MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — This weekend I took advantage of the free preview of the newest Maryland toll road, the Intercounty Connector (MD 200). The free preview continues through March 6.
I picked up the ICC near the current eastern end, MD 97 Georgia Avenue, north of Wheaton, though I could have done so at Norbeck Road, if not for my unfamiliarity with the area. The area around the interchange is still under construction and there was some motorist confusion. Once on the ICC, the road is smooth asphalt, built below grade for the most part. There is a lot of new landscapingwill look good in a few years after it grows in and the stone faces on the bridges make it an attractive highway overall. There is one cut-cover-tunnel along the ride the approximately 6 mile stretch of the ICC which was called Contract A during construction. There are not many exits though with a six mile gap between MD 97 (EXIT 9) and MD 355 (EXIT 3). At least on this stretch of the road the potential for massive new sprawl seems minimized by the lack of interchanges.
The western terminus just past EXIT 3 near the Shady Grove Metro station still has a lot of construction, so it is a little confusing for drivers. The big green signs will be sufficient once all the lane markings get get sorted out. There are not many traditional MD 200 trailblazers and no “pull-throughs” on the road though, something I assume will be corrected over time. The only references on the road to MD 200 are on some of the mileage signs. The control cities for the road aren’t cities either, in the westbound direction “TO I-270 (shield)” is used and in the eastbound direction “TO MD 97 (shield)” is used, but will be replaced by “TO I-95 (shield)” once the road is extended. Also, the signs are in the Clearview typeface that I do not care for much.
Having driven through Montgomery County a little bit, I have a better appreciation for what the road will do for commuters in that area, but I think this road will mostly provide relief at the local level, rather than the regional level. That may change after more of it opens, but ultimately, I don’t expect much improvement along the Capital Beltway (I-495) due to this highway.
Lastly, it really should have been marked as Interstate 370 instead of MD 200. It could have been made a non-chargeable interstate which basically means, that since it looks and acts like an interstate, it can be called one even though it is not funded like an interstate (best described about 75% down this California Highways page).