Up and down the JFX

Work in progress: Even as Charles Street ramp reopens, resurfacing will slow expressway traffic.

November 01, 2001

GOOD NEWS concerning the Jones Falls Expressway always seems to have a downside.

Now that the Charles Street ramp at Pennsylvania Station has been reopened, guess what? In about 10 days, work crews will start resurfacing both the north- and southbound lanes of Baltimore's most popular commuter artery, from the city line to North Avenue.

This $5.4 million job isn't expected to be completed until late spring or early summer. Even though most work will be done during off-peak hours, more than 110,000 daily commuters can expect delays, frayed nerves and fender-benders.

Many JFX regulars have developed alternative routes. Some scoot through Druid Hill Park, while others take Falls Road or Charles and St. Paul streets. These circuitous bypasses may have their advantages, but they, too, can get congested.

Soon after the JFX is redone, the city wants to begin replacing the Russell Street viaduct leading to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

The $14 million job is expected to take two years. Also to be replaced is the feeder viaduct on Monroe Street, a $12 million project calculated to take 18 months.

Is there an alternative to these motoring woes?

Bill Struever, the construction wizard, thought he had one. He kayaks from Canton to his office in Locust Point.

But even paddling can have its problems, Mr. Struever learned recently. When he tried to cross the Patapsco after Sept. 11, the Coast Guard, which had closed the harbor, apprehended him as a potential terrorist.

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

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