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Monday, September 29, 2014

Revisiting Old Freeway Attempts III:The Outer Beltway

As I end my series on revisiting old Freeway Attempts, I focus this entire post on just one proposed road; The Outer Beltway. Yes, believe it or not I-695 was only supposed to be the "Inner Beltway" with another loop that catches more outer ring suburbs to follow. Obviously the Outer Beltway was never completed in fact it was barely started. The only part of the Outer Beltway that exists today is Route 100 which is the southern spur of the un-built Interstate. I bet you didn't know that. Then of course if you look at a map you can see that in fact Route 100 does serve as an "outer" alternative to the current Beltway at least in the southern suburbs.

When Route 100 was built in phases starting in the 1970s until its completion in 1999, it was never meant to be an entire loop. In fact, the reason that Route 100 is located where it is is because the land had been reserved for the Outer Beltway and all the State wanted to build was a highway link between Route 29 in Ellicott City and Mountain Road in Pasadena to ease congestion in rapidly growing areas of Howard and Anne Arundel Counties. Route 100 did just that except that it opened the floodgates for more growth and sprawl which put congestion of roads back to where it was before Route 100 and then some. Given that Route 100 follows the southern right of way set aside for the Outer Beltway, hows about we extend it in both directions to complete the loop and give Baltimore two Beltways just the Eisenhower Era Interstate Planners had intended. 

The moniker of Route 100 will be dropped in place of the more fitting I-595. I realize this is the unsigned name of a stretch of Route 301/50 but I think our new Outer Beltway is more deserving of this noble title. We will start our journey at the eastern end of Route 100(now known as I-595) in Pasadena. Route 100/I-595 ends at Mountain Road currently but it will be extended as I-595 east of Mountain Road which will have a grade separated interchange as will all of its crossings. It will continue eastbound before crossing the bay between Bodkin Creek and Boyd Pond. This long bridge will do something unheard of; connect Pasadena in Anne Arundel County and Joppatowne in Harford County.  

This bridge, which gives all other bridges a run for their money, will end at Canal Creek in just south of Joppatowne. Extending Eastern Avenue to meet I-595 should be considered. There is some relatively unused land here which I-595 can use for interchanges with Route 40 (Pulaski Highway), Philadelphia Road, and I-95. It may be a good idea for I-95 and Philadelphia Road to share ramps to one another a la Park Heights Avenue and Stevenson Road given how closely parallel the roads run in between each other. After its interchange with I-95, I-595 will meet up with Route 1 (Belair Road) in between Perry Hall and Kingsville. After unceremonious interchanges with Harford Road, Glen Arm Road, and Manor Road, I-595 will cross Loch Raven Reservoir. After this, things begin to get interesting.

In Central and western Baltimore County, there are a few roads that already exist that I've noticed could be spurs for the Outer Beltway. After an interchange with Route 146 (Dulaney Valley Road) I-595 will follow what is now Old Bosley Road albeit much wider and up to Interstate Standards after which it will roughly follow Bosley Road and finally Warren Road. Warren Road was one of the Roads I had considered to be a spur for the Outer Beltway therefore I'm using it as such. Given the Residential nature of these Neighborhoods, there will be no interchanges until meeting Route 45 (York Road) The existing at-grade intersection will be upgraded to a clover leaf and Warren Road, currently a two to four lane road separated by a median strip will become I-595, a six lane divided Interstate. 

West of York Road I-595, the continue to follow the Warren Road Route. Here, it will be much easier to transform the road as it has more of a highway-esque layout. Warren Road ends with an interchange with I-83. I-595 will continue on west of I-83. It will meet Route 25 (Falls Road) and take the path of least resistance through the Greenspring Valley with interchanges at Greenpsring Avenue and Park Heights Avenue just below the Caves Valley Country Club.

I have setup I-595 to be level with Owings Mills Boulevard right where it veers north and follows the CSX lines. Why? Because I believe Owings Mills Boulevard between Winans Road and Stevenson University is the other "spur" of the Outer Beltway is. Owings Mills Boulevard has an interchange with I-795 here and its intersections with Reisterstown Road, Red Run Boulevard, Lakeside, Boulevard, Lyons Mill Road, and Winans Road will be upgraded to grade separated interchanges. Other smaller streets that meet up with Owings Mills Boulevard/I-595 will have bridges over or under them without access. The planned extension of Owings Mills Boulevard to Liberty Road will also be a grade separated interchange. 

Once I-595 has crossed Liberty Road, it will take curvy path of least resistance. That simply means that it will curve around to ensure the fewest number of homes have to be destroyed to construct it. Eventually it will cross into Howard County and will cross Route 99 at its current signalized intersection with Route 29. Route 29 between Route 100 and its northern terminus at Route 99 has served as a southwestern spur of the Outer Beltway (I-595) Route 29 between Route 99 and Route 100 will be re-dubbed I-595 and the traffic light intersection at Route 99 will be upgraded to a grade separated interchange. I-595, once it has completed its short stint using the current Route 29 will make an easterly turn back to the current Route 100. At this point the circle is complete.

Now that I have completed my entire series on un-built Freeways in Baltimore I bet I know what you're thinking; That was stupid. Yes, yes it was however we must revisit these failed attempts now and then to remind ourselves why they failed in the first place so history isn't doomed to repeat itself. Building anyone of these Freeways would be a waste of Tax Payer Money, have to unnecessarily relocate hundreds if not thousands, will ruin sought after park lands, will pollute the air as well as the water, and will do nothing to actually reduce roadway congestion.

By researching and writing this series, I was reminded time and time again that if Baltimore wants reduce congestion on its highways it needs to look in the future not the past. This series looked in the past and showed how detrimental it would be. Rather than investing in expanding our highways, Baltimore and surrounding areas must look at upgrading Mass Transit in particularly Rail Transit and shuttle buses that go to and from Rail Transit stops. Park & Ride lots at the end of transit lines are a must as is TOD so that Residents can get rid of their cars. The successful Cities in the Country have world class transit systems and if Baltimore wants to become one, it must get one of its own NOT build more highways.

1 comment:

Claire Carton said...

Wow thanks for the twist ending, I was getting my angry reply all ready in my head! (Ruining what little countryside is left in the metro, increased growth, look what happened after 795 and the mall, etc...) but even before you said this was the past plan, I was thinking "Greenspring and caves valleys, you have got to be kidding..." This outer beltway would run through some of our wealthiest areas... Wonder if that had anything to do with it being scrapped so early even back then?