Sunday, December 20, 2009

Phil Andrews Asks Governor to Lower ICC Tolls

Council Member Phil Andrews has written Governor Martin O'Malley to ask him to lower the tolls planned for the ICC. Andrews has been an ICC opponent throughout his political career and protested ICC tolls back in 2005, when they were to be set at 17 cents per mile at peak hours. Now they are planned for 25-35 cents. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) does not report directly to the Governor, but he does appoint its nine-member board, which his chaired by the Secretary of Transportation, to three year staggered terms. Following is the Council Member's letter.

December 18, 2009

Honorable Martin O’Malley
Governor, State of Maryland
Annapolis MD 21401

Dear Governor O’Malley,

Yesterday, the Maryland Transportation Authority, whose members you appointed, approved unaffordably high tolls for the Inter-County Connector (ICC). These tolls will cost $3,000 per year for ICC commuters who travel daily end-to-end during peak hours. For many workers who earn $50,000 per year, that will be six percent of their pre-tax salary. Even if the economy were healthy, six percent of someone’s salary is too much to ask.

I am writing to request that you use the full power of your office to reverse this decision. If unchanged, the high tolls will prohibit drivers from using the road, thereby ensuring that the $3 billion ICC fails to take significant traffic off local roads.

During the 2002 election, the ICC was sold to the public as the best way to provide widespread traffic relief. No one mentioned high tolls that make the road unaffordable to many people with limited incomes. I don’t recall you mentioning them in your 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Asking the public to finance a road that many can’t afford to use amounts to a “bait and switch.”

You alone among state officials had the power to stop the ICC, and you have been noticeably silent on the now-approved ICC tolls. Whether the ICC becomes an historic boondoggle because of chronic under use is up to you. Whether the ICC becomes the embodiment of regressive public policy is up to you. The ICC will be your legacy.

Please apprise me of your views on the approved ICC tolls and what you intend to do if you disagree with the high tolls approved by the Maryland Transportation Authority.


Phil Andrews
Montgomery County Council