Redesign of Beltway link begins

Dulaney Valley Road to lose 2 access loops

July 10, 1999

Starting this weekend, motorists who travel on Dulaney Valley Road through Towson should be prepared to sit longer in traffic, as two loops of the cloverleaf interchange at the Beltway are snipped -- a $7 million project to make the intersection safer.

The redesign of the interchange is the first of several projects that will eliminate loops in cloverleaf intersections in the continuing effort to improve heavily traveled Interstate 695.

"This weekend is the first major step to making the project happen," said State Highway Administration spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar.

Each day, more than 177,000 motorists pass through the Dulaney Valley Road interchange. But, as with many cloverleafs in suburban areas, Dulaney Valley Road has become knotted with traffic.

Drivers have found it increasingly difficult to weave through cars and tractor- trailers to get on and off the Beltway. By eliminating two loops of the cloverleaf and requiring left turns instead, engineers hope to relieve some of the Beltway congestion.

The Dulaney Valley Road project includes a new, 263-foot bridge that will permit widening of the Beltway underneath in the future.

A $58 million project to widen the western section of the Beltway from six to eight lanes was completed last year. But widening the northern segment of the Beltway requires the redesign of three interchanges -- Providence, York and Dulaney Valley roads -- and is years away.

Edgar said the loop closures are being started on a weekend, when traffic is relatively light and so that commuters will have some warning. Even so, some backups are expected, she said.

"It's a construction zone, and it's going to require some extra navigational skills," she said.

Beginning at 9 p.m. today, two loops of the Dulaney Valley Road interchange will be closed permanently: the northbound ramp, heading west on the outer loop of the Beltway; and the southbound ramp, heading east on the inner loop.

Drivers heading onto the Beltway from Dulaney Valley Road in those directions will have to wait at signal lights to make left turns onto the interstate.

Additionally, all four lanes of traffic on the Dulaney Valley Road bridge over the Beltway will be shifted to the northbound side of the bridge through the winter so that crews can work on the southbound side of the bridge.

Motorists will face other intersection changes beginning at 9 p.m. tomorrow. At that time, the ramp from the outer loop of the Beltway to southbound Dulaney Valley Road, and the inner loop to northbound Dulaney Valley Road, will be temporarily closed. Those changes will be in place until fall next year, when the work will be nearing completion.

Signs and message boards will direct traffic along alternative routes during the changes.

"Until you feel comfortable with it, if you are on the inner loop coming to the Towson area, you may want to consider using York or Providence road exits," said Dave Buck, another State Highway Administration spokesman.

During construction, traffic jams are expected to get worse on Dulaney Valley Road.

"In September, it will probably be a bigger problem when Goucher [College] gets back in school," Buck said.

Crews began the complicated task of overhauling the Dulaney Valley Road interchange in April.

Pub Date: 7/10/99

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