Final OK given for widening of I-95

Baltimore & Region

September 30, 2005|By MICHAEL DRESSER | MICHAEL DRESSER,SUN REPORTER

The Federal Highway Administration has given Maryland final approval to add four lanes to a congested 10-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between the Baltimore City line and White Marsh, state Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said yesterday.

Construction of the $831 million expansion is expected to begin late this year or early next year. It will add two lanes to I-95 in each direction between the Interstate 895 split and Route 43. The project, the first stage in the planned widening of I-95 all the way to Delaware, is expected to be completed in 2011.

Flanagan said federal officials also signed off on the state's plan to create "congestion-managed" toll lanes - a concept the Ehrlich administration eventually wants to introduce on the Baltimore and Capital beltways - as part of the project.

The administration announced its plans for the I-95 corridor northeast of Baltimore than two years ago but has had to wait through a federal approval process. "This is not a surprise. It is a milestone," Flanagan said.

He said commuters would see some benefits even before the project is complete. The plan includes improvements to the bridges at Rossville Boulevard, Cowenton Avenue and Joppa Road, as well as changes to the I-895, Baltimore Beltway and Route 43 interchanges.

Flanagan said the project would be financed through tolls and bonds. He said the state did not plan to raise tolls - which were increased in 2003 - to pay for the project.

Tolls on the new express lanes will be collected solely through EZ Pass, with no need for motorists to slow down for payments to register, Flanagan said. He said tolls would vary with congestion but said the Maryland Transportation Authority hadn't yet decided on the methodology.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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