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So far, ICC not easing congestion, planners say

by Margie Hyslop

Staff Writer

Traffic volume at 48 percent of 317 intersections sampled in the county is near, at or above maximum standards set for those intersections to function properly.

Ten intersections exceed the standard, with traffic volumes above the maximum during peak commuting hours, according to county transportation planners in a study released Monday.

In the “Mobility Assessment Report,” prepared annually by the Montgomery County Planning Department, analysts concluded that congestion levels are likely to “remain relatively stable during the next few years,” due in part to the fact that vehicle miles traveled in Montgomery County, like the country as a whole, have declined.

The worst intersection, based on its ability to handle its traffic, was Old Georgetown Road at Democracy Boulevard, followed by Darnestown Road at Riffle Ford Road and Shady Grove Road at Choke Cherry Lane. At the three intersections, traffic exceeds standards during evening rush hours.

Fourth through sixth worst were, respectively, Rockville Pike at Cedar Lane, Georgia Avenue at Norbeck Road, and Frederick Road (Md. 355) at Edmonston Drive, where congestion levels are higher than standards during both morning and evening rush hours.

They are followed by Great Seneca Highway at Muddy Branch Road (which fails standards at evening rush), Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road (which fails at both morning and evening rush), East Gude Drive at Crabbs Branch Road (which fails at morning rush) and New Hampshire Avenue at Randolph Road (which fails at evening rush).

The traffic counts were all taken on a typical midweek day during peak hours, but not all counts were done on the same day, said Eric Graye, a transportation planner for the county.

Of the 50 most congested intersections in Montgomery, 14 are inside the Capital Beltway, 28 are between the Beltway and the Intercounty Connector, and eight are beyond both the Beltway and the ICC in the less densely populated part of the county.

And the first seven-mile phase of the Intercounty Connector, between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue, does not appear to have eased congestion at intersections on nearby roads, planners found.

“The caveat to that is that some counts were done before the ICC opened, and the full ICC is not constructed yet but the effect has been negligible,” Graye said.

A second phase of the ICC, between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, is expected to open in late 2011 or early 2012.