Beltway shifts ahead at Dulaney Valley

Work on interchange may require closures

August 28, 1999|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

Drivers might endure traffic jams on Interstate 695 this weekend while traffic patterns are altered at the Dulaney Valley Road interchange as part of a continuing project to make that section of the highway safer and reduce congestion.

Between 7 p.m. Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday, the three lanes of the Beltway's outer loop will be shifted so the right shoulder becomes the right lane. The same will happen on the inner loop starting at 7 p.m. Monday and ending at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The lane shifts are part of the $7 million reconstruction of the Beltway/Dulaney Valley Road interchange and construction on the Dulaney Valley Road bridge. The project, which will expand the bridge and eliminate two loops of the cloverleaf intersections, is expected to be completed by spring 2001.

"It's not only going to help improve safety but help alleviate congestion in the peak traffic times," said Frances Ward, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.

For the duration of the project, lanes may be closed during late-night and early-morning hours, including possible full closure of the Beltway for no more than 15-minute intervals between midnight and 5 a.m.

Single-lane and shoulder closures along the Beltway also may occur between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays. But all Beltway lanes will remain open during peak travel hours.

The construction work, which began in April, has been causing headaches and delays for some of the more than 177,000 motorists who use the cloverleaf at Dulaney Valley Road and the Beltway daily.

Baltimore County Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, a Towson Republican, said his office has received at least a dozen complaints from drivers who find the Dulaney Valley Road traffic pattern changes confusing.

"For people who are commuting to work, it's been a hassle," he said. "But it's something that's just got to work its way through. In order to get the thing done, we just have to bear with it."

Skinner especially looks forward to construction of a new Dulaney Valley Road bridge, which will be built with stones to match Towson's traffic circle and Goucher College's stone wall. He said the bridge will create a better-looking entrance to the town than York Road.

"If you want to invite guests to Towson, you want to use the front door, not the back door," Skinner said. "And Dulaney Valley Road is the front door."

Not everyone is bothered by the construction. Lawrence Taubman, owner of Dulaney Plaza on Dulaney Valley Road, said workers at his plaza are only minimally inconvenienced during their trips home. He said many of them have been using alternative routes, including York Road west of the Dulaney Valley Road interchange and Providence Road to the east, which the State Highway Administration recommends.

"We're far enough away from it that it doesn't cause traffic jams," Taubman said. "I actually thought it would be worse."

Likewise, Goucher College, which has its main entrance on Dulaney Valley Road, hasn't been hurt, said Debra Rubino, the college's executive director of communications. She said the construction of new traffic lights on Dulaney Valley Road makes it easier to leave the college.

"It's a boon," she said. "It may slow things a little bit, but for the most part, we really welcome the improvement."

Road construction

Traffic patterns on Interstate 695 will be altered at the Dulaney Valley Road interchange. Here are the times traffic may be shifted Sundays through Thursdays until spring 2001.

7 p.m. - 5 a.m.

I-695 single-lane and shoulder closures

10 p.m. - 5 a.m.

I-695 Double-lane, shoulder closures. Possible temporary closure of interchange ramps.

12 a.m. - 5 a.m.

Occasional full closure of I-695 for a maximum of 15 minutes.

9 p.m. - 5 a.m.

Dulaney Valley Road single lane closures.

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