This 2010 photo shows the ramp from northbound I-95 at EXIT 60 (Moravia Road) in Baltimore. A stub ramp--blocked off by Jersey barriers on the right--was to extend to the northbound Windlass Freeway (MD 149), and for much of the 1970s and 1980s, the sign on the right read "FUTURE EXIT ONLY" in anticipation of the freeway. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
DESIGNED TO RELIEVE CONGESTION ON I-95: As proposed in the 1964 Baltimore Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (BMATS), which incorporated the city's aggressive "10-D" expressway construction program, the seven-mile-long Windlass Freeway was to parallel I-95 from the then-proposed Moravia Road interchange (now EXIT 60 on I-95) at the Baltimore city line northeast to MD 43 (White Marsh Boulevard) in Middle River, Baltimore County. The Windlass Freeway was to revive the old MD 149 designation that had been removed from nearby Ebenezer Road--a local road through the area--in 1960.
One 1964 map suggested the Windlass Freeway was to be extended further northeast--toward an extension of Bird River Road--as part of a redevelopment of the Middle River area. Another map from that era proposed a conceptual extension to the west--called the "Cold Spring Freeway"--that was to form the northern arc of an "Inner Loop" that would have connected I-95 with I-83 and I-70. This extension would have been routed along Moravia Road, Cold Spring Lane, and Hilton Street.
Through much of the 1960's, the State Roads Commission (SRC) favored building the Patapsco Freeway instead of the Windlass Freeway, with the intention of incorporating the Patapsco into an extended Baltimore Beltway. According to state maps published at the time, the Patapsco Freeway designation extended as far north as the I-695 / MD 702 (Southeast Boulevard / Freeway) junction in Essex, while there was no hint of the proposed Windlass Freeway. The Regional Planning Council (RPC), an independent state agency, drafted a "Suggested Development Plan" in 1967 that included the Windlass Freeway, but funds were not allocated for this freeway, with the exception of a 1.5-mile-long stretch that ultimately was incorporated into the Baltimore Beltway (then MD 695, now I-695).
Contracts for building the initial section of the Windlass Freeway--a 1.5-mile-long stretch that ultimately was incorporated into the Baltimore Beltway (then MD 695, now I-695)--went out in 1970. Although not officially on near-term state plans, the SRC made provisions for future extensions of the Windlass Freeway at the unbuilt EXIT 37 on I-695, where there are stub roadways and a wide median, and at EXIT 36 (MD 702) on I-695, where there are roadway and ramp stubs. This section was opened to traffic in 1973.
In 1972, prior to the opening of the "beltway" section of the Windlass Freeway, the SRC unveiled a 20-year construction plan for highway development that brought the Windlass back onto formal state plans. The configurations for the western and eastern sections were as follows:
WESTERN SECTION: 1.6 miles from I-95 (EXIT 60) in Baltimore to I-695 (unbuilt EXIT 36) in Rosedale, near Batavia Park and Chesaco Avenue. It was to be built as a four-lane freeway, with a wide median to allow for the construction of two additional travel lanes in the future. It was estimated to accommodate 50,000 vehicles per day (AADT) by the mid-1990s. The estimated cost of this section was $13 million.
EASTERN SECTION: 4.2 miles from I-695 (EXIT 37 / MD 702) in Essex to MD 43 in Middle River. Like the western section, this section was to be built as a four-lane freeway, with a wide median to allow for the construction of two additional travel lanes in the future. It was estimated to accommodate 35,000 vehicles per day by the mid-1990s. The estimated cost of this section was $24 million.
By the mid-1970s, the State Highway Administration (SHA), the successor to the SRC, focused its attention on completing the Interstate highway network in Baltimore City, leaving lower-priority route like the Windlass Freeway devoid of funding. In 1977, the RPC drafted that eliminated many of the freeways recommended in the 1964 BMATS plan and the 1967 "Suggested Development Plan," shifting the focus of development in favor of the Baltimore Metro and other mass transit. With the formal adoption of the plan in 1978, the Windlass Freeway was canceled.
Just before EXIT 36 (MD 702 / Southeast Boulevard) on the northbound Baltimore Beltway (I-695) in Rosedale--as shown in this 2004 photo--a stub section of roadway hints at the unbuilt northerly extension of the Windlass Freeway (MD 149). (Photo by Alex Nitzman, www.aaroads.com.)
SOURCES: Multi-Purpose Centers for the Baltimore Region: Traffic Analysis, Alan M. Vorhees and Associates, Inc. (1964); "Road Unit's Plan Decried," The Baltimore Sun (3/14/1966); "Road, Tunnel Choices Tied," The Baltimore Sun (9/13/1967); "Contracts Given for Nine Projects," The Baltimore Sun (2/01/1970); "Maryland 20-Year Highway Program (1977-1996)," Maryland State Highway Administration (1972); "Major Transportation Milestones in the Baltimore Region Since 1940," Baltimore Metropolitan Council (2006); Alex Nitzman; Mike Pruett.
MD 149 shield by Scott Colbert. Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.