Tag: road construction

Towson Bike Beltway Update

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A couple weeks ago, we told you about the proposed Bike Beltway that would link important sites in the North Baltimore neighborhood via designated bike lanes, improved signage, and narrowed traffic lanes. We’re happy to hear that the state approved the $100,000 grant, and construction could begin as early as this fall.

Brace Yourself Baltimore: Charles Street Under Major Construction Soon

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A rendering of the new pedestrian-friendly Charles Village, complete with students on cell phones.

Hope you’re enjoying those non-working traffic lights and trees in the middle of the road — they’re a piece of cake compared to the chaos that Charles Village residents and passers-by can expect when Charles Street goes under major construction later this month.

The good news? Once it’s all over, all those obliviously texting students who wander into the middle of Charles Street and terrify drivers will have a roadway that takes their safety into account. The bad news? Driving through Charles Village might be miserable for the next two years.

One Interstate Lane Closes, Another Opens — Today — in Baltimore

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What’s that sound, Baltimore drivers? The gentle breath of an early May breeze? The whoosh of a zooming sports car? Unfortunately, it’s the collective sigh of a thousand stranded (yet resigned) local motorists. As you probably know from reading The Sun or by braving the northbound JFX yourself, last night — between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. — all but a single lane near the northbound 29th Street exit was closed, leading drivers down a detour (Sisson to 29th and back to the JFX), and marking the official start of the two-million-dollar project to replace damaged drain pipes and strengthen the soil that supports the whole shebang. The un-fun continues each night through Monday. But it doesn’t stop there!

To quote The Sun story by Candus Thomson and Kevin Rector: “After this week, transportation authorities will alternate northbound and southbound overnight closures as needed throughout the road reconstruction project to keep traffic flowing.” Um, the opposite of yippee.

In far happier infrastructure storytelling, a bulletin from the State Highway Administration informed us that a new merge lane opens today, Friday, May 4th, along the I-695 W outer loop between York Road (MD 45) and Charles Street (MD 139).

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!

More Charles Street Grief (in the Name of $38 Million Improvement)

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This just in: The Maryland State Highway Administration will close the right lane of Charles Street at Kenilworth on April 2nd — between the Joppa Road overpass and Kenilworth — for two months’ time. The 24-hour right-lane closure will be in effect through early June. All according to an official SHA announcement. Why? Crews are set to widen a section of Charles St. as part of the I-695/MD 139 Interchange Project. What should drivers do? Take a chill pill; plan ahead.

According to the SHA, “This section of roadway will be reconstructed to meet the alignment of the future northbound lanes of the new Charles Street Bridge over I-695, which will be complete later this summer.

The State’s contractor for the $38 million interchange reconstruction project is the Six-M Company of Delta, Pennsylvania. Citizens who have questions about traffic operations along I-695 and Charles Street may call the project field office at 410-296-9041 or SHA’s District Four Office Construction Division at 410-229-2420 or toll free at 1-866-998-0367.  Citizens may view the I-695/Charles Street project web page on SHA’s website.”

Citizens who just need to vent can turn to their passenger and say, “Grrrrrr!”

Traffic D

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Taking the scenic drive up Charles Street–with serious bottlenecking between Northern Parkway and Bellona–can make you feel like you’re living in the movie Groundhog Day, repeating the same Men-at-Work scene every single day lately. You’ve probably noticed that construction on this portion of the pretty road seems to be set on not-so-instant replay. We’ve been so frustrated, and flat out confused, by the current re-repaving of this road that we could have sworn got similarly repaved last June that we decided to call up Adrienne Barnes, spokesperson for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. Barnes confirmed that this repave redo is not a product of our imaginations, but in fact fact: City engineers deemed the contractor M. Luis’ initial asphalt attempt “substandard” and unacceptable and required him to undertake the same repair operation again 100 percent free of charge.

M. Luis was legally obligated to fix the work without charging Baltimore or Maryland a penny, of course. Barnes explained further that funding for the company’s first botched job came from federal and local funds–while Sarbanes’ office clarified that no part of that spending is attached to a federal stimulus package. Said Ruxton road work (the sequel) began during the second week of October and will end the second week of November. 

How often does it happen that a road undergoes two copycat construction processes, due to unsatisfactory outcome? “Very rarely,” Barnes said. Though it certainly does happen. On an action-movie scale, too. Case in point: In late October, crews began essential repairs to the supports of three bridges over the Intercounty Connector or ICC (which carries a price tag of $2.6 billion, incidentally). The parts designer agreed to accept full financial responsibility, but the public must accept déjà vuinspiring delays due to lane closings. Consider it more time to think.

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