Interstate 695 Maryland

Interstate 695 fully encircles the city of Baltimore. A short and congested overlap coincides the route with Interstate 83 near Towson.

Routing

One of Baltimore's most heavily traveled highways, Interstate 695 encircles the city as both a busy commuter route and a truck bypass. Mid-2004s construction saw the northern portion of the beltway widened to eight lanes, with new sound barriers installed. The former super-two section of Interstate 695 (at one time posted as Maryland 695) near Sparrows Point was widened to four lanes by 1999. Milepost 0 is at the tolled Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was also the last section of the loop to open.

The mileage figure for I-695 reflects only 30.57 miles of the 51.46 mile Beltway as Interstate 695. Per the 2002 AADTS Report by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, the Baltimore Beltway south of the east parent junction at Exit 33 to Exit 4 with Interstate 97 near Glen Burnie, a distance of 21 miles, is still designated as Maryland 695.

The state of Maryland converted its freeway exit numbering system from a sequential based system to a mileage based system during the mid 1980s. The Baltimore Beltway was not included in the renumbering plan due to the close proximity of interchanges.

History

Began as a county project, the Baltimore beltway originated in planning as early as 1949. Taken over by the state in 1953 and added to the Interstate system by 1956, the beltway was three quarters complete by 1962. Portions of two other freeway projects (the Windlass and Patapsco Freeways) were incorporated into the southeastern quadrant by 1974.2


The official route of Interstate 695 ran along the northern portion of the Baltimore Beltway. The route was lengthened from south of Baltimore to the Anne Arundel Expressway (Maryland 10) as approved by AASHTO on November 15, 1975. The Francis Scott Key Bridge was the final piece of the overall beltway, opening in 1977 as a toll facility, but with two lane approaches from each side.2 The southeastern quadrant of the beltway is signed as I-695, but officially is Maryland 695.

$800 million in funds was thought to be needed for Interstate 695 expansion in the early 2000s. One of the methods in which transportation officials contemplated aiding in covering the costs wais the introduction of HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes for the Baltimore Beltway. Under this plan, lanes were to be added to Interstate 695 that entailed a user fee or toll. A variable rate for the tolls would be based upon traffic congestion. The goal was to widen Interstate 695 from six to eight lanes between Interstate 83 and Interstate 95 on the northeast side of the city and Interstate 95 and Security Boulevard (exit north of Interstate 70) on the southwest side of the city. Implentation of HOT lanes never came to pass on the Baltimore Beltway, but did along Interstate 95 east of the city.

Other projects undertaken for Beltway expansion include the Liberty Road interchange (Exit 18) reconstruction and addition of a southbound lane between Frederick Road (Exit 13) and Interstate 95 (Exit 11). Completion of these elements of construction occurred during 2004. In a related project to Interstate 695, Maryland 43, better known as White Marsh Boulevard, was extended east to Eastern Avenue (Maryland 150) by 2006. Maryland 43 cuts the corner between the Interstate 95 and 695 interchange east of the city.1

Highway Guides

Beltway Milepost 0 - Francis Scott Key Bridge - south Baltimore, Maryland
The west end of the Francis Scott Key Bridge represents the location of milepost 0 for the Interstate 695 Baltimore Beltway. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/99).
The Francis Scott Key Bridge crosses the Patapsco River. Mileposts for Interstate 695 count upwards as the Beltway travels clockwise from the crossing. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/99).
Perspective from Interstate 695 west
Approaching the Francis Scott Key Bridge toll plaza along what was a two-lane stretch of the Baltimore Beltway west from the Sparrows Point area of southeast Baltimore County. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/99).
Descending westbound on the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Interstate 695 briefly enters the city limits of Baltimore on this stretch. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/99).
South Parent Junction - Interstate 95 - Arbutus, Maryland
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Approaching Exits 50A/B of Caton Avenue (Alternate U.S. 1) on Interstate 95 southbound. Interstate 695/Exits 49B/A will be reached in two miles. Through this stretch of highway Interstate 95 maintains eight lanes. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Interstate 95 is orientated in an east-west fashion through much of Baltimore, including on the 1.25 mile approach to Interstate 695. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Nearing the western parent junction of Interstate 95/695 on Interstate 95 southbound. The southbound beltway off-ramp departs from Interstate 95 on the left. I-70 connects to Interstate 695 five miles to the north at a symmetrical stack interchange. Photo taken 06/02/03.
A lane drop occurs along I-95 south at Exit 49B for Interstate 695 north to Catonsville and Towson. The southbound control cities for the Beltway include Annapolis and Glen Burnie for the connection to Interstate 97. Photo taken 06/02/03.
A pair of original button copy signs remained on this sign bridge at Interstate 695. The space allocated below Washington on the pull-through panel used to display Richmond. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Another button copy sign for Interstate 695 southbound was in place at the departure of Exit 49A. I-95 continues south two miles to Interstate 195 at Exit 47A. Photo taken 06/02/03.
North Parent Junction - Interstate 95 - near White Marsh, Maryland
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Interstate 95 southbound at the eastern junction with Interstate 695. Interstate 895 shields are posted within this interchange due to the close proximity to the southbound beginning of the Harbor Tunnel Thruway. This interchange has the unusual distinction where Interstate 95 travel lanes overlap each other to allow for access ramps to the Baltimore Beltway. Photo taken 06/97.
Perspective from Interstate 695 north
Button copy overhead on Interstate 695 northbound for Interstate 95. New York is the preferred control city for Interstate 95 north throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. Vidcap taken 09/93.
Perspective from Interstate 695 south
Interstate 695 reduces to two southbound lanes at Exits 33A/B - Interstate 95. Interstate 695 sees its lightest traffic volumes on the southeast quadrant of the Baltimore Beltway. Photo taken 06/02/03.
One half mile north of Exit 33A/Interstate 95 southbound on Interstate 695 south. Downtown Baltimore is ten miles to the west while Washington D.C. is approximately 44 miles to the south. Photo taken 06/02/03.
Two lanes facilitate travel to Interstate 95 southbound. Interstate 695 continues southeast to Maryland 702, the Southeast Expressway, before turning southward to Essex and Dundalk. Photo taken 06/02/03.

Sources:

  1. "Tolls may help fund Beltway expansion." Baltimore Sun, November 14, 2003.
  2. MDRoads: I-695.

Page Updated May 27, 2015.

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