Photo by Dougtone on Flickr.

At a time when Maryland, the District, and Virginia are trying to coax people to drive less, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA), which oversees toll roads, has embarked on a campaign encouraging people to drive more. Specifically, they want more people to drive the Intercounty Connector (ICC).

Maryland is not getting its money’s worth from the $2.5 billion highway despite the high tolls: 70 cents to travel one exit, and $4 to travel the whole length one way. A complete round trip is $8. People cite high tolls, few exits, low demand, and the 55 mph speed limit as reasons to not drive the ICC.

The state agency is on the stump to encourage drivers to use the new toll road. Last Sunday, MdTA had a booth at the Bethesda Farmer’s Market. Workers handed out literature showing how to sign up for E-ZPass, without which drivers on the ICC face an additional charge.

MdTA’s booth at the Bethesda Farmer’s Market. Photos by Ronit Dancis.

Promoting the ICC seems a strange use of state money when Maryland’s governor has set a state goal of doubling transit use by 2020. An MdTA spokesperson claimed that this is standard outreach aimed at encouraging use of the electronic E-ZPass system to pay tolls. But the focus of the agency’s signage was the ICC itself, not the electronic pay system.

If the ICC were an isolated road, encouraging more people to use it might not be a problem. Yet drivers on the ICC access it from other crowded roads, such as I-270, Route 29 and I-95. These roads need fewer drivers, not more.

Are any readers aware of a campaign anywhere in the world that is trying to make people drive more?

Tagged: icc, maryland, mdta, roads

Tracey Johnstone is a recovering political pollster who is completing a dissertation on Russian economic reform. She is also secretary of the Action Committee for Transit. She has lived in downtown Bethesda since 1996, and previously lived in Toronto, Moscow, and Alexandria (before the Metro).