U.S. Department of Transportation has brought a controversial Washington,
DC, area highway plan a step closer to reality.
to local media reports, the department has approved an expedited
environmental review for the Intercounty Connector, an 18-mile,
east-west road in Montgomery County, MD, that would link Interstates
270 and 95, running from Rockville east to Laurel. The highway,
which officials estimate will cost roughly $1.3 billion, was twice
rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency. The route would
carry traffic through natural land saved from development rather
than through developed areas, requiring removal of homes and businesses,
as some alternative routes would.
chief objections to the highway have come from environmental groups
and their supporters, who claim it will case pollution of streams
and possibly harm the local trout population.
a December letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y.
Mineta quoted by The Washington Post, Montgomery Council
member Philip Andrews of Rockville said the road would cause too
much environmental harm for it to be the subject of an expedited
the same day that Andrews’ letter was sent, 13 environmental groups
also sent a letter to Mineta, saying President Bush's executive
order calling for streamlined environmental reviews was not intended
for such a controversial proposal, The Post reported.
despite those objections, the new administration in Maryland is
giving clear signals it intends to move forward.The Baltimore
Sun reported Jan. 27 that officials working for Maryland Gov.
Robert Ehrlich indicated they were determined to build the highway.
highway has been under discussion for four decades. It is one of
13 projects targeted for streamlined environmental reviews under
an order from President Bush designed to save money and time. The
results of the expedited review will be sent to the federal government
once it is completed; the feds must approve the project at that
point before construction can begin.