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Guest John B. Townsend II


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Guest John B. Townsend II

Two lawsuits challenging the status, the future and the environmental impact of the Intercounty Connector (ICC) have finally come to naught in U.S. District Court. The opponents of the road, namely, the Audubon Naturalist Society, Environment Defense, and the Sierra Club, filed the lawsuits in the name of the environment.


Truth be told, the lawsuits were thinly veiled attempts to stop the construction of the ICC at any cost.


Contrary to the claims of the plaintiffs, todays court decision confirms the fact that the 18-mile highway connecting Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg and Interstate 95 in Laurel meets all federally required air quality standards, as proven in studies by both the Federal and Maryland State Highway Administrations.


The court acted with wisdom and ruled with all judiciousness. This is a major victory for motorists across Maryland and the Washington metro region. From the onset of planning, Maryland recognized the 18-mile ICC would run through diverse and environmentally sensitive locales.


That is why an unprecedented $370 million more than 15 percent of the Ices project cost has been designated for addressing environmental concerns.


What is more, the highway has been carefully designed so bridges over parks and streams are longer than usual to lessen any environmental impact.


The path of the roadway also will be lowered into the ground near existing communities to reduce noise.


As proof, some 63 ICC environmental initiatives will directly address public concerns caused by past development in the region that are not related to the highway.


To this end, a robust package of cutting-edge environmental mitigation measures (i.e. wetlands, forestation, stream protection, etc.) will fully compensate for unavoidable impacts of the highway.


Todays long awaited ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams marks an important chapter in transportation history and mobility in Maryland and the Washington metro area.


At long last, the ICC, which will stretch for 18 critical miles, is now destined to become the first major road to be built in a decade or more in this region. Both the road and, in several senses, todays ruling are five decades overdue.

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