Interstate 97

Routing

Interstate 97 is the shortest two-digit Interstate in the 48 contiguous states. With only 17 miles, I-97 also lies wholly within Anne Arundel County. It generally serves as a commuter route between Baltimore and Annapolis.

Two freeways make up the alignment of Interstate 97: the Glen Burnie Bypass (former Maryland 3) to the north and the former eastern extent of Maryland 32 to the south. The north end includes a direct connection with Interstate 895 Spur to the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 97 replaced portions of Maryland 3, which was the northernmost extent of U.S. 301 until 1960, when it was redirected to end at Glasgow, Delaware.

History

During the 1970s, Maryland proposed routes for both Interstate 68 and Interstate 97 in the Annapolis area. I-68 was planned for U.S. 50 between the Capital Beltway and a point west of Annapolis. I-97 was projected for a north-south route from the end of I-68 to the Baltimore Beltway. In addition, the U.S. 50 freeway east from I-68 and I-97 to the present end of I-595, was incorporated as Interstate 197. Interstate 297 was also introduced as the replacement for Maryland 3, from U.S. 50 and 301 north to Maryland 32. AASHTO approved I-97 north of U.S. 50 and I-297 on November 15, 1975. Conditional approval was granted to I-197 and to the I-68 segment as an extension of I-97.

Further changes from Maryland regarding Interstate 97 were submitted to AASHTO on October 3, 1981. Again Interstate 68 was proposed in place of I-97 for the U.S. 50 freeway between the Capital Beltway and the previously referenced point west of Annapolis. The I-197 spur east from there to Maryland 70 was then proposed as Interstate 168. These changes were approved AASHTO by subject to FHWA concurrence. Interstate 197 was never signed, Interstate 297 was never built, and by 1989, both proposed I-68 and 168 were instead renumbered as Interstate 595.

The Glen Burnie Bypass was constructed during the 1960s as a new alignment for Maryland 3. This resulted in the designation of Maryland 3 Business, which still runs east of I-97 along Crain Highway today. The freeway south from the Maryland 3 and 32 intersection to U.S. 50 & 301 opened to traffic in 19891

Construction for Interstate 97 between Dorrs Corner (Maryland 178) and New Cut Road (Exit 12) ran from 1988 to February 13, 1991. The $31-million project wrapped up with the opening of the new northbound lanes through the Millersville area.2

Portions of old Maryland 3 were converted into an east side frontage road (Veterans Highway) along the newly opened Interstate 97 in 1991.2 A traffic light on I-97 at Old Mill Road remained in operation along this stretch until July 2, 1991, as work to convert Veterans Highway to two-way traffic was delayed by six weeks.3

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 595 and U.S. 50/301 - Annapolis, Maryland
Perspective from Interstate 97 south
Interstate 97 southbound at Junction Hidden Interstate 595 and U.S. 50/301. This marks the southern terminus of Interstate 97. Notably, there are empty brackets for an exit tab on the right-hand sign. Photo taken 06/00.
Perspective from Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west/U.S. 301 south
U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 south for miles west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge see this signage for Baltimore area traffic interests. This is the first indication of the southern terminus of Interstate 97. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 southbound, one mile east of Interstate 97/Exit 21. Note that this sign bridge includes panels also for Maryland 665/Exit 22 and Maryland 450/Exit 23B. With that stated, Exit 21 for Interstate 97 departs before Exit 22 for Maryland 665 even though this is facing west. This is because the Interstate 97 beginning from this direction parallels Interstate 595 for a distance before turning northward. Photo taken 06/02/03.
A hairpin turn composes Exit 23 for adjacent Maryland 450 to Crownsville. U.S. 50/301 see several of these types of off-ramps to the adjacent frontage roads. Interstate 97's departure is in one half mile. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Interstate 595/U.S. 50/301 maintain six lanes through the southern terminus of Interstate 97 interchange. This westbound photograph looks at the northbound beginning of the Annapolis to Baltimore freeway. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Wintertime view of Exit 21/Interstate 97 north from Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 south. The next interchange is that of the freeway spur Maryland 665/Aris T. Allen Boulevard. This segment of highway was constructed in conjunction with the Interstate 97 project and features a SPUI (Single Point Urban Interchange). Photo taken by Chris Mason (01/14/03).
A second overhead for Interstate 97 north is posted as the freeway splits from Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 south. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Another wintertime perspective of the southern terminus of Interstate 97. Exit 22 for Maryland 665 departs in the background. This state route serves Parole and Annapolis to the southeast. Photo taken by Chris Mason (01/14/03).
The aforementioned parallel alignment of Interstate 97 north alongside Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 south. Return access to the westbound freeway is granted due to the merge of Maryland 665/Aris T. Allen Boulevard onto the Interstate 97 roadway. In effect, this portion of Interstate 97 acts as a collector/distributor roadway. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Interstate 97 turns to the northwest than north while Maryland 665 traffic wishing to enter Interstate 595/U.S. 50 west and U.S. 301 south depart to the left. Washington D.C. is 20 miles to the west. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Perspective from Interstate 595/U.S. 50 east/U.S. 301 north
Interstate 97 and U.S. 50 overhead on Maryland 450. Before the ramp to north Interstate 97 from east U.S. 50 was constructed, access to Interstate 97 from east U.S. 50 was via Maryland 450 (which parallels U.S. 50). Vidcap taken 07/05/93.
One mile guide sign of Exit 21/Interstate 97 north on Interstate 595/U.S. 50 east/U.S. 301 north. Downtown Baltimore is approximately 25 miles north. Photo taken 06/03/02.
Interstate 595/U.S. 50 east/U.S. 301 northbound approaching the northbound beginning of Interstate 97/Exit 21. The southern terminus interchange of the freeway contains two long connections to Interstate 595 east and west. Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/08/02).
Summertime view of the one-half mile sign bridge of Interstate 97/Exit 21 on Interstate 595 east. The first interchange of Interstate 97 is situated five miles to the north at Waterbury. Photo taken 06/03/02.
Interstate 97 northbound traffic for Baltimore departs Interstate 595 eastbound in this photograph. The city of Annapolis is only three miles to the east from this point, with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge another nine. Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/08/02).
Interstate 97 splitting from Interstate 595/U.S. 50 east/U.S. 301 north as seen during the Summer. Interstate 97 intersects two freeways on its short duration: Maryland 32 at Exit 7 and Maryland 100 at Exit 14. Photo taken 06/03/02.
Interstate 595/U.S. 50 east and U.S. 301 north at the Interstate 97 overpass. Note the brick facade on the bridge itself. This is a common theme in and around Annapolis on the John Hanson Highway. Exit 22 for Maryland 665 is an expressway spur into the city of Annapolis. The interchange with Maryland 2 via Maryland 665 is a SPUI (Single Point Urban Interchange). Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/08/02).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 695 and Spur Interstate 895 - Baltimore, Maryland
Perspective from Interstate 97 north
Three lanes of Interstate 97 progress northward to the final interchange of the intracounty route, Exits 17A/B at Interstate 695. Photo taken 06/02/03.
The mainline of Interstate 97 converts into Spur Interstate 895, a connector between Interstate 695 and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway to the north. This sign bridge advises motorists to the Port of Baltimore area and displays the restrictions in place for the Interstate 895 Harbor Tunnel. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Closer to the northern terminus of Interstate 97, a pull-through panel appears for Spur Interstate 895 with Maryland 648 included. Photo taken 06/02/03.
An overcast winter day on Interstate 97 northbound, one half mile before the terminus at the Baltimore Beltway. Photo taken by Chris Mason (01/14/03).
Two lanes of Interstate 97 are allocated for Interstate 695 westbound to Baltimore and the northern suburb of Towson. Traffic taking Spur Interstate 895 northbound will default onto Interstate 895 northbound through the Harbor Tunnel. Therefore traffic headed to downtown Baltimore is advised to take Interstate 695 west to either Interstate 95 north or Maryland 295/Baltimore-Washington Parkway north. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Traffic utilizing Exit 17B will reach the tolled Francis Scott Key Bridge ($1 per passenger vehicle) in five miles. Interstate 695 also serves the Dundalk and Essex communities in addition to connecting to Interstate 95 northbound for Wilmington, Philadelphia, and New York City. Photo taken by Chris Mason (01/14/03).
Interstate 97 at the sign bridge Pictured in the above two photographs. Note that the lighting fixtures were replaced between 2000 and 2003. Photo taken 06/00.
Departure of Interstate 695 westbound traffic via Exit 17A. Maryland 648 represents the only interchange of Spur Interstate 895 northbound. This ramp is situated just beyond the Exit 17B ramp for Interstate 695 east. Photo taken 06/02/03.
The southern terminus of unsigned Spur Interstate 895 and the northern terminus of Interstate 97. The off-ramp for Maryland 648 is the last chance motorists have before being relegated to traveling northward via Spur Interstate 895 through the Harbor Tunnel toll plaza. Traffic can depart Interstate 895 before entering the tunnel via Exit 8/Frankfurst Avenue. Photo taken 06/00.
The Maryland 648 Ferndale exit also offers an alternative to Interstate 695 west in case one missed the Exit 17A ramp. Traffic continuing northward along Spur Interstate 895 will not see another departure opportunity until four miles to the northeast. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Perspective from Interstate 695 west
Interstate 695 westbound at the northern terminus of Interstate 97/Exit 4. Interstate 97 also serves the communities of Glen Bernie and South Gate. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/98).
Same sign bridge as above on Interstate 695 west. Beltway motorists will continue westward to Maryland 295 in three miles and Interstate 95 in seven miles. Photo taken 07/97.
Perspective from Interstate 695 east
One mile guide signage for Interstate 97 on Interstate 695/Baltimore Beltway eastbound. Exit 6B for Maryland 170, serves the Baltimore Washington International Airport, with connection to the terminal via Interstate 195. Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/01/02).
This auxiliary guide signage for Interstate 97/Exit 4 on Interstate 695 east indicates that the freeway is the best choice for accessing U.S. 301 and Maryland 3. The control points of Bowie, home to the Double A Baysocks minor league team, and Richmond, via U.S. 301 south via the Potomac River toll bridge, are displayed. Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/01/02).
Interstate 97 southbound is a left-exit, and this sign bridge begins the lane allocation for the pending Interstate 695 split. Although access is not granted, traffic on Interstate 97 directly ties into Interstate 895 Spur, a connection to the center city area crossing of the Harbor Tunnel. Photo taken by Tim Reichard (09/01/02).
The next sign bridge for Interstate 97/Exit 4 from Interstate 695 eastbound. This is posted just before the land partition between the two freeways. Note also that Exit 5 for Maryland 648 sneaks into play, with only this sign guiding motorists to Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. Photo taken by Adam Froehlig (2001).
The gore point for Interstate 97 south from Interstate 695 east. Note the reassurance signage, ala the Capital Beltway near Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Adam Froehlig (2001).
It is not uncommon to find Interstate to Interstate connections featuring gore point exit signage such as this. Photo taken on Interstate 695 eastbound by Tim Reichard (09/01/02).

Sources:

  1. MDRoads: I-97.
  2. "New Segment Of I-97 Opens" The Capital (Annapolis), February 17, 1991.
  3. "State Pulls Out All The Stops On I-97" The Capital (Annapolis), July 6, 1991.
  4. "Baltimore Connector Opens." The Capital (Annapolis), March 12, 1991.

Page Updated June 11, 2015.

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