Construction Forces JFX Commuters to Get (Mad and) Creative

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Congratulations, those of you who made it to work today despite the expletive-inducing JFX Road Construction from Hell!

Surely by now we’ve many of us survived the morning commute via an alternate route, if not by way of the newly slenderized Jones Falls Expressway itself, which has of course been reduced to two lanes in both directions for impending construction, the first of its involved kind on 83 in 25 years. And quick review (delivered in a whiny voice): The project, which closes lanes near 29th and Druid Lake Drive—to enable repairs to drainage pipes below the highway and “bolster the highway’s underpinnings”—could last as long as eight weeks and cost up to (cue Austin Powers) one million dollars.

“The Jones Falls Expressway as we know it disappeared Friday evening…” Candus Thomson wrote rather poetically in Saturday’s print edition of The Baltimore Sun, and also noted, “Taking away the two left lanes will reduce traffic flow by at least a third on Baltimore’s highest-volume artery.” Yikes!
“The remaining two lanes in each direction will not provide sufficient capacity to accommodate traffic demand and, accordingly, severe congestion will result unless there is a significant traffic diversion,” the transportation department said in a nameless statement.

Meanwhile, Adrienne Barnes, spokesperson for the department, told Thomson candidly, “All we’re getting is calls from people who say they don’t know any other way but the JFX. People are creatures of habit. They know one way and they’re comfortable.”

Agreed.  When it comes to driving through the city, I’m a rigid creature of habit seriously lacking a sense of direction. Helpful then (kind of miraculous feeling) to get a full breakdown of all construction-related closings plus nine alternate options (outlined by city engineers) to 83 in Saturday’s Sun as well.

I travel to work two days a week when I’m due at MICA to teach; the rest of the week I write from home, which is perfect for a person with limited navigational skills. To get to MICA, I take 83. A cinch from Roland Park. This week marks the first time I’ll ride my adorable white bicycle (wearing my less lovely white helmet) to class, traveling from Roland Ave. to Falls Road, which offers a super scenic bike lane. Falls empties into Maryland Avenue; then I’ll turn right, coast over the railroad yards and make the first right onto Oliver. I’ve got it memorized and everything. And the spring-y weather seems likely to cooperate.

(Of course, next week, when I’m running late, I’ll be cursing the frigging JFX-construction.)

In closing, safe travels to all. Please tell us your alternate route! Or are you braving the damn jammed JFX and what was that like today?



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2 COMMENTS

  1. I am happy to report only my teenagers are braving the JFX in the morning these days (against the traffic).

    Did anyone else notice the line in the SUN that said the work wasn’t being started for a while because they have not decided on a contractor?

    • Yep! No actual work to start for a few weeks — current barriers are a precaution against a feared sinkhole. One more test of the Baltimore driver’s patience! We’re going to have to become Zen masters to survive the commute, no?

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