The state of Maryland, Prince George’s County and developers at Konterra Town Center have entered into an agreement to finish the last section of the Intercounty Connector (ICC). The agreement was four years in the making as the state and county avoided imminent domain proceedings with Konterra.

“This innovative agreement benefits the public sector, the private sector, and most importantly, the citizens of Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland by creating jobs and fueling economic progress in this area,” Gov. O’Malley said at a press conference announcing the partnership. “We are standing here today because all three parties involved were willing to think outside the box and look at the long-term potential for job growth and economic activity in northern Prince George’s County.”

The project will also bring major improvements to Interstate 95, including constructing an interchange with Contee Road in Laurel as well as creating a new roadway to be known as Virginia Manor Road Extended, which will connect the ICC/Virginia Manor Road interchange with the new I-95/Contee Road interchange.

While this may not eliminate traffic in that area of the county, it will remove the strain on local roads, according to the State Highway Administration (SHA).

“The concept was to take the traffic off those local roads and steer it away from impacting those roads,” said SHA spokeswoman Sandra Dobson. “We can’t say that the ICC-Konterra will alleviate congestion, but it will certainly provide a more direct route through the region than going on local roads.”

The $2.56 billion ICC, open for a little over two months, is an east-west toll road connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has lauded the highway, as he believes it could become a selling point in attracting businesses and residents to the county.

“The opening of the ICC is another historic achievement that physically links the State’s two largest counties,” Baker said in a statement. “The ICC will help enhance the range of transportation options for our residents and fosters a bold new direction in inter-county cooperation and collaboration in transportation policy.”

Not everyone is as pleased with the roadway’s existence, however. Environment Maryland has opposed the project since its inception. The environmental advocacy agency said it would not alleviate traffic and would create more congestion in the Washington metropolitan area.

However, the state says the project is the greenest highway in state history with over $370 million of the project’s funding going directly to limiting its environmental impact.

Konterra is slated to be a 2,200-acre, mixed-use development. Once completed, the development is slated to bring in 30,000 jobs and $95 million in state taxes annually – a third of which will go to Prince George’s.

In addition to being accessible by the ICC, it will also be serviced by several state bus routes and a MARC train line.

Development of Konterra is expected to begin in 2012.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO