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Crews put finishing touches on ICC for next week's debut | Transportation

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Crews put finishing touches on ICC for next week's debut
Crews put finishing touches on ICC for next week's debut

The Washington Examiner is reporting that road crews will be working steadily in the next week on the final touches of the InterCounty Connector, posting the final 55 mph speed limit signs, securing guardrails and sealing fence gaps.

After decades in the making, the first leg of the $2.5 billion roadway is finally scheduled to open to drivers at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

When viewed from Google's satellite images, the road remains a gash of dirt across Montgomery County. But on the ground, it is more than 5.6 miles of fresh asphalt weaving between housing developments, over streams and under existing roads. It is lined by sound barriers, earth-tone guardrails, and hundreds of thousands of newly planted shrubs and saplings in an effort to blend in and protect the surrounding environment.

The first stretch will let drivers cruise from Interstate 370 in Shady Grove to Georgia Avenue in Olney.

Another 13 miles of roadway, still under construction, extend into Prince George's County. That section won't be finished until later this year or early 2012.

Eventually, planners hope to build feeder roads from Interstate 95 and extend the road about a mile to connect to U.S. Route 1.

Some 21,000 vehicles per day are expected to drive along the first segment, said Maryland Transportation Authority Acting Executive Secretary Harold Bartlett. But that will increase to an estimated 55,000 vehicles each day once the rest of the roadway opens, he said, as the full road will be more attractive to drivers.

The road gives nondrivers another option: Commuter buses. The state has purchased 18 buses to run along two lines starting in Gaithersburg. One will deliver riders to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the other will stop at the National Security Agency and Fort Meade for a one-way fare of $5. Spokesman Terry Owens said the state eventually will add more lines.

The hope is that the highway will speed commuters to BWI and ease some of the pain from the Base Realignment and Closure process, which will be sending some 11,000 additional workers to Fort Meade in nearby Anne Arundel County.