Interstate 895 constitutes a nearly 15 mile route parallel to Interstate 95 through the city of Baltimore. Known as the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Thruway, the Interstate is a toll road with the exception of the stretch between Exit 12 (Lombard Street) and the north end at Interstate 95. I-895 provides a viable alternative to the often congested Fort McHenry Tunnel of Interstate 95, with the exception that the Harbor Tunnel is prohibited to trucks because of a 13 foot 16 inch height restriction at the Patapsco River under crossing.
Cash toll rates at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel increased from $1.00 to $2.00 per passenger vehicle between June 2003 and 2004 and again to $3.00 on November 1, 2011. A further increase to $4 per passenger vehicle took take place on July 1, 2013. Discounts were applied to Maryland based E-ZPass accounts on July 1, 2015. 1957 tolls were set at just 40 cents.
Construction previously scheduled from 2016 to 2021 replaces the structurally deficient Canton Viaduct of I-895 north of the Harbor Tunnel. Costing $189 million, the three year project kicked off in November 2018.5 The 60-year old structure will be razed and replaced with a new 3,300 foot roadway meeting modern safety standards. Additional work in the four-stage project replaces the Holabird Avenue off-ramp and involves repairs to the tunnel roadway approaches and retaining walls. I-895 will stay open during work, but with reduced capacity and 11 foot wide lanes.1
A separate $48.5 million project commenced on August 18, 2016 to repair the Interstate 895 bridge across the Patapsco River Flats. Staged closures through Summer 2019 resulted in two-way traffic on southbound then on northbound as crews replaced the bridge deck and superstructure, and reduced the number of bridge joints. Work affected I-895 between Exit 4 (MD 295) and Exit 6 (I-895 Spur).2
Interstate 895 Spur
A two-pronged spur of Interstate 895 connects the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Thruway with both Interstate 97 (Glen Burnie Bypass) south and Maryland 2 (Ritchie Highway) south in Anne Arundel County. These roadways opened in 1957 to feed traffic to the Harbor Tunnel from the Glen Burnie area and Baltimore Beltway. The Maryland State Highway Administration classifies these spur routes as Interstate 895A and 895B, though neither are signed in the field. Instead signs posted along the freeways simply refer to the routes they connect with.
The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel opened to traffic on November 29, 1957 at a cost of $130 million. The Tunnel Thruway, including the K-Truss Bridge over the CSX Railroad yard, opened west to U.S. 1 (Washington Boulevard) and east to U.S. 40 (Pulaski Highway) in 1957.3 This includes the Canton Viaduct, which cost $6.6 million and took two years to build.1 A northward extension to the then-Northeast Expressway (JFK Memorial Highway) at the Baltimore city line followed in 1963. 1973 work saw the completion of the Thruway to Interstate 95 at Elkridge.3
The Harbor Tunnel Thruway was the default route of Interstate 95 until it was completed through the Fort McHenry Tunnel on November 23, 1985. Preceding that opening, Maryland officials requested the previously undesignated route to be added to the Interstate system. Interstate 895 shields began appearing in the early 1980s.3
Speed limits along the portion of Interstate 895 west of the Baltimore city line were increased to 65 miles per hour by 2010. Work at the north end between late 2007 and 2011 reconfigured the wye interchange so that movements between Interstates 95 and 895 now merge or depart from the right. This work was undertaken as part of the $1.1 billion, multi-year project to build the Interstate 95 Express Lanes, which added toll lanes to I-95 between I-895 and Maryland 43 (White Marsh Boulevard). The new lanes opened to traffic on December 6, 2014.4