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Opinion: Raising ICC Speed Limit An 'Insane Idea'

A letter to the Patch about raising the speed limit on the Intercounty Connector and other state highways. This letter originally sent to Gaithersburg Patch.

The following is a letter from Fred Flaharty, a Montgomery County school bus driver, in regards to a late January story about the Intercounty Connector potentially having a 70 mph speed limit:

The bill that would raise the maximum speed limit on interstates and expressways statewide from 65 to 70 miles per hour is an incredibly BAD IDEA!....no...INSANE idea. As a regular daily driver of the ICC both in my personal car (twice per day) and as the driver of a Montgomery County school bus (4 trips per day) I protest in the strongest possible terms this proposed raising of the speed limit on the ICC. There are several important reasons for this the first of which is the road was never designed for faster speeds as are interstate highways. As is the case currently with the 55 mph ‘limit’ most vehicles exceed it by the supposed allowable 12 mph which means that those same drivers would be free to hit 77 or 82 mph respectively if the limit were raised to 65 or 70 mph. All this on a road designed for 55 mph. Driving 55-60 mph I witness countless cars, trucks and buses fly past me doing between 75 and 80. Merging or changing lanes would become more dangerous. This road was conceived and built under the guise of being environmentally designed and ecologically friendly. I ask you, is raising the speed limit environmentally friendly? I will tell you now that were I to have a crash on a road that the government knew wasn’t designed for high speed traffic I’d be in court with a lawsuit as soon as I was able. There are far more important issues to be addressed in government these days and I suggest the sponsors of this bill get to work rather then bowing to the requests of people that would gain a few short minutes on their drive as opposed to keeping the roads safe at their correctly posted and enforced speeds. 55 mph is a limit drivers should learn to live with, be safer with, be more in tune with the environment and stop whining about the 3 to 4 minutes they may spend on a complete trip on the road. 

 

Fred Flaharty, MNCPPC Planning Dept. (Retired) Montgomery County Transportation Dept. School Bus Operator

Olney, MD

Cyclone February 27, 2013 at 03:54 PM
I would like to see the proof that the ICC was "designed for 55mph". That road may have had an original 55 mph speed limit, but it sure looks like it was designed for even faster speeds. That said, 70 mph is too fast for that road, but 65 is palatable.
Duke Ganote February 27, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Whipping up a frothy lather about speed limits -- on the ICC or other freeways -- shows DANGEROUS IGNORANCE. Maryland's rural interstate fatality rate in 2009 was 0.06 -- FAR FAR lower that the all-road rate of 1.07 deaths per 100 million travel miles. Why? Simple physics! Traffic engineers very effectively adapt roads for higher speeds by eliminating opposing traffic, crossing traffic, and roadside hazards. Furthermore, "design speed" is a MINIMUM specification for features like curvature and sight visibility; the "as built" curves may FAR exceed minimum requirements. Bluntly, Mr Flaharty and his students are at more risk on every other part of his route than on the ICC-- and he's shockingly unaware of where the real road risks are!

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