- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Maryland Republican Party Executive Director Eric Sutton yesterday criticized Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s stance against bringing major transportation improvements to Montgomery County, calling his opposition “insensitive” toward motorists.

Mr. Sutton said the estimated $1.7 billion slated to be spent by the state on the Intercounty Connector (ICC) — which would link Interstates 95 and 270 — is worth the cost.

“O’Malley’s position clearly indicates he could care less about the horrendous D.C. traffic congestion that shortens the time motorists get to spend with their family,” Mr. Sutton said of the Democrat. “Maybe he thought if D.C. traffic got bad enough, Baltimore residents and business owners would stop leaving the city under his failing administration.”

Mr. Sutton said Mr. O’Malley’s opposition to the ICC is politically motivated.

“Buying O’Malley’s reason for opposing the ICC is like buying back the lemon you sold a used-car dealer four years ago,” he said. “Mayor O’Malley should take a trip to D.C. in rush-hour traffic and spend each hour it takes to travel five miles to rethink his position.”

Mr. O’Malley has said he supports the ICC but cannot support dedicating a revenue source. He also said the ICC likely would overshadow Baltimore’s plans for a regional rail system and the proposed maglev train connecting Baltimore and Washington.

Mr. O’Malley said before a transportation panel last month that he cannot allow state transportation policy to “drift in a piecemeal and politically motivated manner.”

Mr. O’Malley also expressed concern about a proposed gasoline surtax to fund the project.

Neither Mr. O’Malley nor Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a fellow Democrat who also has been critical of aspects of the program, could be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. O’Malley’s spokesman, Rick Ambbruzzese, said Mr. Sutton should get “his facts straight.”

“The mayor does support the ICC and the proposed method of paying for it,” Mr. Ambbruzzese said, “but he does think that the governor’s administration should have a transportation policy that goes beyond one road.”

Mr. Duncan’s spokesman said the county executive “remains a strong supporter of the project.”

Mr. Duncan, who has fought tirelessly for state and federal money for the ICC, has been said to be upset because the governor blocked a proposal to put a surcharge on vehicle registrations that would have raised $1 billion for the ICC.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, also has reiterated his support for the road.

“The ICC is priority number one for my administration,” he said. “I am for the ICC, and we are building it. That is the end of the story.”

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