Baltimore Interstate Highway Cancellation Details

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Scott M. Kozel

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Jun 13, 2003, 5:31:19 PM6/13/03
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I went through a folder of MDOT SHA information that I have about the
Baltimore Interstate highway system, that contains various materials
dating from 1977 to 1985. I wanted to pin down the cancellation dates
for segments of I-70, I-170 and I-83. My website lists the dates as
"mid 1980s". While these materials don't have the exact dates, they do
pin it down at least to the year. The final cost estimates and the
reasons for the cancellations are of interest also.

-- 3.1 miles of I-70 between western city line and I-170 - officially
canceled in 1981.
Reason - Unacceptable impacts to Leakin Park and to Gwynns Falls Park.
The 1979 estimated cost for the highway in the MDOT CTP was $146
million. The funding was transferred through the FHWA Interstate
Transfer Program (whereby federal funds from deleted Interstate sections
could be used to finance other highway and mass transit projects), to
help fund the Owings Mills Extension (Section B) of the Baltimore Metro
Subway, which was built 1982-1987.

-- 4.4 miles of I-83 between downtown and I-95 - officially canceled
about September 1982.
Reason - Robert Douglas, chief of Bureau of Design for Interstate
Division for Baltimore City (IDBC), told me in January 1985 that the
very high financial costs are what caused the I-83 extension to be
cancelled.

The brochure "Transportation Improvements in the East Baltimore I-83
Corridor" (I have a copy) was published in December 1982 by MDOT SHA and
IDBC, and it evaluated various boulevard improvements in lieu of the
cancelled extension of I-83. The 0.75-mile-long Jones Falls Boulevard
originated from this proposal, a 6-lane boulevard completed in 1987,
which extends from the truncated south end of the I-83 Jones Falls
Expressway into the downtown city streets, providing a smooth traffic
transition between the end of I-83 and the city streets. A number of
surface street reconstructions were undertaken in Fells Point, Canton
and East Baltimore, in the general corridor of the cancelled I-83
extension. The brochure had this to say about the I-83 extension
cancellation -

"I-83 was planned as an Interstate Route connecting the Jones Falls
Expressway (I-83) to I-95. In 1979, the proposed extension of the I-83
Expressway was advanced to the Final Environmental Impact Statement
stage of project planning. The cost of this Recommended "Full-Build"
Alternative, however, was $609 million (1979 dollars) and could be
expected to approach $1 billion in construction costs with inflation.
Baltimore City reviewed the cost estimate for the Recommended
"Full-Build" Alternative and concluded that it would be unable to fund
the project. This conclusion prompted the Interstate Division for
Baltimore City to study new, low-cost alternatives for each segment of
the project corridor".

SMK: Since the original Interstate highways in the U.S. were built with
funding shares of 90% from the U.S. Highway Trust Fund and 10% from the
respective state, I would interpret the above as saying that the City of
Baltimore's state highway allocations were insufficient to fund the 10%
share of the project (when competing with all the other needed city road
improvements), which would be close to $100 million spent over several
years, which would have been a lot of state highway dollars to spend in
one city in 1982-1985 dollars.

The I-83 funding was transferred through the FHWA Interstate Transfer
Program, to many other road and transit projects throughout the
Baltimore-Washington region. I saw the proposed project list back
around 1985, and there were at least 2 dozen projects proposed. I will
have to do more research to find out what projects were eventually
funded from the I-83 money, in addition to the aforementioned surface
street reconstructions in the general corridor of the cancelled I-83
extension.

This was proposed as I-595 after the cancellation of the above segment
of I-70, and it was officially canceled in July 1983 --
-- 0.9 miles of I-70 between I-170 and I-95
-- 0.7 miles of I-170 between I-70 and existing I-170

The 1.3-mile-long segment of I-170 in the Franklin Street / Mulberry
Street corridor, which was opened in 1979, would have also been part of
the 2.9-mile-long I-595. The re-designation of this isolated section of
I-170 to US-40, would have occurred soon after the July 1983
cancellation of proposed I-595, since that is when it became known that
I-170 would never be connected to the Interstate system.

Reason for the cancellation of I-595 - in an August 31, 1983 letter, a
transportation engineer of the Interstate Division for Baltimore City
told me -

"I-595 was withdrawn from consideration in July of this year. In its
place the monies will be spent on a host of other projects, including an
extension of our soon-to-be opened subway from Downtown to Hopkins
Hospital and a large number of road and bridge rehabilitation projects.
These projects will be funded under the "Interstate Transfer" Program,
whereby Federal Funds from deleted Interstate Sections can be used to
finance other projects. The decision to delete I-595 was made because
many of our streets and bridges are in great need of repair, and if we
had to use our local revenues to finance the local share of I-595, we
would have even less money left over for our surface street repairs.
Our needs for transit improvements and bridge repairs are pressing".

SMK: The 1982 estimated cost for completing I-595, listed in the MDOT
CTP, was $358 million. That cost was in addition to the $97 million
that had already been spent for the 1.3-mile-long segment of I-170. The
CTP entry also says that the I-595 designation was pending official
approval. So this proposed I-595 designation only existed for about a
year, and it never did have a final official approval (I would interpret
that as being federal approval). So, I-595 was cancelled for much the
same reason as that of the I-83 extension, that the City of Baltimore's
state highway allocations were insufficient to fund the 10% share of the
project when competing with all the other needed city road improvements.

Also, in my opinion, when the Leakin Park segment of I-70 was canceled,
that eliminated a considerable portion of the utility of the remaining
parts of proposed I-70 and I-170 in the city; and while I-595 would have
directly connected I-95 to the western and northern parts of the central
business district (which I-95 and I-395 does not do), the overall
benefit of I-595 would have been considerably less than that if the I-70
Leakin Park segment had been built also, thus completing I-70 in the
city.

The brochure "Transportation Improvements in the West Baltimore I-595
Corridor" (I have a copy) was published by MDOT SHA and IDBC in January
1983, and it evaluated various alternatives for I-595. Most of the
highway would have been built on elevated viaduct structure, the I-70
portion over the Gwynns Falls creek valley, and the I-170 portion over
many street crossings and crossing twice over the Conrail/Amtrak
railroad.

--
Scott M. Kozel Highway and Transportation History Websites
Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. http://www.roadstothefuture.com
Philadelphia and Delaware Valley http://www.pennways.com

Scott M. Kozel

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Jun 13, 2003, 6:27:14 PM6/13/03
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"Scott M. Kozel" <koz...@attbi.com> wrote:
>
> I went through a folder of MDOT SHA information that I have about the
> Baltimore Interstate highway system, that contains various materials
> dating from 1977 to 1985. I wanted to pin down the cancellation dates
> for segments of I-70, I-170 and I-83. My website lists the dates as
> "mid 1980s". While these materials don't have the exact dates, they do
> pin it down at least to the year. The final cost estimates and the
> reasons for the cancellations are of interest also.

> -- 3.1 miles of I-70 between western city line and I-170 - officially
> canceled in 1981.

> -- 4.4 miles of I-83 between downtown and I-95 - officially canceled
> about September 1982.

> This was proposed as I-595 after the cancellation of the above segment


> of I-70, and it was officially canceled in July 1983 --
> -- 0.9 miles of I-70 between I-170 and I-95
> -- 0.7 miles of I-170 between I-70 and existing I-170

Here are the Baltimore Interstate system maps --

"Baltimore Interstate System Map" -
http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Balt_Interstate_Map.html

"Baltimore Harbor Interstate System Map" -
http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Balt_Harbor_Interstate_Map.html

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