Reporting Christie Ileto
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimoreans spend hours stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But gridlock could be coming to an end for a mile stretch of 695′s outer loop.
Christie Ileto explains the changes that could make your commute easier.
Interstate 695 is a jungle of brake lights that Baltimoreans battle every day.
“Backs up a lot,” a driver said.
“If you’re not stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic around here, you’re not driving the Beltway,” said another driver.
But that’s about to change. Wednesday, Gov. Martin O’Malley says plans are in the works to widen the outer loop of 695 from three lanes to four from Route 40 to Frederick Road.
“We have a tremendous opportunity really to move Maryland forward, especially when it comes to our transportation system,” the governor said.
Newly appointed State Transportation Secretary Jim Smith tells WJZ this project is about safety and convenience, bringing in 1,200 jobs.
“This is a $90 million project that affects thousands of people who traverse the wicked west side of the Beltway daily,” Smith said.
But not everyone is sold on the plan. Mike Giangeruso, Tweeting about the project, says “Nothing will remove the bottleneck until another lane is added under the I-70 bridge.”
But right now, Baltimore traffic ranks 17th worst in the country and this mile stretch, traveled by 200,000 drivers a day, is just part of the problem.
In the meantime: “We ask for drivers to be patient, pay attention and think about our work zones,” said Melinda Peters, State Highway Administration.
As crews finish expanding the Frederick Road bridge to make way for the $90 million project ahead.
Construction is slated to start in 2015 and will take three-four years to complete.
The design for the $90 million project is more than half completed. The Frederick Road bridge is scheduled to be finished by this fall.