Americans to build those roadways as safely and sensibly as possible. And the Department of Transportation will continue to partner with states like Maryland and Governors like Martin O'Malley to do just that.
We know it will give people in northwestern Montgomery County access to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and to the city of Baltimore. It will allow residents of Prince George's County better access to the high-tech jobs along I-270, and residents of Montgomery County better access to the high-tech jobs in Greenbelt. It will allow residents in Gaithersburg better access to the University of Maryland in College Park and residents in Prince George's better access to the new higher education opportunities in Shady Grove.
And, as everyone who spoke yesterday repeated, this road is only one part of a multi-tiered regional transportation plan that includes the Corridor Cities Transitway, Purple Line light rail, transit-oriented development, sustainable growth, and livable communities.
As Maryland's Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown, said, "This day is bigger than a road; it's about a plan. It's about creating jobs and opportunities for businesses. It's about becoming more competitive."