Light Street lane closings likely to drag on till mid-October

Work to prepare for Grand Prix race expected to take two extra weeks

August 24, 2010|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

The repaving work that has been bedeviling downtown commuters who regularly use Light Street is expected to drag on longer than previously announced.

Kathy Chopper, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, said the multiple lane closings that have squeezed northbound Light Street to two lanes will likely continue through mid-October.

Construction work on southbound Light at Pratt Street, which is expected to shift to the center lanes Wednesday at 5:30 a.m., is expected to take another two weeks, Chopper said.

The road work on Light Street, part of the preparations for the downtown Grand Prix race set for Labor Day next year, has backed up morning commuters from Interstate 95 and from Federal Hill, while causing similar congestion in the evenings. City officials have urged downtown commuters to use alternate routes, such as Howard Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

City officials are urging drivers to avoid blocking intersections in a way that can cause gridlock. It warned that "blocking the box" is a traffic violation that can lead to a $70 fine.

The Light Street work is continuing at a time when the city is also replacing the concrete surface of Pratt Street, downtown's main eastbound artery, closing two of four lanes in the central business district. That work is expected to continue for another two months, Chopper said. The city has advised motorists to use Baltimore and Mulberry streets as alternate routes.

City officials say the downtown road work to prepare the streets for the Indy-style race cars will continue for about nine months. The work on Pratt and Light streets will be followed by repaving of Lee, Conway, Howard and Russell streets.

According to city transportation officials, the repaving and utility repairs were needed with or without the race.

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