An increasing number of drivers are finding the Intercounty Connector to be a major road of choice, according to new figures from the American Automobile Association.

AAA Mid-Atlantic said that traffic on the ICC rose 9 percent in 2017, as drivers took more than 32.6 million trips along the east-west highway. Toll revenue jumped to more than $64.3 million, an increase of 8.4 percent over 2016.

AAA said more than 90,000 drivers hop onto the ICC each day. It is the second-most used tolled facility in Maryland, behind only the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

The ICC opened in 2011, with a final portion opening in 2014. The road connects Route 1 in the east all the way to I-370 in the west, allowing motorists to avoid the Capital Beltway. AAA said the attraction to the ICC is simple: it’s the most direct route for many drivers. The MDTA noted that a trip from Laurel to Gaithersburg now takes 17 minutes when it once took 47.

“The ICC offers the shortest distance between two points for many commuters,” AAA said in a press release. “With each passing day, more and more ICC drivers are experiencing the joys of cutting their travel times in half, compared to the normal time it takes them to drive to their destinations via other local east-west routes.

The ICC collects tolls without the use of traditional toll plazas. Rather, drivers pass under electronic tolling gates at full speed, and are charged via the EZ-Pass transponder in their vehicle. Those drivers without EZ-Pass receive a bill in the mail, but AAA said that too many motorists are not paying those tolls. The Maryland Reporter said that there were 4.7 million toll violations on the ICC in 2016.

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