Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Overlooked Link- Bus Stop Stations

Constructing innovative bus stop stations would do much to popularize the use of bus and van service yet get strangely overlooked by most of the pro transit community.


Unmanned transit platforms, floating in the outside plane, can be lonely nowhere-lands in the anxious midst of travel. Or, under the "Prettig Wachten" campaign in the Netherlands, they can become cozy havens, reclaiming the time spent waiting as leisure. For the platform at Barneveld Noord station, NL Architects designed a refuge out of glass and shipping containers, creating a strip of space on the platform that is both protected and unobtrusive. A section within the glass enclosure is reserved for a cafe — a massive upgrade from the decrepit vending machine soldier, stationed far from civilization. While the black containers and neutral glass gives the structure a simple, easily reproducible form, the silhouette of a golden hen sits on top, individuating its location to Barneveld, 'egg capital' of the Netherlands.

Project Description from NL Architects:

"ProRail, responsible for the railway network in the Netherlands, together with the so called spoorbouwmeester Koen van Velsen (‘the national supervisor for railway architecture’) started a campaign to make waiting more comfortable: Prettig Wachten."

 "Travelers experience waiting on a station as much longer then waiting within a vehicle. Surveys have indicated that waiting time is experienced as 3 times longer than it actually is. In this respect especially small and medium sized stations proof a big challenge. These smaller stations are usually unmanned, desolate, often creating a sense un-safety. What can we do to improve them?"

"The waiting areas of in total twenty stations throughout the country will be upgraded, both functionally and cosmetically: introduction of washrooms, wifi, floor heating, railway TV. Or Art!

One of the keys to the success of Prettig Wachten is to introduce human presence on these stations, to create some sort of informal supervision. An effort is made to create small multifunctional shops. In Wolvega for instance a flower shop will be opened, the florist will also be serving coffee and will even be cleaning the restrooms."

"In Barneveld Noord a bike-repair shop will be included run by people that are ‘differently able’. They will contribute to the maintenance and hopefully prevent the broken window syndrome.

In Barneveld Noord a new station will be build. Well station, perhaps more a bus-stop. But then again, quite an intriguing bus-stop…"

"It is supposed to be a temporary structure. Hence the station will be built out of shipping containers. The containers contain space, but also form space.

They will be combined into an explicit arrangement. Together they form an ambiguous but strong sign. Minimum effort, maximum output."

 "Three containers are ‘suspended’ in the air. Together they form a ‘roof’. One contains the installations, the other storage. The third will be opened at the bottom. It forms the headroom for the enclosed but fully transparent waiting area, creating a double high space."

"The fourth container is flipped to an upright position. It makes an instant tower. The tower contains a clock. And a wind vane. Since Barneveld is the egg capital of the Netherlands — the station is located on the so-called Chicken Line — not the typical rooster will be mounted, but a gilded chicken.

Project Details and Credits:
Project: Barneveld Noord Train station in the framework of Prettig Wachten, 2011, completion 2013
Initiative ‘Prettig Wachten’ and Supervision: Spoorbouwmeester Koen van Velsen / ProRail
Client: ProRail
NL Architects: Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk, Kamiel Klaasse
Project Architect: Gerbrand van Oostveen
Team: Kirsten Hüsig, Barbara Luns, Gert Jan Machiels and Gen Yamamoto with Aude Robert and Christian Asbo
Consultant: Movares
Contractor: Strukton

The tower holds a lavatory, 11.998mm high, topped by a glass roof. Royal Flush."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Planning For Hartford CT I-84 Reconstruction

One of Connecticut's most heavily used freeway segments, used by some 170,000+ vehicles daily.

I-84 in northwestern Hartford Connecticut is largely upon a viaduct, and feeds into a trenched northern east west segment that is partially lidded.

Recent planning to reconstruct this northwestern segment aims to reconstruct this freeway segment, perhaps radically reconfiguring it to have it fit better within the local landscape.

The freeway options include a more attractive viaduct, with or without a short tunnel segment, a lowered road/trench with the short tunnel segment, or a longer tunnel.

An earlier option to replace this freeway segment with a surface street-boulevard has been abandoned as not meeting the project's needs and in presenting a greater local barrier of the heavy stream of I-84 traffic.

Short Tunnel with Viaduct Segment

Viaduct and Lowered Roadway-Tunnel Options

Complicating this project is the adjacent rail corridor which crosses to the east and then back to the west of the freeway.

Lowering the railroad would be more difficult owing to the requirement to keep the gradient under 1%, and relocating it to the highway's east would  not reduce the number of its crossings with the highway.   However, relocating the railroad to be entirely west of the highway would only require relocating a short stretch of the railroad while eliminating its crossings with this freeway project segment.  Thus, the project might relocate the segment of that railroad to remain upon the highway's western side, though that would thus place the highway between the railroad and the Amtrak station, that could be accommodated with that highway segment as cut and cover.


Baseline—Enhanced Viaduct:
Highway replaced with
enhanced viaduct structure

Alternative Concept 1:
Highway replaced with enhanced
viaduct structure; improved connections across highway- includes short tunnel segment in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station

Alternative Concept 2:
Viaduct replaced by surface roadway; rail line relocated to north side of I-84; city reconnected
across highway- includes short tunnel segment in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station

Alternative Concept 3:
Viaduct replaced by tunnel, including that in the vicinity of the Amtrak Station, but extending southwards past the Aetna Center; rail
line relocated to north side of I-84; city reconnected across highway

Choose either options #3 or #4.

Reconstruct elevated portion of I-91 in tunnel or in trench that is partially lidded as tunnel, and designed to have additional segments subsequently lidded, as per Cincinnati's I-71 Fort Washington Way project.

Although the current official planning merely addresses I-84, there are voices calling for the project to include a short cut and cover tunnel spur to connect with the already constructed Whitehead Freeway, as per the previous proposal for an I-484 Colon Whitehead Connector.


I-484 Tunnel beneath Bushnell Park

Such a connector could be updated by constructing new lids atop the Whitehead trenched freeway, near Pulaski Circle to the west and to Columbus Boulevard to the east.  Lower the Whitehead roadbed to clear the historic overhead crossing so as to provide 2 lanes in each direction.  Or disassemble and reassemble that historic bridge relocated into a new location, and perhaps build the connector with 3 lanes per direction.
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector
I-484/Colon Whitehead Connector

Likewise, the ramp connections from the west could be covered as a part of a project reconstructing the adjoining I-84 segment as a lidded- cut and cover tunnel.

Such a connection would be unobtrusive as a tunnel, and serve as a relief route from the northern Hartford CT I-84 segment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wheel Guards For Large Vehicles

a somewhat uncharacteristically sensible set of safety equipment suggestions from Streetsblog




These are simple relatively inexpensive plastic and or rubber devices that are easily retrofit-table to existing trucks and buses.

Such devices could save many lives by preventing cyclists and pedestrians from being crushed by the vehicle's tires.

And they could even provide superior aerodynamics for such vehicles at freeway speeds, thus saving fuel.

We have already benifited from requiring the installation of such devices as metal frames on the rear of large trucks to prevent errant vehicles from sliding beneath.

Under-ride Guard


Technically called a Rear Under-run Protection System (RUPS), this is a rigid assembly hanging down from the bottom rear of the trailer, which is intended to provide some protection for passenger cars which collide with the rear of the trailer. Public awareness of this safeguard was increased in the aftermath of the accident that killed actress Jayne Mansfield on 29 June 1967, when the car she was in hit the rear of a tractor-trailer, causing fatal head trauma. After her grisly death, the NHTSA recommended requiring a rear under-ride guard, also known as a Mansfield bar, or an ICC bar,[14][15] but the trucking industry has been slow to upgrade this safety feature.[16]

The bottom rear of the trailer is near head level for an adult seated in a car, and without the under-ride guard, the only protection for such an adult's head in a rear-end collision would be the car's windshield. Because of the height mismatch between a passenger car bumper and the much-higher height of the platform of a trailer, the car's protective crush zone becomes irrelevant and air bags are ineffective in protecting the car passengers, if the under-ride guard is missing or inadequate.[16]

In addition to rear under-ride guards, truck tractor cabs may be equipped with a Front Under-run Protection System (FUPS) at the front bumper of the truck. The safest tractor-trailers are also equipped with side under-ride guards, also called Side Under-run Protection System (SUPS). These additional barriers prevent passenger cars from skidding underneath the trailer from the side, such as in an oblique or side collision, or if the trailer jackknifes across the road. In addition to safety benefits, these under-ride guards may improve fuel mileage by reducing air turbulence under the trailer at highway speeds.

Another benefit of having a sturdy under-ride guard is that it may be secured to a loading dock with a hook to prevent trailer creep, a movement of the trailer away from the dock, which opens up a dangerous gap during loading or unloading operations.[17]

Yet U.S. federal Officials at U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are delaying the implementation of safety standards requiring the deployment of plastic and or rubber guards to reduce pedestrian and cyclists deaths and injuries.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Improving NewYork's Syracuse I-81 Reconstruction Plan

So far the official planning for the reconstruction of I-81 through downtown Syracuse New York:

Sandbags below ground freeways with inadequate and wasteful designs.

Tunnels that are either needlessly deep or long thus increasing construction costs.

With downtown tunnels and open trench designs all hobbled by need to connect with existing elevated I-690 segment, thus presenting ramps that sever street intersections.

Thus leaving the sole freeway option of a rebuilt viaduct  -- without any discussion of innovative underside design.

With the sole remaining no freeway option of a mere boulevard, that's going to cost $1+ Billion anyway, effectively steering the decision process to that latter option.

These were the downtown freeway options considered:

Syracuse Lowered I-81 Option



T-1 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK East to Butternut Street $2.651 Billion

T-2 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK to Genesee Street $1.761 Billion

T3 Townsend Street Tunnel under Oakwood Avenue and Townsend Street from about MLK East to Butternut Street-- $2.643 Billion


T4 Eastern Alignment Tunnel $3.298 Billion


DH-1  Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Butternut Street- $1.751 Billion

DH-2 Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Genesee Street- $1.503 Billion
Syracuse Elevated I-81 Options

V-2  New Viaduct Fully Improved to Current Standards- $1.438 Billio

V3 New Viaduct with Substantial Design Improvements- $1.423 Billion

The difference in the downtown Almond Street Tunnel and Trench Options is the location of the northern end: either Genesse Street to south of  I-690, or Butternut Street to the north.

Because of the ramp connections to elevated I-690, the tunnel and trench options would severe a number of local streets: Erie Boulevard, Water Street, Washington Street, Fayette Street, Almond Street (to Northside), McBride Street(to Northside), and VanBuren Street.

Meanwhile, the options to eliminate the freeway for a surface boulevard were all at about $1.0 billion.

Syracuse I-81 Tunnel Options Officially Considered

Of the 4 tunnel options, 3 are cut and cover, with 2 that follow the existing I-81 right of way, yet have their roofs some 20 feet below ground, significantly deeper than simply a lidded trenched freeway.

The 4th tunnel option is moled-drilled, way to the east on a far longer and deeper route.


The official planning in 2014 concluded:

(see the "conclusions" at page 24: page 32 on the pdf indicator):

a tunnel would be prohibitively expensive

Depressed highway would create a new barrier that
would be more difficult for cars and pedestrians to cross
and create accessibility problems for people with


The least expensive tunnel - T-2 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK to Genesee Street - would cost $1.761 Billion, while the open trench and replacement viaduct options range from $1.4 to 1.75 Billion.

With excavation depth a considerable factor in the cost of cut and cover tunnel construction, why did the official planning consider cut and cover tunnels that are deeper than necessary.

What about a shallow tunnel -  aka a covered version of the proposed depressed freeway?

The open trench option meanwhile is presented with zero consideration of adding a roof.

Note the two options that are roughly similar in length:

 T-1 Almond Street Tunnel from MLK East to Butternut Street $2.651 Billion

 DH-1  Depressed Highway from Adams Street to Butternut Street- $1.751 Billion

That represents a difference of $900 million between a tunnel and an open trench.

How much less would such an option to build a tunnel, but as a covered version of the shallower excavation of DH-1?

That would reduce construction costs over a deeper excavation, yet is NOT included in the study.

Nor were any options for a depressed freeway that is designed to support the subsequent addition of a roof thus presenting the option of spreading out some of the costs over time, like Cincinnati's I-71 Fort Washington Way.

And with the downtown tunnel and trench options being dropped due to the issue of the severing of the street grid, why did the officials only consider downtown tunnel and trench proposals that did such owing to the requirement to maintain connections with the existing elevated I-690 segment?

But why maintain connections to an outdated elevated highway segment that will eventually need replacing?

If we are really serious about reconnecting downtown Syracuse, we would ultimately plan to do something regarding the eventual reconstruction of I-690, perhaps lowering that into a trench would could be covered over with parkland and new real estate development.  Imagine both freeways dropping underground to cross beneath N. Salina Street, with I-690 remaining below grade at least until N. Crouse Avenue?

Doing all of that now would likely be considered too expensive for a single project.

But why deny the opportunity to lower and tunnel the north-south I-81 segment.  And why hobble downtown Syracuse with major investments in ramp connections that sever the downtown for the existing outdated elevated downtown I-690 segment.

Instead, build a downtown I-81 Tunnel that disregards such connections and is of sufficient length to pass to the north side of I-690, that is, to Butternut Street.  Yet one that leaves space/design flexibility to add such connections later in a future project to lower that downtown portion of I-690: a latter project that could be partially funded by the sale of air rights over the newly lowered I-690 segment.

Such is the potential of a recent political initiative of a group of elected officials are challenging this study.

They are calling for a 'hybrid' option of a cut and cover tunnel beneath a new surface boulevard as the best of all worlds, via a design by Destiny USA.

This design extends the cut and cover I-81 Tunnel north of I-690 to Butternut Street, as per the official "T-1" option.

However, it does so without the ramp connections to I-690.

(Thus this design eliminating most of the street severings- leaving only that for a one block segment of East Water Street, immediately next to an Erie Boulevard that would remain continuous, while providing a new traffic circle with its intersection with Almond Street.)

And it is about 1,500 feet shorter at its southern end, extending not to MLK Boulevard, but only to East Taylor Street.

Thus it should be somewhat less expensive then the $2.6 Billion of the "T-1" option.

No word if this design has the shallow excavation of the trench options as "DH-1", or deeper as with the cut and cover options as "T-1".

If the authorities object to the lack of connections with I-690, they could deal with this in a staged manner:

- Construct a "u" turn ramp from I-81 nb to sb to the north, perhaps in the vicinity of West Court Street.  In conjunction with the already planned new flyovers from I-81 to the north and I-690 to the west, this would allow all of the movements of the I-81/I-690 interchange. 

- incorporate stub connectors for direct connections into the new tunnel, perhaps fully building the I-81 nb to I-690 eb ramp, as the easiest to construct, with it emerging just east of Almond Street with some 1,000 feet to rise to merge with I-690 before North Crouse Avenue; and build the short segment of the I-690 wb to I-81 sb underground ramp that would pass directly beneath the new I-81 tunnel, but deferring its completion and that of the others to a future project to depress the downtown segment of I-690.

Such would eliminate the need to construct lengthy ramps that would sever the downtown street grid for connecting to an elevated freeway that would one day need replacing- and preferably lowing and covering.

Building only a single underground ramp connection that splits off to the right -- northbound I-81 to eastbound I-690 - and a stub connection for an underground connection from westbound I-690 to southbound I-81 would be the minimum requirement for incorporation into the current project.

The other ramp connections would be accomplished with the "u" turn ramp in the West Court Street area, in conjunction with the elevated connections between I-81 from the north and I-690 from the west.

Use some of the money from this design economization to make the downtown I-81 Tunnel wider with at least 3 or preferably 4 lanes per direction.

And keep an eye on the design to accommodate future projects to lower I-81 to the south and the downtown segment of east-west I-690.

The I-81 Destiny USA hybrid tunnel-boulevard plan is a definite step in the right direction.





Friday, March 13, 2015

Cap Philadelphia's I-676 Vine Street Expressway


Cap  676 is  a vision for a connected Philadelphia. The project is a crowd sourced effort to plan and progress the development over Interstate 676 in Philadelphia into a strip of green parks and amenities running across the  city.

The building of Interstate 676 cut a boundary through the center of Philadelphia, dissecting north Philadelphia from Center City.  Although Interstate 676 has caused many issues for Philadelphia and its citizens, the way  it was built was actually a blessing. This project will not cost tens of billions of dollars like the  Big  Dig project in Boston. No tunnel will need to be dug. Interstate 676 is already below ground level, and  putting a cap over this highway is a much more feasible undertaking than other projects that have remedied the auto-centric development of past decades.

Imagine  the benefits of a capped  676. Similar projects across the country and world have increased the quality of life for citizens, increased surrounding property values, spurred development, and increased tax revenues for municipalities.

Cap 676 seeks to gather the opinions, needs, and  wants of the community of Philadelphia in order to crowd source the ideal vision for a capped Vine Street Expressway. The goal is to put together our minds, talents, and resources in order to turn this vision into a reality. Let’s put a green belt on the waist of Philadelphia!




 A new direct freeway connection to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge



The first phase of capping Interstate 676 has been funded and  approved, but many people believe that this phase should go further. As part of a $120 million PennDOT project to revamp the western section of Interstate 676, a small section of the highway will be capped. Although  this sounds great, and it is definitely better than nothing, it is definitely a missed opportunity. The project is focused on improving the auto bridges that run over the Vine Street Expressway. The section that is being capped is on the northwest corner of Logan Square, a public space that was dramatically impacted by the building of the highway. The top quarter of the park was turned into a highway canyon because of the auto-centric thinking of city planners decades ago.

 Steve Anderson's Vine Street Expressway Overview


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mandatory For Any Trenched Freeway Project

Install the necessary support substructure before project completion in order to make it easier to add extra lid segments later.

To get an idea of what this may involve, see the following photos of the recent (1998-2000) $323 million reconstruction of the I-71 Fort Washington Way segment in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Funding for the pile driving was secured and actual work took place from Feb 2000 through August. Four decks of various sizes between originally planned overpasses will combine for a total tunnel length of 1200ft. 750 piles were driven, with 3 rows of 250 along the north edge, south edge, and median between the eastbound and westbound lanes. The cost of the pile driving was $10 million and estimated cost of the future supports and actual decking is $46 million. $14 million was saved by driving the piles before reconstruction was complete. The deck will not be built until at least 2005, when development south of the expressway is complete. The deck itself will be designated as a park, and so therefore will be eligible for funds from additional sources




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Anti Grade Seperation Dogma Over Common Sense

recent article at Greater, Greater Washington a textbook example of reactionary anti freeway dogma over riding common sense (even hurting pedestrians and cyclists)


Dan Reed needs to show the broader picture
showing the proximity with the recently constructed ICC interchange

The GGW article, "Expand a highway to get a sidewalk.  How about just build the sidewalk?"  authored by Dan Reed, creator of the blog Just Up the Pike reports negatively upon MDOT's new project for a segment of MD Route 29 in Fairland, Maryland, about 15 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. involving creating some new walkways/bike paths, the partial closing of an at grade intersection and the replacement of anther with an overpass.

The article is particularly negative about the project's creation of a grade separated interchange for the currently at grade traffic light intersection of Route 29 with Fairland Road for a new overpass the carry the latter (a local road) over the former (a 6 to 8 lane major arterial that's generally a freeway with a few remaining at grade intersections though with most others already replaced with overpasses.

It makes some sense, particularly in noting the elimination of the Musgrove Road crossing of 29, maintaining its access to and from northbound 29 but making it a dead end on the northern side, though failing to bring itself to suggest a new grade separated there- even if only for pedestrians and cyclists!

Likewise it notes the greater development in the suburbia-exurbia creating the 10% increase in vehicular traffic since 2006.

Alas the article hobbles its sensible suggestions with its anti grade seperation dogma.

It notes the need to improve bus service on the 29 corridor though alas without noting the need for greatly improved bus stops- mini stations.

It notes the lack of space for grade separated interchanges, or rather more correctly, those of the sprawling type seen in the suburbs and rural areas further south into Silver Spring and Washington, D.C., which limits the 29 freewayification to the area north of New Hampshire Avenue to I-70.

Yet that ignores the clear advantages of 29 as a full freeway to the north of New Hampshire Avenue for increasing bus line speed over the relatively longer distances to this new development.

And most starkly, the article makes no mention of the proximity of the Route 29/Fairland Road intersection with the recently constructed grade separated interchange with the Inter County Connector Freeway (ICC).  

As if pedestrian safety is served by denying a full grade separated interchange for Fairland Road with such a major grade separated interchange so close by.

Instead the article rests upon dogmatic statements as:

Research shows that building more roads in an effort to cut congestion is actually counterproductive. The roads eventually just fill with more cars as drivers use the new road space to drive more or longer distances than they used to.

That makes no acknowledgment of the greater efficiency of freewayification that the existing lanes can thus carry more traffic.

Would not it be better to advocate improved grade separated crossings for pedestrians and cyclists in addition to automobiles?

Why so much dogmatic negativity rather than a more holistic approach that actually addresses the area in question?

Why not call for a new grade separated interchange for Musgrove Road, as well as Fairland Road, with wider sidewalks than that now proposed for the latter?

Indeed, if one wants to really better connect the area, how about a plan for such new grade separated crossings to ultimately flank a new air rights lid atop 29 for new development, built over time in stages?

An Example Of The Essence of Pseudo Progressivism

political thinking designed via class envy 
to get people to go against their interests for the sake of the elites

from the comments section of a January 27, 2015 article at Greater, Greater Washington

Frankly, on-street parking should cost (at least) $3,000/year for a permit. It's grossly unfair that the poor and car-free middle-class have to subsidize the car-owning middle-class and wealthy as they occupy massive amounts of public space at below-market prices. - James

Very true! Clearly the answer is to make parking so expensive that the public space is held entirely by the wealthy. That will definitely solve the problem. -  Scoot

Monday, March 9, 2015

Denver I-70 Lower & Cover Project

I-70 reconstruction project, just east of the interchange with I-25
to replace viaduct segment with trench 
between Brighton and Colorado Boulevards
with 2 block long lid between Columbine and Croyton Streets
next to Swansea Elementary School
to reconnect residential areas
and widen I-70 from 6 to 10 lanes, 
matching rebuilt elevated I-70 segment west to Kalamath Street
past the interchange with I-25

Openly supported by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Monetary cost: $1.8 billion

 Existing Situation Viaduct



Isometric Looking West

Isometric Looking West

Isometric Looking East 
with pedestrian bridge at Josephine Street

Further visualizations:


Denver City Council voted 10-3 in favor, Monday April 7, 2014.

Is the one of two segments of I-70 segment in North Denver east of I-25 that bisects a residential area. (The other was reconstructed in its original elevated configuration in order to cross over the South Platte River.)

Project has opposition from those seeking instead to reroute that portion of I-70 to a triangular I-270/I-76 route, which is said to cost more owing to the longer length, and for that same reason, which would plausibly increase VMT.

Opposition is based upon the displacement of some 50 dwellings, plus fears of flooding in a below ground level freeway, along with ideology to push freeways further out of cities rather than better reconcile them via lowering and covering.

IMHO the deck should be longer, adding 2 blocks length upon each end,
making it extend from York to Milwaukee Streets.  It should at least extend further west to Josephine Street, to move its west portal further from the Swansea Elementary School.

Also, they should cantilever it a bit over the outer I-70 lanes.

If current air pollution issues won't allow that, then the lid should be extended about 70 or so feet in each direction, with additional lid segments further out.

Additional lid segments should be accommodated as future additions with the project designed with the necessary support structure, as done with the Cincinnati Fort Washington Way project.

The sheer number of anti comments against a plan featuring an idea that is generally popular of replacing viaduct freeway segments with lowered-covered one, and a look at a map of the I-270/I-76 suggested re-route in the shape of a cap stone may suggest an organized effort by some Masonic faction.

Anti Site (many useful links):

Friday, March 6, 2015

Barbara Mikulski & Baltimore Freeways - Past, Present & Future


The recent news of Senator Barbara Mikulski announcing her impending retirement, has led me to a few on line discussions about her efforts in stopping or modifying different freeway projects, and by extension, reviewing some of the past planning of the Baltimore Maryland freeways.

Mikulski is perhaps best known for her efforts at stopping the southern-eastern extension of I-83 along the Baltimore waterfront, and the eastern extension of I-70 in western Baltimore through Leakin Park, which was to connect with the stranded east-west trenched freeway formerly designated as I-170 that connects with MLK Boulevard that itself had been once planned as a depressed trench freeway.

Today, I-70, I-83 and I-95 fail to directly connect with each other.

Initially though, all three were meant to connect with 70 and 95 planned to run along the waterfront of the Inner Harbor being intercepted by I-83 from the north- all as elevated designs as featured in the planning in 1960 'Darling' plan.

1960 'Darling' Plan

1960- interchange of 70-83-95

Under that plan, I-83 would have run directly into I-95 south, while I-70 east would have run directly into I-95 north.


This had followed earlier planning that had I-70 potentially follow an east west freeway skirting the northern side of the CBD.


The 1960 'Darling' plan was subsequently followed by the Baltimore "10-D" freeway plan, shown in this 1961 J.E. Greiner Study Report.

A major change in this planning was the deletion of the I-70 segment along the waterfront, having it intercept at a separate interchange than that with I-83 and I-95 along with the deletion of the east west freeway skirting the north side of the CBD.

1962 "10-D" System I-83/I-95 interchange

Opposition to this "10-D" system led to additional modifications of the proposed Baltimore freeway system,, leading to the adaptation of the "3-D" plan.

Two major changes of the "3-A" plan were re-routing I-95 --  away from the Inner Harbor waterfront southward to Fells Point -- and the deletion of the southern extension of I-83 to I-95, replacing that with an extension of I-83 that would turn east along the waterfront -- essentially along the no abandoned I-95 route - to met I-95 further east.

1975 elevated I-83 extension turning east along waterfront

Other changes of the "3-A" plan addressed the down-specing of the north-south connection skirting the eastern side of the CBD.  This included, eliminating the freeway connection between I-83 and the east-west freeway from the west along Franklin and Mulberry Streets that had been planned as I-70; shortening the clearing of the right of way to no longer reach I-83; and building that reduced length corridor not as a depressed freeway, but instead as a surface boulevard subsequently named for Martin Luther King- MLK Boulevard.

Further changes included no longer routing I-70 along the east-west freeway to the MLK corridor, instead renaming that as "I-170" and constructing a southerly continuation of I-70 to connect with I-95 further west.

Another change was the crossing of Gwynn Falls, from the diagonal route through the Rosemont neighborhood, to a route turning south along the west bank of Gwynn Falls before turning northeast along a RR to then meet the Franklin-Mulbery freeway.

10 D northwest diagonal Rosemont and later 3 A southwest diagonal route

"3-A" plan showing I-170 with I-70 connection to I-95


I-95 would be built along the southerly route, and not as a bridge as initially proposed but as a set of tunnels- 4 tubes with 2 lanes apiece to avoid blighting Fort McHenry.

An I-395 viaduct would be built connecting I-95 with the southern end of MLK Boulevard.

A 1.4 mile segment of once planned I-70, opened as I-170 as constructed between Franklin and Mulberry Street- always thankfully planned as a trench that could be conceivably eventually covered, rather than an elevated.  This is the highway that today is often referred as Baltimore's so-called "highway to nowhere".

However, the planned I-70 link from the Franklin-Mulberry freeway to existing I-70 near and past the Beltway would be canceled owing to political opposition to its routing through Leakin Park, which by about 1970 had been planned to include one short cut and cover tunnel segment in the side of a hill.  A subsequent plan to only build the segment from the Franklin-Mulberry Street southward to I-95 renamed as I-595 was likewise canceled during the 1980s, with the stub connectors from I-95 later demolished.

With the planning having strangely abandoned the freeway link between I-83 and I-70/I-170 of what would have been an inner Baltimore beltway downscaled to today's MLK Boulevard  - strangely because they had practically cleared such a corridor anyway for such newer buildings as the Cultural Center, needing to only thread a cut and cover tunnel between the Armory and the Hoard Street RR tunnel --  planning instead focused upon the southerly extension of I-83 to I-95.

Because that plan involved adopting essentially the former I-95 route along the Inner Harbor waterfront- thus meeting the objections that had pushed the I-95 route south, it ended up being canceled, despite the substitution of an insufficiently long tunnel segment.

All of this has got me thinking about alternative designs for connecting these freeways best serving their regional roles in the transportation network:

- Connect I-83 with I-95:

Relocate southern I-83 via Tunnel Connection to and beneath the MLK Boulevard Corridor, with I-83 continued southward there as a cut and cover tunnel towards I-395.  Construct northern tunneled segment along-beneath Howard Street and West Mount Royal Avenue- perhaps with a double stacked tunnel to thread between the Howard Street RR Tunnel and the Armory.  This would finally connect I-83 southward to I-95.

- Continue & Connect I-70 to best serve its role as an east-west link:

Build the link from the Franklin-Mulberry Street freeway west to existing I-70, via one of two basic ways:

Modified Leakin Park routing with most of the route within enclosed tunnels.

Lengthen the once proposed Central Ridge tunnel segment to the northwest 4 to 5 times in length.  

Add another such tunnel segment at the South Ridge along Stokes Drive beneath the once proposed recreational facilities- essentially placing the hillside segments within tunnel, before turning east at the Edmondson Avenue corridor.

Connect the two tunneled segments with an arched bridge across the valley portion, perhaps as an enclosed aerial tunnel concealed at the tops of the arches, beneath a bridge-top promenade that would provide spectacular views of Leakin Park for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Such a plan would greatly mitigate I-70 through Leakin Park itself.

However, the transition across Gwynn Fall is more topographically difficult due to its narrow width and shallow depth- meaning that any bridge crossing would have to have raised approaches, or any tunneled crossing descending sufficiently back

A Stokes Drive tunnel would have to provide for I-70 to rise to meet a bridge to cross over Hilton Parkway, or descend - having sufficient length to do so -- to continue as tunnel beneath and past Gwynn Falls. Then, I-70 would continue upon a diagonal route displacing dwellings in the Rosemont neighborhood in the vicinity of Arunah Avenue for about 2 blocks and the south side of one block of Harlem Avenue before meeting the diagonal west end of Franklin Street. If built as a bridge this would require an elevated approach but with cut and cover tunnel construction, this residential area could be subsequently rebuilt. Such a route would run about one block further west than the routing proposed during the 1960s, and could be further mitigated if permitted to temporarily disturb the northern corner of the graveyard along the south side of Edmondson Avenue.  Such a cut and cover route with restoration atop could use such options as #2 or #3 as shown.

Alternatively, a ridge-top I-70 tunnel initially along Stokes Avenue could turn south along the west bank of Gwynn Falls, displacing the existing grade separated section of Hilton Parkway, and so continue on about the route of the latter past planning, with there being sufficient length to facilitate a transition to a cut and cover tunnel crossing beneath the Gwynn Falls stream valley. If carried to the east side of the RR, this route would displace some dwellings at the end of Kinsey Avenue, a one block segment of Ashurton Street and the end of W Fairmont Avenue; if instead carried to the east side of the RR it would require our cut and cover tunnel to temporarily disturb the southern end of the graveyard. Such a cut and cover tunnel would be longer and this more expensive than one through Rosemont, even with reconstruction and generous financial compensation for those in Rosemont.

Edmondson Avenue tunnel with western approach along or paralleling Cooks Lane.

This could be either via cut and cover or TBM drilled-moled tunneling. 

The latter option would have less surface disruption to construct, and could be done with one or two Seattle 'Bertha' sized tubes, with 2 levels with 2 lanes and 1 shoulder apiece for a total of 4 or 8 lanes.

The recent reconstruction/ lowering of the western end of the Franklin-Mulberry freeway, would be ideal for setting up TBM machinery to drill westwards, and definitely provide sufficient space to drill deep enough to cross beneath Gwynn Falls without disturbing the surface much as the Washington, D.C. WMATA Red line passes deep beneath Rock Creek Park.

Because of the economics of such, it may make more sense for it to follow the Edmondson Avenue-Cooks Lane routing, with a demolition and reconstruction of the existing eastern stub of transcontinental I-70.

- Continue I-70 easterly to ultimately connect with I-95 via east-west freeway, skirting the northern side of the CBD:

Construct as through tunnel downtown beneath MLK Avenue before turning north at Madison Street through parking lots and displacing Maryland Attorney General's Office, then wrapping around northwest side of the Armory Building to turn easterly in tunnel beneath East Preston and or West Mount Royal Avenue to a cut and cover tunnel paralleling the existing railroad tunnel beneath Hoffman Street.  At some point east, this east west freeway would transition to an elevated configuration to connect with I-795, I-95 and I-695.  This would provide far superior freeway network spread and thus serviceability than such along the waterfront.

Decommission existing downtown I-83 segment.  Retain its depressed portion as a covered ramp spur connection to a restored street grid, feeding into a wide boulevard via the right of way of the now elevated segment which would be torn down.

- I-83 is better routed to the west via the MLK corridor, and employing existing viaduct now designated as I-395.

- East-west traffic is better served by a connection via I-70 from Franklin-Mulberry that continues easterly via skirting the northern side of the CBD, before connecting to I-895/I-95 and conceivably I-695, providing far greater connectivity into Baltimore region than an Inner Harbor waterfront freeway that would be more redundant with I-95.

For more Baltimore freeway planning history, see:

Scott Kozel:



Recent newspaper articles:


Engineering Reports:

Study for a East West Expressway  City of Baltimore Planning Commission  January 1960 Phillip Darlng Director

Corridor Development  Baltimore Interstate Highway System 3-A/Segment 10  Urban Design Concept Associates  (Sidmore. Owings & Merrill; J.E. Greiner Company Inc.; Parsons Brinerhoff; Quade & Douglas, Wilber Smith & Associates) December 1970

Other Sources: