The first section of the Intercounty Connector finally is scheduled to open on Feb. 22, and the public will be able to drive the toll road -- for free.
The first seven-mile segment of the ICC will connect I-370 at Shady Grove and Route 97 (Georgia Avenue) in Rockville/Olney. The free trial will last through March 6.
"The test-drive period will give motorists an opportunity to become familiar with the highway’s all-electronic tolling and variable pricing, while allowing us to test the tolling equipment under actual traffic conditions," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said.
ICC officials project that trip times could be reduced by up to 70 percent when using the ICC compared to local roads.
Of course, that savings in time will cost you money.
The ICC will use E-ZPass to manage tolls. Higher tolls will be charged during peak-travel times (6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday) and reduced tolls will be charged when traffic volumes are lower.
There will be no toll booths or cash toll collection on the ICC. If you don't have an E-ZPass, a bill will be sent to you along with a $3 service charge -- per trip. That service charge will begin April 6.
So what will it cost to drive the first tolled segment? Passenger vehicles and light trucks will pay $1.45 during peak hours, $1.15 during off-peak times (5-6 a.m., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; and 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat.-Sun.) and 60 cents overnight (11 p.m.-5 a.m. daily).