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ICC to go forward despite funding delay

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Gov. Martin O?Malley?s administration Wednesday asked Senate committee members for a leap of faith.

During a hearing on the administration?s proposal to delay the next payment toward the InterCounty Connector, transportation secretary John Porcari assured lawmakers that construction of the $2.4 billion, 18-mile roadway connecting I-270 in Montgomery County and I-95 in Prince George?s County would not endure delays.

"The ICC remains on schedule," Porcari said. "This will have no impact on construction or our commitment to pay back the [$264.9] million by 2010 is still on track."

Citing the state?s looming budget shortfall, O?Malley has proposed deferring by at least a year ? possibly until fiscal year 2010 ? a $53 million payment from the state?s general fund to the Maryland Transportation Authority for the construction of the ICC. Critics worried the delay in funding would only push back the completion date, and wondered if the state would have the money to cover the back payment in the future.

Porcari and state Budget Secretary Eloise Foster said the state continues its preparations to sell bonds in late spring or early summer this year. A mix of state bonds backed by tolls collected on the ICC and federal transportation bonds will fund it.

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