The number of vehicles using the Intercounty Connector is meeting projections, but a spokesman for a motorists advocacy group says the state could be doing more to promote the toll road by touting how it could save drivers money.
About 20,000 to 30,000 drivers are taking the ICC daily, and the low-end figure is expected to grow to 25,000 by the summer, said John Sales, spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, which oversees the toll road.
ďState officials are saying itís where itís supposed to be, but if thatís the case motorists are not voting for it with their gas pedals because theyíre not using the road as much as they should be,Ē said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for the AAA of the Mid-Atlantic region.
ďItís a great concept, itís a beautiful road, but itís becoming the road less traveled.Ē
The toll rates discourage drivers from using the ICC because they think itís cheaper to take the Capital Beltway, Townsend said.
For a car traveling the ICC from Interstate 370 to I-95, the toll at peak travel times is $4.
But if drivers factored in the additional cost of gasoline for the longer drive around the Beltway — and from idling in stop-and-go traffic — they would be more likely to view the toll road as a reasonable alternative, Townsend said.
ďIf you use the ICC, you can save money because you get there quicker, and with gas at nearly $4 a gallon that makes a difference,Ē he said.
There are no plans to lower or increase the toll rates at this time, Sales said.
State officials estimate using the ICC to travel from Gaithersburg to the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport can cut the driving time in half.
The ICCís first segment from I-370 at Shady Grove Road to Georgia Avenue opened in February 2011, while the Georgia Avenue to I-95 phase opened in November 2011. The final section — from I-95 to U.S. Route 1 — is tentatively scheduled to open in spring 2014.
So far, the western segment is slightly above projected use, while the newer eastern segment is slightly below, Sales said.