Some things in life are certain: death, taxes and roadwork on Interstate 695.

The next phase of an ongoing, multiyear construction project that aims to ease congestion and improve safety on I-695, the Baltimore Beltway, begins Monday, the State Highway Administration announced in a press release. The agency is warning drivers to expect “significant off-peak delays” along the northeast section of the Beltway as crews tackle shoulder work along a roughly 1½-mile section between White Marsh Boulevard and Lillian Holt Drive.

Approved in 2020, the entire project will ultimately allow through traffic on the inside shoulder in both directions during peak travel hours. The work will take place along most of the northern section of the beltway, from the Interstate 70 interchange on the west side to just shy of the Interstate 95 interchange in Northeast Baltimore County.

A map of Baltimore City and part of Baltimore County with color-coded sections of Interstate 695 that shows where roadwork is happening.
Construction crews are tackling a multiyear project that will open up the inside shoulders of the northern half of the Baltimore Beltway to traffic during peak travel hours. Starting March 18, 2024, crews will begin shoulder work along a roughly 1 1/2-mile section between White Marsh Boulevard and Lillian Holt Drive. (Maryland State Highway Administration)

“We appreciate the patience of our customers as we work hard to reduce congestion and improve safety along one of the busiest corridors in the state,” State Highway Administrator William Pines said in an emailed news release. “Drivers should plan extra commute time and consider alternate routes during active lane closures.”

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Crews will close the left lanes next to each inside shoulder between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily.

Once complete, lane control signaling similar to what’s present on the Bay Bridge will tell motorists when the shoulder is open to traffic. The multiyear project is estimated to cost just under $179 million and continue until 2026, according to state Department of Transportation capital budget documents.

The project aims to reduce congestion as officials brace for growth in daily traffic volumes of as much as 17.6% by 2043.

State officials have increasingly urged motorists to be cautious since a high-speed crash on the western edge of the project killed six construction workers last year. It was one of the deadliest work zone crashes in the United States in the past 40 years, prompting Gov. Wes Moore to create a state Work Zone Safety Work Group.

Led by Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, a former traffic engineer, the work group released a series of recommendations last fall that included modifying rules for the type of speed cameras state officials can place in work zones and increasing fines associated with the cameras. Miller testified in support of legislation currently working its way through Annapolis that would raise the fines for speed-camera tickets in work zones from $40 to $290 for a first offense.

Similar work for a nearly 5 ½-mile section of I-95 in Harford County should break ground next year. The $35 million project will open the southbound left shoulder to vehicle traffic during peak hours between Maryland House and Maryland 24. This will complement the ongoing roughly $1 billion extension of toll lanes along I-95 between White Marsh and just north of Maryland 24.

Daniel Zawodny covers transportation for the The Baltimore Banner as a corps member with Report For America. He is a Baltimore area native and graduated with his master's degree in journalism from American University in 2021. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and previously covered immigration issues.

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