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This 2005 photo shows the westbound I-70 approaching EXIT 91 (I-695 / Baltimore Beltway) in Woodlawn, just west of the Baltimore City line. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)


93.6 miles (150.7 kilometers)

THE BALTIMORE NATIONAL PIKE: The I-70 of today had its origins in the immediate postwar years as a four-lane divided relocation and reconstruction of US 40. Work on building the new US 40 began in 1949 with a roughly 29-mile stretch of four-lane highway from Patrick Street in Frederick east to Pine Orchard (Ellicott City). Over the next seven years, US 40 was upgraded from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided arterial highway. Grade-separated interchanges were built at MD 27 (current EXIT 68), MD 97 (current EXIT 76), and MD 32 (current EXIT 80). The four-lane Baltimore National Pike was completed in 1956 with the opening of the new Jug Bridge, which paralleled the existing Jug Bridge (built in 1944) over the Monocacy River.

THE FREDERICK FREEWAY: Work on the first modern freeway section of what would become I-70 began in 1954. The Frederick Freeway was designed as a bypass of Patrick Street, which was the former alignment of US 40 through downtown Frederick. The original freeway ran west from East Patrick Street (current EXIT 56), then veered north at the Washington National Pike (current EXIT 53 / I-270) and continued north to West Patrick Street (current EXIT 13 on US 15 / Frederick Freeway). This original section of freeway was completed in 1959. The section from East Patrick Street to the Washington National Pike initially was signed as US 40, eventually was signed as I-70N, though the signing as I-70N did not happen for several years.

WESTWARD TOWARD THE PANHANDLE: Work progressed on I-70 through the state of Maryland as follows:

  • 1961: EXIT 3 (US 40 / National Pike) east to EXIT 5 (MD 615 / Millstone Road), all within the town of Hancock. Although this relocated section of US 40 was the first section to be let under contract as part of the Interstate highway system, it was not signed as I-70 until 1962.

  • 1965: EXIT 5 in Hancock east to EXIT 12 (MD 56 / Big Pool Road) in Big Pool.

  • 1966: Pennsylvania-Maryland state line east to EXIT 3 (I-68 / National Freeway) in Hancock. This included the construction of a "directional-Y" interchange with what was originally called the "Appalachia Corridor," or "Corridor E." The Appalachia Corridor became known as the National Freeway by 1968, and the following year it added the US 48 designation. When the National Freeway was completed into West Virginia in 1991, it became known as I-68.

  • 1966: EXIT 12 in Big Pool east to EXIT 18 (MD 68 / Clear Spring Road) in Clear Spring.

  • 1967: EXIT 18 in Clear Spring east to EXIT 26 (I-81) in Hagerstown.

  • 1968: EXIT 26 east to EXIT 32 (US 40 / National Pike), all in the city of Hagerstown.

  • 1969: EXIT 32 in Hagerstown east to EXIT 53 (I-270) in Frederick. At EXIT 53, I-70 joined the original section of the Frederick Freeway, and when the interchange between I-70 and I-270 was completed, the ramps at New Design Road were removed. This interchange marked the original split for I-70N (now I-70) toward Baltimore and I-70S (now I-270) toward Washington.

FROM FREDERICK TO BALTIMORE: With I-70 nearing completion west of Frederick in the late 1960s, the state turned its attention to completing the freeway--which was then called I-70N--east to Baltimore. This construction, a description of which follows, was not completed until the mid-1980s.

  • 1967: EXIT 87 (US 29 / Columbia Pike) in Ellicott City east to EXIT 91 (I-695 / Baltimore Beltway) in Woodlawn.

  • 1969: EXIT 82 (US 40 / Baltimore National Pike) in West Friendship east to EXIT 87 in Ellicott City.

  • 1969: EXIT 91 east to EXIT 94 (Security Boulevard / Cooks Lane), all in the unincorporated community of Woodlawn.

  • 1974: EXIT 59 (MD 144 / Old National Pike) in Bartonsville east to EXIT 82 in West Friendship. This section entailed a controlled-access upgrade of the existing dual-carriageway Baltimore National Pike built in the 1950s. I-70 is signed with US 40 along the entire length of this stretch. New diamond interchanges were built at EXIT 62 (MD 75 / Green Valley Road) in Monrovia and EXIT 73 (MD 94 / Woodbine Road) in Lisbon to replace the existing at-grade intersections, while existing grade-separated interchanges at EXIT 68 (MD 27 / Ridge Road) in Mount Airy), EXIT 76 (MD 97) in Cooksville, and EXIT 80 (MD 32) in West Friendship received additional ramps.

  • 1985: EXIT 56 in Frederick east to EXIT 59 in Bartonsville. This was the final section of I-70 to be completed in Maryland. It was built on new alignment north of the existing four-lane US 40 after more than a decade of planning and environmental studies. Upon the completion of this segment, US 40 was routed onto the new I-70, and the former US 40 was re-designated as an extended MD 144. Along the western half of the bypassed alignment, the westbound lanes, including the old Jug Bridge over the Momocacy River, were abandoned, leaving MD 144 as a two-lane road. At the western end of the bypassed alignment in Frederick, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) built a park-and-ride lot on the former westbound lanes.

I-70 was built with four lanes (two in each direction) from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border east to EXIT 56 (MD 144 / East Patrick Street) in Frederick, and six lanes (three in each direction) from just east of Frederick east to the Baltimore City line. The exception to this is a five-mile-long stretch from EXIT 82 (US 40 / Baltimore National Pike) east to EXIT 87 (US 29 / Columbia Pike), which was built with four lanes (two in each direction). After the original construction was completed, a new interchange was added in 1999 at EXIT 28 (MD 632 / Downsville Pike) in Hagerstown.

This 2004 photo shows the westbound I-70 at EXIT 26 (I-81) in Hagerstown. At this interchange, a pair of collector-distributor (C/D) roads serve the ramps connecting to and from I-81. Conversely, a pair of C/D roads along I-81 serve the ramps connecting to and from I-70. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

A NEW NAME EAST OF FREDERICK: On May 18, 1975, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved the change of the I-70N designation from Frederick east to Baltimore to I-70, although the Maryland SHA began promoting this change on highway signs months earlier. At the same time, the I-70S designation from Frederick southeast into Montgomery County became I-270.

REBUILDING THROUGH FREDERICK: In 1984, the Maryland SHA published a comprehensive study on widening the roadway and improving safety along I-70. The focus of this study covered I-70 from the Mount Philip Road overpass (just east of milepost 50) east to East Patrick Street (MD 144), the current location of EXIT 56 and east of where construction on new alignment was well underway. The primary focus of the study was the original stretch of the Frederick Freeway from EXIT 53 (I-270 SOUTH and US 15 NORTH) east to EXIT 56 (MD 144 / East Patrick Street), which was built in the early days of the Interstate highway system and thus suffered from deficiencies such as inadequate mainline capacity, substandard acceleration and deceleration lanes, tight curve radii, and missing interchange movements.

It took more than a decade from the release of the study for work to begin on improving I-70 through Frederick, but by the mid-1990s, work was underway in at least two locations. Reconstruction work progressed as follows:

  • 1997: New ramps were built at EXIT 52 to connect eastbound I-70 to both directions of US 15. In addition, a loop ramp was built from Ballenger Creek Pike (MD 180 and former MD 351) to eastbound I-70 (via the existing ramp from northbound US 15 to eastbound I-70).

  • 2002: New ramps were built at EXIT 53 to connect westbound I-70 with southbound I-270, and northbound I-270 to eastbound I-70. Just east of EXIT 53, a new overpass was built at New Design Road to accommodate an additional travel lane in each direction on I-70.

  • 2005: A new EXIT 54 was built at an extended MD 85 (East Street). The new single-point-urban interchange, or "SPUI," replaced an older partial-cloverleaf interchange at MD 355 (Market Street). During construction, the ramps were closed at MD 355, and temporary ramps were built along westbound I-70 at New Design Road / Stadium Drive.

  • 2012: I-70 was widened from EXIT 53 (I-270) east to EXIT 56 (MD 144). At EXIT 55 (South Street / Momocacy Boulevard), the ramps to and from eastbound I-70 were rebuilt to remedy tight ramp radii. At EXIT 56, an emergency onramp was built from East Patrick Street to westbound I-70.

The Maryland SHA still has long-range plans to widen I-70 from EXIT 53 west to the Mount Philip Road overpass, a distance of three miles, to six lanes from the existing four lanes. The project, which the state estimated would cost approximately $110 million in 2011, is designed to alleviate congestion on a heavily traveled section of I-70. Planning for the project has been completed and remains in the design stage, as funding remains on hold.

These 2017 photos show the eastbound I-70 at EXIT 82 (US 40 / Baltimore National Pike) and EXIT 87 (US 29 / Columbia Pike). (Photos by David Golub,

According to the Maryland SHA, I-70 carries the following approximate traffic counts per day (AADT):

  • 40,000 AADT from Hancock east to Hagerstown
  • 70,000 AADT from Hagerstown east to Frederick
  • 95,000 AADT in the immediate Frederick area
  • 80,000 AADT from Frederick east to West Friendship
  • 100,000 AADT from West Friendship east to I-695
  • 35,000 AADT from I-695 east to eastern terminus

FUTURE PLANS TO WIDEN WEST, AND NARROW EAST, OF THE BELTWAY: In the early 2010s, the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board recommended widening the remaining four-lane section of I-70 between EXIT 82 and EXIT 87 in Ellicott City to six lanes. The report also recommended adding the missing interchange movements at EXIT 83 (Marriottsville Road): a new exit ramp from eastbound I-70, and a new entrance ramp to westbound I-70.

At the same time, the Maryland SHA and the Maryland Transit Administration cooperated on a proposal to delete the final 3.1 miles of I-70 east of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) for an extension of the proposed Baltimore Metro Red Line light rail west to the US Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) campus in Woodlawn. The joint proposal called for the Red Line to replace the existing westbound lanes of I-70 east of I-695, while the eastbound lanes of I-70 would have been converted into a two-lane road--to be renamed Cooks Boulevard--connecting to Security Boulevard and Woods Lane. It also would have called for converting the existing park-and-ride lot into a Red Line station. To facilitate this, the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials approved Maryland's request to remove I-70 from its official route log in 2014.
However, the Red Line, as well as the conversion of I-70 from its existing freeway configuration, remain inactive proposals following Governor Larry Hogan's 2015 decision not to fund the light rail line.

POTENTIAL CHANGES FOR A MAJOR INTERCHANGE: In 2017, Governor Larry Hogan announced a $100 million project to rebuild the I-70 / I-695 "triple bridges" interchange in Woodlawn. The four-level stack interchange was built in the mid-1960s and is nearing the end of its design life; its current design cannot accommodate not only traffic flows between I-695 and I-70, but also any potential widening of I-695. The interchange redesign is currently in the design stage.

LEFT: This 2017 photo shows the westbound I-70 just west of EXIT 91 (I-695 / Baltimore Beltway). The Maryland SHA posted this sign to show the distances to select major cities along I-70, as well as to the western terminus of I-70 in Cove Fort, UT. RIGHT: This 2017 photo shows the eastbound I-70 approaching EXIT 91. This sign shows the revised official eastern end of I-70 at I-695 per AASHTO, though the I-70 freeway actually continues three miles east to EXIT 94 (MD 122 / Security Boulevard.) (Photos by David Golub,

EARLY PLANNING FOR BALTIMORE'S EXPRESSWAYS: In 1942, with the U.S. involvement in World War II well underway, officials in Baltimore developed plans for an express bypass of the city. The city proposed two separate routes: a tunnel under Franklin Street (which later became US 40 / Franklin-Mulberry Expressway) and an elevated expressway above Pratt Street. Both routes were to have an east-west orientation. The Baltimore City Planning Commission (BCPC) approved this plan in 1943, though this decision was non-binding.

The following year, Robert Moses, who was the master planner for New York's arterial highway system, was hired as a consultant by the BCPC to develop its plans further. Although the plans contemplated parkway-like design treatment for the proposed East-West (Pratt) Expressway and the Franklin (Mulberry) Expressway, and Moses defended his designs by stating they would help defeat urban blight, the BCPC ultimately rejected Moses' plans.

Between 1942 and 1957, city planners developed nine separate plans for a city-wide freeway system. The most prominent of these was developed by City Engineer Nathan Smith in 1945. The "Smith Report," as it soon became known, formed the basis of Baltimore's expressway planning. The core of the plan was comprised of the following three routes, and ultimately was adopted by the Federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) in its 1955 "Yellow Book" proposal for new urban Interstate highway routes:

  • East-West Expressway (comprising I-95 through Baltimore City to the east and north, and what was to have been I-70N from Baltimore City west)
  • Southwest Expressway (comprising I-95 from Baltimore City south)
  • Jones Falls Expressway (comprising I-83)

The Smith Report gained acceptance within the planning community, but local leaders never really warmed to the plan, citing concern that the East-West Expressway in particular would be routed either through downtown Baltimore (via the Inner Harbor alignment) or north of the central business district (via the Biddle Street alignment, which was one mile north of the Inner Harbor alignment). Even without definitive alignments for two of the three routes, the BPR still approved all three routes submitted by the state and city--the East-West, Southwest, and Jones Falls Expressways--as part of the Interstate highway system in 1956.

This 1957 map shows proposed routings for the East-West Expressway, which includes (1) a preferred routing along the edge of the Inner Harbor; (2) a southern alternate routing that was the basis of what later became the "Fort McHenry" alignment of today's I-95; (3) a northern alternate routing that would have taken I-95 north of downtown Baltimore and continued straight west as I-70N; and (4) an inner loop freeway encircling downtown Baltimore. The Jones Falls Expressway (I-83), which was to enter the city from the north, was included in all alternatives. (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning archives.)

BALTIMORE'S RESPONSE TO THE INTERSTATE SYSTEM� THE 10-D PLAN: In 1958, Baltimore mayor Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. named Phillip Darling of the city's planning department. Darling saw the threat posed by the construction of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) in luring business out of the city, and thought it was necessary that the city respond by building radial expressways to not only address the needs of commuters and shippers, but also help the city retain and attract business.

After two years of study, Darling published the report, "A Study for an East-West Expressway," in 1960. The Darling plan maintained the same radial axes as the Smith Report from 15 years earlier, but there were key changes to the plan that represented an initial attempt to balance the needs of the business community with those of residents. All three radial expressways were to have been eight lanes wide.

  • I-70N: Continuing east from the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), I-70N was to have been routed through Leakin Park and Gwynns Falls Park, pass through the Rosemont neighborhood, and head east between Franklin Street and Mulberry Street, the latter part of which the current Franklin-Mulberry Expressway (US 40) stub exists today. I-70N was to then turn south near Pine Street (Martin L. King, Jr. Boulevard) and turn east again to follow an elevated highway just south of Pratt Street. The elevated I-70N was to continue east to the multi-level interchange with I-95 and I-83 at the edge of the Inner Harbor.

  • I-95: Beginning at the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), I-95 was to enter Baltimore along the Southwest Expressway alignment, similar to the current alignment. Beginning in the area of the current EXIT 53 (I-395 / Cal Ripken Way), I-95 was to veer northeast through the South Baltimore and Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhoods on its way to the Inner Harbor, where a 50-foot-high bridge was to cross the Inner Harbor. At the edge the harbor, in the vicinity of Pratt Street and President Street, there was to have been a multi-level interchange between I-95, I-70N (East-West Expressway), and I-83 (Jones Falls Expressway). I-95 was to continue the "East-West Expressway" name east along the "Harbor" alignment through the Fells Point neighborhood. It was to have ended at the current I-895 (Harbor Tunnel Thruway), north of which the existing Harbor Tunnel Thruway would have been widened from four to eight lanes north to the thruway's terminus at US 40. (The I-95 designation was to continue north as the Northeast Expressway / John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, as it does today.

  • I-83: The Jones Falls Expressway, which already was under construction when the 10-D Report was released, was to enter Baltimore as it does today, though it was to have continued as an elevated highway along President Street to the I-83 / I-95 / I-70N interchange.

The 10-D "harbor route" alignment was preferred over the north-of-downtown alignment proposed in 1957, as it would have required the removal of 3,187 dwelling units, four business buildings, and no churches for the 10-D alignment, versus 5,582 dwelling units, 18 business buildings, and six churches for the northerly alignment. The cost difference between the 10-D and northerly alternatives was nominal; the estimated cost was about $225 million for the 10-D alignment, versus $194 million for the northerly alignment.

This map shows the original 10-D expressway plan devised by the Baltimore City Department of Planning. Note how I-95, I-70N, and I-83 were to converge at a major interchange at the northeast corner of the Inner Harbor. (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning Archives.)

This illustration shows the major interchange between I-95, I-70N, and I-83 that was proposed for the northeast corner of the Inner Harbor under the original 10-D plan. View is toward the northwest. (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning Archives.)

AN INITIAL ALTERNATIVE TO 10-D: The city hired a locally-based consortium called Expressway Consultants to review Darling's 10-D proposal. The consortium was comprised of J.E. Greiner Company, which worked on the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the William Preston Lane Jr.-Chesapeake Bay Bridge; Remmel, Klepper & Kahl, which worked on the Baltimore Beltway, and Knoerle, Graef, Bender & Asssociates, which worked on the Jones Falls Expressway.

The key differences between the Expressway Consultants plan and Darling's 10-D plan were as follows:

  • I-70N: Beginning at the I-95 (Southwest Expressway) interchange, I-70N was to head northwest toward the Franklin-Mulberry alignment, then head west toward Leakin Park and the current alignment for I-70.

  • I-95: The route was to enter the city as the Southwest Expressway, but was to continue on a straight line northeast toward Carroll Park then veer east in the area of Carey Street en route to the Inner Harbor. There was to have been an interchange with the East-West Expressway (I-70N) in the area of Scott Street. I-95 was to cross the Inner Harbor between Federal Hill and Fells Point on a 50-foot-high bridge, then intersect with the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) at President Street in the Fells Point neighborhood. I-95 was then to continue east roughly along Eastern Avenue, Boston Street, and O'Donnell Street to the Harbor Tunnel Thruway, where it was to continue north along the Harbor Tunnel Thruway alignment to the Northeast Expressway.

  • I-83: Beginning at I-95 in the Fells Point neighborhood, I-83 was to have been built along the eastern edge of the Inner Harbor, then north along President Street toward the current I-83 alignment.

The Expressway Consultants alternative addressed concerns about routing the East-West Expressway along the northern edge of the Inner Harbor, including the need to fill in parts of the harbor. However, neither alternative addressed concerns about the effects of the I-95 Inner Harbor bridge and approach viaducts in the Federal Hill and Fells Point neighborhoods. Moreover, neither proposal addressed environmental concerns about the I-70N section of the East-West Expressway through Leakin Park. By the mid-1960s, groups favoring the 10-D proposal and those favoring the Expressway Consultants proposal had reached an impasse.

This map shows Expressway Consultants' response to the 10-D plan devised by the Baltimore City Planning Department. Under this plan, I-95 would have avoided downtown Baltimore, while there would have been separate interchanges with I-70N (East-West Expressway) and I-83 (Jones Falls Expressway). (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning Archives.)

This illustration shows the major interchange between I-95 and I-83 that was proposed for the eastern edge of the Inner Harbor under the Expressway Consultants alternative. View is toward the northwest. (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning Archives.)

COLLABORATING FOR A BETTER SOLUTION: In response to concerns expressed by pro-expressway groups and community advocates, the City of Baltimore and the Bureau of Public Roads (later the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA]) collaborated on a new technique of highway planning which included participation by the public in the planning stages of a project and consideration of public comments for proposed plans. This technique is commonplace in modern highway planning, but was a novel concept in the 1960s.

What emerged from this collaboration was the Urban Design Concept Associates (UDCA), known internally as the "Concept Team," which was formed in 1966 from Expressway Consultants (which had worked earlier on an alternative to the 10-D plan), two technical consulting firms (Parsons, Brinckeroff, Quade & Douglas and Wilbur Smith & Associates), architects from Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and other experts. In early 1969, the UDCA published their reasoning for developing a new highway plan as follows:

While environmental and social factors had been previously considered in expressway planning, it was not until major parts of urban Interstate roads were finished, or being finished in other cities, that their impact on the environment and socioeconomic structure of the cities could be assessed. These impacts, which were more severe in fact than in plan, alerted city, state, and Federal officials to the need for a new approach to urban freeway design.

In response to these concerns, the City of Baltimore and the Federal Highway Administration (then the Bureau of Public Roads) pioneered a technique of highway planning which included participation by the public in the planning stages of a project and consideration of public comments for proposed plans. The task was to seek methods that would preserve the physical and environmental qualities of the city and at the same time provide the needed transportation network. Baltimore's solution was to establish a multi-disciplinary team consisting of experts in the fields of highway engineering, planning, architecture, and urban planning, as well as specialists in sociology, housing, and systems analysis. The UDCA, known as the "Design Team," was charged with the task of designing a highway system that would� "provide for the social, economic, and aesthetic needs of the city's environment, as well as provide an efficient transportation facility.

INTRODUCING THE 3-A PLAN: On August 22, 1968, the UDCA team presented to the City/State Policy Advisory Board the results of its traffic analysis of the 10-D plan, as well as five other alternate proposals. It was in this analysis that a southern bypass of the Inner Harbor area was first proposed for I-95, as well as a hybrid freeway-and-boulevard built from the southern bypass north along the western edge of the Inner Harbor to downtown (shown in planning maps as the "Sharp-Leadenhall Corridor"). The southern bypass was to serve primarily through traffic, as a study from Wilbur Smith & Associates found that 43% of traffic on the route would be through traffic that had neither an origin nor a destination in downtown Baltimore.

Although the early plans kept an "East-West Expressway" through downtown, the southern bypass theoretically was seen as a second "East-West Expressway." The double East-West Expressway plan became known as the "3C"-plan. However, the proposed southerly bypass, along with the freeway-and-boulevard spur, would provide downtown access without having to build a new Interstate highway downtown. The plan without the East-West Expressway through downtown, and only the southern bypass, became known as the "3-A" plan.

On December 22, 1968, Mayor Thomas D'Allesandro, the father of future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, decided on the 3-A plan after a two-and-one-half hour closed-door meeting with the UDCA team, and that he would seek Federal financing for the plan. The plan was to cost $600 million, with the Federal government paying $500 million of the cost, though it was not a traditional 90% Federal reimbursement because the plan included surface-level boulevards that were not eligible for Interstate funding. Nevertheless, the plan was seen as a victory as the 3-A plan saved $60 million, and spared as many as 1,400 homes, relative to the 3-C plan that initially had been favored by the UDCA team. The FHWA gave final approval to the 3-A expressway plan on January 17, 1969.

In its final report published in December 1970, the UDCA team gave its blessing to the 3-A plan as follows:

The 3-A System is based on the fundamental principle that the heart of the city, the Central Business District (CBD) and its immediate environs, should continue to serve as the center of commerce and culture of the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. As such, the highway network should maximize accessibility to the CBD, but minimize impacts by routing "through" traffic around this area through other corridors.

This principle dictates the separation of local CBD-destined traffic from "through" traffic and required major changes in the 10-D System, including the following:

  • Reduction in size and type of facility in the Inner City. Rather than I-95 and I-70N passing through the Inner City, a non-Interstate "City Boulevard" (now Martin L. King, Jr. Boulevard) was proposed which would ring the CBD and utilize existing at-grade city streets.

  • Extension of I-70N southerly to connect to I-95 and provide a through route from the west which bypasses the CBD.

  • Elimination of the I-95 bridge across the Inner Harbor.

  • Provision of three freeway "spurs" to carry local traffic to and from the CBD: I-395, I-170, and I-83. I-395 will be a spur from I-95 serving traffic to and from the south of the city. I-170 is to be a spur from I-70N serving traffic to and from the west, while I-83, when complete, will be a route between I-695 and I-95 serving traffic to and from the north and east, but also functioning as two spurs.

This map shows the final routing for I-70N (East-West Expressway) as proposed under the 1969 3-A expressway plan. Under this plan, I-70N was to have entered Baltimore from the west through Leakin Park, then turned south through Gwynns Falls Park before ending at I-95. An interchange was to have been built for I-170 (Franklin-Mulberry Expressway). I-70N was redesignated I-70 in 1975. I-70 was canceled northwest of I-170 in 1981, and southeast of I-170 in 1983. (Map from City of Baltimore-Department of Planning Archives.)

THE BATTLE OF LEAKIN AND GWYNNS FALLS PARKS: The right-of-way for I-70N was estimated to take about 150 of the 1,200 acres in both parks, and this itself posed a challenge, as legislation passed in 1966--the so-called "Section 4(f)" law--prohibited any Federal government agencies from using land from public parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and historic properties unless there was no "feasible and prudent" alternative. With this in mind, the UDCA, in conjunction with I-70N construction, planned to improve both parks with the construction of three swimming pools, 27 new miles of trails, tennis courts, baseball fields, picnic areas, and a daycare center. In planning I-70N through Leakin and Gwynns Falls Parks, the UDCA team went a step further by proposing that the Federal government pay for 90 percent of the cost of improving both parks, which was the same percentage that the Federal government paid for Interstate highway construction. These improvements would have added to the estimated $141 million cost just for completing I-70N.

Despite the UDCA's planned park improvements, conservationists fought vigorously to stop the 4.8-mile-long I-70N extension. In 1971, the Sierra Club joined with several local conservationist groups to stop construction of the eight-lane freeway, citing the potential for incremental pollution and blight. On March 15, 1972, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Meyer Cardin ruled that the city had the right to use parkland for I-70N, though added that a more workable solution would be what the UDCA team proposed: having the Federal government compensate the city for building not only I-70N, but also associated park improvements. This ruling was overruled on June 8, 1972, when US District Court Judge James Miller, Jr. ordered a stop to construction until new environmental studies were undertaken, and additional public hearings were held. (Before one of the public hearings held in December 1972, one of the opponents of the I-70N project was shot and killed in a robbery attempt in front of the hearing site at Edmondson High School.)

By the end of the 1970s, Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who had supported construction of I-70 (as it was now called) since its inception, began to waver in his view. The mayor continued to voice public support for the completion of Baltimore's Interstate highway mileage, but according to The Baltimore Sun, he was "not that wild" about building I-70 through Leakin Park, and began to ask highway planners to consider alternatives that would emphasize mass transit.

The construction of I-70 was dealt a blow in 1980 when the influential Greater Baltimore Committee withdrew support for the freeway, whose cost had tripled in the prior decade to $526 million, and the committee's executive chairman, William Boucher III, said "those funds should be and must be transferred to mass transit." On March 19, 1981, Mayor Schaefer finally relented to growing public opinion and stated his opposition to completing I-70.

This 2010 photo shows the eastern terminus of I-70 at the park-and-ride lot looking west toward EXIT 94 (Security Boulevard and Cooks Lane) and the start of westbound I-70. The freeway was stopped east of this point in 1981. This point now serves as a trailhead for the 15-mile-long Gwynns Falls Trail. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

AFTER I-70 EXTENSION CANCELED, A LAST-DITCH EFFORT TO EXTEND I-170: In light of the growing unpopularity of the proposed I-70 extension through Leakin Park, as well as the lack of politically viable alternate alignments, Governor Harry Hughes and Mayor Schaefer requested withdrawal of I-70 east of Security Boulevard on July 28, 1981. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved this request on September 3, 1981.

With I-70 canceled, the city and state went forward with an alternative proposal that would extend the I-170 extension to Gwynns Falls, then extend the route south to I-95 via the remaining 2.2-mile-long former alignment of I-70 that had not been canceled. This former I-70 alignment, as well as the existing and proposed sections of I-170, was to assume a new designation: I-595. Although the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved the new designation in November 1982, no I-595 signs ever appeared on the completed section of I-170.

In January 1983, the city's Interstate highway division submitted a draft environment impact statement for the proposed I-595. The report presented three different freeway alternative, with a fourth alternative designed as a connecting boulevard. All of the alternatives would have assumed the I-70 / I-170 right-of-way, as well as a directional-T interchange with I-95. However, the freeway alternatives featured a grade-separated diamond interchange with US 1 (Wilkens Avenue) and MD 144 (Frederick Avenue), as well as a new connection to an extended Hilton Parkway. Cost estimates ranged from $140 million for the boulevard to $200 million for the most expensive freeway alternative, though only the freeway alternatives offered 90 percent Federal reimbursement for the cost.

The I-595 proposal never garnered much support, particularly as I-395 (Cal Ripken Way) already provided a direct access route to downtown Baltimore from I-95. On July 22, 1983, Governor Hughes and Mayor Schaefer requested withdrawal of I-595 from the Interstate System.  The FHWA and Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA) approved the withdrawal on September 29, 1983, with the funds earmarked for I-595 reallocated for transit improvements.

This 1983 map shows the final incarnation of I-70 as a stub route, I-595, connecting I-95 with the already completed I-170 (now US 40). I-595 through Lower Gwynns Falls was canceled toward the end of 1983. (Map © 1983 by H.M. Gousha Company.)

WIDENING FOR A LESS CONGESTED I-70: I-70 should be widened to a continuous six lanes--three in each direction--from EXIT 24 (MD 63) in Williamsport east to EXIT 53 (I-270) in Frederick. It also should be widened to a continuous eight lanes--four in each direction--from EXIT 80 (MD 32 / Future Patuxent Freeway Extension) in West Friendship east to EXIT 91 (I-695 / Baltimore Beltway) in Woodlawn. The proposed I-70 / I-695 interchange reconstruction should take potential future widening of not only I-695, but also I-70 into consideration.

SOURCES: "Expressway Pool Plan Announced" by Louis O'Donnell, The Baltimore Sun (3/17/1945); "Plans To Push Expressway," The Baltimore Sun (8/07/1947); "Expressway Leg Protest Is Seen," The Baltimore Sun (4/02/1965); "Route Is Set on East-West Expressway," The Baltimore Sun (10/19/1968); "Group Supports Road Route Rejected by Design Team," The Baltimore Sun (12/08/1968); "Mayor's Route Choice Averts Harbor Span, Bypasses Rosemont" by John B. O'Donnell, Jr., The Baltimore Sun (12/24/1968); Transportation, Environmental, and Cost Summary: An Evaluation of Three Concepts for Expressway Routes in Baltimore City, Urban Design Concept Associates (1968); "City's 3-A Route Wins Approval of US Agency" by John B. O'Donnell, Jr., The Baltimore Sun (1/18/1969); "Three New East-West Routes Studied" by Kathy Kraus, The Baltimore Sun (5/20/1970); "Park Improvement Is Proposed," The Baltimore Sun (7/16/1970); "New Boulevard Proposed for Downtown," The Baltimore Sun (8/10/1970); "Conservationists Sue To Keep I-70 Out of Leakin, Gwynns Falls Parks," The Baltimore Sun (10/13/1971); "Baltimore Interstate Highway System 3-A: Facts and Features," Urban Design Concept Associates (1971); "Judge Blocks Park Route for Road, Orders Hearings" by James D. Dilts, The Baltimore Sun (6/09/1972); "Father of 13 Dies; Was Shot on Way to Expressway Parley," The Baltimore Sun (1/07/1973); "Park Unit Bars I-70 Plan Shift," The Baltimore Sun (1/25/1973); "Debate and Discussion: Leakin Park, a Disputed Highway Route" by Douglas S. Tanwey and George L. Sheper, The Baltimore Sun (2/07/1976); "Leakin Park Expressway Plans To Be Revived," The Baltimore Sun (3/05/1977); "Mayor Backs Road Plans, but Voices Doubts on I-70" by Antero Pietila, The Baltimore Sun (12/08/1979); "I-70 Plans Lose GBC's Results" by Antero Pietila, The Baltimore Sun (3/11/1980); "Funds Short for Leakin, I-83 Routes" by Antero Pietila, The Baltimore Sun (5/06/1980); "Mayor Seeks To Divert I-70 Plans" by Eileen Canzian, The Baltimore Sun (3/20/1981); "$200 Million for I-70 May Go to Subway Line" by Tom Linthicum, The Baltimore Sun (9/05/1981); "City Weighing Gwynns Falls Interstate Plan" by David Brown, The Baltimore Sun (1/23/1983); Transportation Improvements in the Interstate 595 Corridor from I-95 to I-170: Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Federal Highway Administration, Maryland Department of Transportation-State Highway Administration, and Interstate Division for Baltimore City (1983); "Plan Would Lop Off Eastern Stub of Interstate 70" by Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun (10/11/2011); "Transportation Outlook 2035: Creating a Blueprint for Baltimore's Future," Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (2013); "Maryland Designates $461 Million To Ease Traffic Jams on Baltimore Beltway" by Justin Rice, Mid-Atlantic Construction News (12/20/2017); Maryland Department of Transportation; Scott Kozel; Alex Nitzman; Mike Pruett; Douglas A. Willinger.

  • I-70, I-70N, I-83, and I-170 shields by Scott Colbert.
  • I-95 and I-595 shields by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightposts by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.





  • I-70 (Maryland) exit list by Steve Anderson.

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