ICC: The idea has gone from bad to worse

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

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Four letters

Gov. Robert Ehrlich says Intercounty Connector opponents have had 56 years to talk. But has he taken a moment to listen?

The ICC was a bad idea 56 years ago and is a worse idea now. Fifty-six years ago, America was already importing 10 percent of the oil we used. Indeed, American oil discoveries had peaked back in the 1930s. It made no sense to build a form of transportation that ran on oil when we could no longer supply all the oil we needed.

The years since have amplified that message. Nuclear power too cheap to meter didn’t pan out. In 1964, world oil discoveries peaked. In 1970, American oil production peaked and entered its inevitable decline. In the early 1980s, world oil discoveries fell behind world oil consumption. By 2005, we were importing 65 percent of the oil we used, and the world was burning five barrels of oil for every one that we discovered.

The ICC would be a massive subsidy to long-distance car commuting, support for one more round of sprawl before depletion causes our house of cards economy to collapse. The ICC would steal the money needed to fund our transition to a post-oil economy.

Where is the money we need to build the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway? Frittered away on the ICC.

The stakes are high and we are moving in the wrong direction.

Carl Henn, Rockville

I am adding my voice to what I hope is the growing number of residents in the Washington area who oppose the Intercounty Connector toll road and who support the Purple Line as an alternative.

I know the job of departments of transportation in the U.S. and local governments is to build roads; and when the area needed a good road system, the DOT was of great value. However, we have gone beyond that time and moved to a time when the Washington area sorely needs more Metro rail routes.

There are many reasons not to create the ICC: destruction of land, loss of animal habitat, environmental damage, costs, to name a few. However, we in the area and everyone in government simply must accept that additional roads is not the solution to the traffic problem, and that no matter how many new roads are built, we will always have congestion and traffic gridlock.

There will come a day when the cost of gasoline makes commutes prohibitive, when fewer people drive and pollution becomes such a grave problem that a rail system is the only answer.

Due to the amount of time it takes to plan and build a rail route, we should begin now, and have it available for everyone in a few years. It is the responsibility of each citizen to ensure that this happens.

I realize that the ICC is in Maryland, but all local officials need to be involved and need to show their support of this critical issue.

Dee Smith, Falls Church, Va.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich celebrated the recent federal approval of the Intercounty Connector by planting six cherry trees to symbolize the environmentally benign features of the ICC design. Did anyone miss the irony?

Measure those six trees against the ICC’s clear-cutting, bulldozing, and paving over of 18 miles by 100 yards wide (not to mention six interchanges), killing every living thing that cannot escape on its own. And the sprawl development (somehow turned into ‘‘jobs”) that will follow is a major reason for the governor’s pleasure, since traffic congestion will not really be mitigated.

The announcement came just as hurricane season has begun. We most certainly have our own $3 billion hurricane of concrete, thanks to the developers and road contractors who pushed this atrocity on the county.

S. Gregory Price, Takoma Park

The Gazette, too, deserves to pay with its soul for its compromised coverage on the long route to federal approval for the Intercounty Connector. Had The Gazette along the way informed its readers of the truth — that ICC traffic studies make clear that the ICC will not improve commuter congestion on most area roads — the purported justification for the highway would have lost its appeal and become a political liability.

Since The Gazette and other highway proponents have duped thousands of area residents into believing that their commutes will ease, perhaps it is time to acknowledge, as the Washington Post recently editorialized, that the ICC will have little effect on traffic congestion but that its hope lies in the economic opportunities that it will provide.

Aha! The truth is slowly emerging. And now that federal approval has been obtained for a $3 billion economic opportunity that will destroy well-loved homes and lifestyles, forests and streams, and forever alter communities along its path, what do you suggest we do about the traffic?

Leslie Cronin, Olney