The Intercounty Connector: Financial, Economic, and Regional Development Costs and Choices
Governor Martin O’Malley will soon decide on whether to proceed with financing and letting bids for the construction of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), a critical decision for the State of Maryland and its many communities, especially Baltimore City. Since the state has expended only a small fraction of the estimated $.446 billion cost to build this proposed 8-mile, six-lane highway, Governor O’Malley has the opportunity to reexamine this massive public works commitment before rendering a final decision, aided by the findings of this report and other information.
It is certain that building the ICC will force Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly to raise state transportation taxes sooner and more substantially if other state transportation priorities are to be funded. For the governor specifically, a decision to advance the ICC will constrain his ability to move forward on other campaign pledges (especially his commitments to public transit investment), bind him to financial and policy commitments of the outgoing administration, and sharply define his transportation, environmental, and economic development legacy.
Project delays and pending lawsuits give the new governor an opportunity to reexamine this project’s many impacts to determine if the ICC—at this time—is the best use of scarce state resources when compared to other urgent needs, including a multi-year structural deficit of more than $4 billion and a growing backlog of unfunded transportation projects. The state’s transportation needs, specifically, have intensified not only because of the proposed plan to build the ICC but because of slow growth in state transportation revenues and rising construction and maintenance costs.
This report, for its part, highlights the key financial, fiscal, and regional economic development issues and considerations about the project that heretofore have not been clearly articulated. Key findings in the section
on Regional Growth and Economic Development are supported by appendices to this report.