Maryland considers raising ICC speed limit to 60 mph

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Local,Transportation,Liz Essley

Maryland officials are considering raising the speed limit on the Intercounty Connector to 60 mph, up from 55 mph.

Advocates of the change have said 55 mph is an unreasonable limit on a straight, open highway like the ICC.

But state engineers won't make a final decision on the speed limit until they evaluate new ICC crash data. They expect to decide by the end of the year, officials said.

An initial engineering study considered raising the speed limit to 60 mph, the speed the road was designed for. The road opened with a lower speed limit because that's standard practice, said Maryland Transportation Authority spokesman John Sales.

"The physical geometry and safety characteristics of the roadway were the primary considerations in the engineering evaluation.The crash data will provide us with another set of information. The two, together, will be considered as the final determination is made," Sales said in an email.

The 55 mph speed limit has raised suspicions that the speed is low so that the state can make money off speeders. Police issued 1,153 citations and 1,713 warnings -- for a total of 2,866 tickets -- in fiscal year 2012, Sales said. That's worth at least $92,000 in revenue but represents a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of speeding tickets the state hands out each year.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend said he thinks a higher speed limit would be good for the road.

"Sixty seems to be a good compromise for those who have a need for speed and the more important issue, safety," Townsend said. "We think given the road's engineering -- it was built for those speeds -- and the topography of the road, and also the fact that it could accommodate those speeds safely, that is a good solution."

The $2.4 billion ICC opened its largest segment almost a year ago. About 30,000 drivers take the toll road every day, officials said. A final 1-mile segment stretching from Interstate 95 to U.S. Route 1 is expected to open in late 2013 or early 2014.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner