Commuters should avoid driving through downtown Baltimore this morning, state transportation officials urged, saying the blocked Howard Street corridor is likely to cause major snarls.
With Howard Street closed to traffic between Mount Royal Avenue and Pratt Street, anyone attempting to enter the center of the city from the west by car or public transportation may have to use another route, as on Thursday and Friday.
Buses will continue to make detours around Howard Street instead of following established routes and schedules. Light rail and MARC train service continue to have disruptions.
Sensing a rare opportunity to promote the often-over looked Metro, state officials say this morning is a good time to discover the subway into town.
No matter how they get there, downtown workers are expected to be back in full force this morning. City and state employees are not being granted liberal leave, and the major freeway entrances into town, closed in the after math of Wednesday's fire, have long since reopened.
The Orioles are also back on the field, and with a game scheduled this afternoon, city officials are encouraging fans to take detours to the ballpark to avoid Howard Street. From the north, drivers are advised to exit Interstate 83 at North Avenue and follow Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to parking at PSINet Stadium.
Fans approaching from the south should take the Russell Street exit from Interstate 95, go right on Haines Street and park at the Ravens" stadium.
But to escape likely jams on major arteries leading into the heart of the city, state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari is pitching the Metro option.
"The one sure way is to take Metro. If you haven't tried our Metro service, think outside of the box. This is definitely the week to try it." Porcari said. "Think of it as "try-transit week."'
Porcari urged drivers coming from the north or west to take advantage of the Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, Milford Mill and Rogers Avenue Metro stations, all of which have large parking lots with available space, he said.
The Metro has several stops downtown and at the Johns Hopkins University and is not disrupted by the Howard Street Tunnel fire or the water main break at Howard and Lombard streets.
Meanwhile, light rail could be disrupted for days or weeks, with no trains running between North Avenue and Camden Yards. City workers are expected to tear up sections of the light rail track near Howard and Lombard streets to repair the water main break there and a collapsed storm drain that was discovered yesterday.
Getting to downtown from the north by light rail will be at least a two-step process: Take the light rail to the North Avenue stop, then hop on a shuttle bus to the Patapsco Avenue stop and from there head south to Cromwell Station or the Baltimore-Washington International Airport stop, or one stop north into Camden Station.
The shuttle bus will be stopping at regular bus stops in between the light rail stations, and those who get off at Eutaw Street can walk to take the Metro at the State Center stop, near Mount Royal Avenue.
And with the Camden MARC station closed downtown, transportation officials say commuters to the Washington area who usually take that line should drive to Dorsey Station or take the Penn Line from Penn Station.