The major remaining segment of the InterCounty Connector opens today in Maryland, connecting Gaithersburg to Laurel via highway. The first segment opened in February, but the complete I-270 to I-95 trip wasn’t yet possible until today.
The event marks a good occasion to consider the long debated outer beltway, and whether it really died in the 1980s when it was officially rejected.
Attached is a map showing major roads in the DC region, with regional highways that serve the same function as as outer beltway highlighted. Light red roads are true Interstate-quality highways, while dark red roads may have occasional traffic lights in place of much more expensive interchanges. Both are regional expressways, with infrequent crossings and no (or extremely few) directly fronting buildings.
As you can see, there are not many gaps remaining in the loop. The idea of an outer beltway as an official unified regional facility may have died decades ago, but it is clearly living on, and being advanced, in the form of local projects in each jurisdiction.
Click the map for a larger version.