Saturday, January 03, 2015

Maryland's Transportation To Do List Part 2

Recently I posted about Maryland's public transportation to-do list, where I highlighted current transportation options, plans for the future, and the faults with some of those projects.  Now I want to focus on the roads.

Maryland is known for its gridlocks and its maze of ramps to nowhere.  Interstate 70 ends in a park and ride.  There are multiple ramps to nowhere along I-95 through Baltimore.  As I've said before, it seems as if the transportation model in Maryland was designed by a politician.

As a tax-paying citizen of Carroll County in good standing, I'll start there.  Everyone knows that Route 32 south of Sykesville is a mess.  Yes I realize that this is Howard County.  And yes I realize that the state is now working to widen some parts of this road.  However, we cannot deny the fact that thousands of vehicles are commuting on this road each day to Baltimore, Howard County, and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.  The current Route 32 cannot effectively handle the volume during peak hours.  Route 32 should be a 4 lane highway from Eldersburg to at least I-70.  I'm not talking about divided medians and cloverleafs or fly-over ramps.  But at a minimum it needs shoulders and a center turn lane.

Route 140 from Baltimore County to Finksburg is another bottleneck.  It seems like at least once per week there is a deadly accident at the Baltimore County \ Carroll County line.  This area needs to have an expanded bridge with highway dividers.  Again, I know the state is working on this, but I'm not sure to what their plan is.

Route 140 in Owings Mills.  Especially at the intersections of Owings Mills Boulevard and Painter's Mill Road - this is already a nightmare.  When they complete the Wegman's at Foundry Row, this will be even worse!  I'm not sure how they could accomplish this without destroying the local businesses, but there needs to be an overpass at that intersection.

I-70 intersection with I-695 Baltimore Beltway.  I don't think this junction has changed since it was built.  I'm not sure when it was built, but I suspect it was in the 1960's.  The I-95 eastern junction with I-695 was recently restructured from a ribbon interchange to fly-over ramps.  I think the I-70 junction needs to do the same.  You can run into traffic at this interchange at 10pm at night.  It's crazy!

For the past 20 years or so, the state of Maryland has been expanding Route 50 to be a highway all the way to Ocean City.  It seems as if they are done, but it begs the question - aren't they going to do soething with Easton and Cambridge?  We no longer have to go through Vienna and Salisbury, but Easton is a freakin' mess.  There is an Easton Expressway, but that doesn't seem to shave any time off of the commute.  Cambridge generally moves okay, but you'd think the state would have made a route around the town rather than expanding the existing route through the town.

In Southern Maryland, a huge bottleneck is the Route 301 bridge over the Potomac River.  The bridge is known as the Harry Nice Bridge.  There is a plan in place for its replacement, but I can't seem to find when it's going to be done.  The current bridge is only 1 lane in each direction, whereas the approaching roads from either direction are four lanes.  This means that both ends of the bridge have a 2-1 lane merge, which is an excellent source for traffic bottlenecks.  Once the new bridge is completed, the old bridge, which was opened in 1940, will be removed.  Hopefully they'll blow it up with a big bomb.

I-68 though Cumberland.  If you've traveled through Western Maryland, you know it gets weird when you get to Cumberland.  Most of I-68 is wide-expansive highways with plentiful shoulders with gentle to rugged hill climbs.  Then you get to Cumberland.  The speed limit slows to like 40 mph, there are no shoulders, and the on-ramps have about 8 feet for mergers.  And these are the problems in the summer.  Add in Allegheny County's plentiful winter weather, and the highway becomes a veritable ice capades demolition derby.  Cumberland's natural layout doesn't provide much flexibility for changing the interstate traffic pattern, but I think an improved highway network around the town will also help improve their economic state.

On the Baltimore Beltway, or officially the McKeldin Beltway, from Pikesville through Towson, there are shoulders that are 2 lanes wide.  This is also where the highway is 4-lanes wide, but gridlocked for miles every day during rush hour.  Is it time to make half of that shoulder space lane #5?

I haven't traveled the entire state, but I've seen a lot of it, and I think these are some of the better improvements that can be made.  What do you think should change?

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