Highway projects to ease gridlock on Beltway near three Towson exits Cloverleaf to be removed, bridge will be replaced

January 26, 1998|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Goodbye, cloverleaf. Hello, traffic flow.

That's the hope of state transportation officials who have come up with redesigns for three key Towson exits off Interstate 695 to ease daily gridlock from more than 150,000 vehicles.

The planned projects are the first phase of a $200 million effort to widen the Beltway from Interstate 83 east through Lutherville and Towson to the Parkville area.

Work will begin in spring 1999 when State Highway Administration engineers are scheduled to begin dismantling parts of the Dulaney Valley intersection at the Beltway. Work on the Providence Road intersection with the Beltway is expected to begin by 2000.

Those two intersections will cost $24 million -- construction costs funded by the state.

A third plan, to redesign York Road's busy intersection at I-695 at a cost of $14 million, was left out of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposed capital budget released last week, but it remains on the drawing board, and engineers expect work there to begin in 2002.

At the Dulaney Valley Road and I-695 intersection, the cloverleaf from the outer loop that borders Hampton Lane near Towson United Methodist Church will be eliminated, as will the cloverleaf on the southwestern side of the intersection that feeds the Beltway's Inner Loop.

That redesign should erase confusing traffic patterns as vehicles enter and exit the ramps, said Angela Smith, an SHA associate engineer in highway design.

At Dulaney Valley Road and I-695, the amount of traffic increases each year, state highway statistics show. In 1994, about 152,000 vehicles used the intersection, a figure expected to increase to 168,000 in 2020, Smith said.

At Providence Road, the bridge spanning I-695 will be replaced and Beltway lanes widened under the bridge, Smith said. That ZTC work is expected to begin in 2000.

Charles R. Olsen, Baltimore County director of public works, said the redesign of both intersections is the first phase of an overhaul of the Beltway through Towson to solve traffic woes that exist nearly every hour because use of the highway has outgrown its original design.

The widening plans mirror a $55 million highway expansion to make eight lanes on I-695 from Interstate 83 west to Reisterstown Road, a section of the Beltway that carries nearly 170,000 drivers daily.

Another section on the 51.7-mile Beltway completed in 1977 has been targeted for widening after the turn of the century, Olsen said. That area consists of the clogged southwestern side near Woodlawn, Catonsville and Arbutus, but work there requires much initial preparation, Olsen said.

Despite the planned improvements, Olsen cautioned that if suburban development does not slow, the expanded Beltway, new designs and bridges will be of little consequence.

"It's very debatable," he said. "If traffic volumes continue to grow as they have, the situation will be about the same it is today -- but think of the alternatives if you don't do the improvements."

Pub Date: 1/26/98

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