I-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. Connecting U.S. 50/301 (John Hansen Highway) with Interstate 695 along the Baltimore Beltway, 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 MD 3) to the north, and the former eastern extent of MD 32 to the south. The north end includes a direct connection with I-895 Spur to the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.
Interstate 97 replaced portions of MD 3, which was the northernmost extent of U.S. 301 until 1960, when it was redirected to end at Glasgow, Delaware.
During the 1970s, Maryland proposed routes for both I-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 to south route from the end of I-68 to the Baltimore Beltway. In addition, the freeway along U.S. 50 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 MD 3, from U.S. 50/301 north to MD 32. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (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 MD 70 was then proposed as Interstate 168. These changes were approved AASHTO by subject to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concurrence. Interstate 197 was never signed, Interstate 297 was never built, and by 1989, both proposed I-68 and I-168 were instead renumbered as Interstate 595.
The Glen Burnie Bypass was constructed during the 1960s as a new alignment for MD 3. This resulted in the designation of MD 3 Business, which still runs east of I-97 along Crain Highway. The freeway south from the MD 3/ 32 intersection to U.S. 50/301 opened to traffic in 19891
Construction for Interstate 97 between Dorrs Corner (MD 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 MD 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
I-97 first appeared in the 1989 edition of the Rand McNally North American Road Atlas.
Interstate 97 was constructed as a stand alone freeway parallel to MD 178 southeast from MD 3/32 to U.S. 50/301. The remainder replaced MD 3 along both Crain Highway and the Glen Burnie Bypass.