"Here's a truck stop instead of Saint Peter's."
—R.E.M., Man On The Moon
"Restore your lost soul for two dollars plus toll."
—The Church, North, South, East & West
Need for a High-Speed Highway System in Maryland
Maryland didn't wait for the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 to start building freeways. Even before World War II, traffic through the eastern corridor increased to the point that some sort of thruway or bypass was needed. The bulk of east coast traffic used US 1 from Washington and US 40 east out of Baltimore toward Philadelphia, resulting in Baltimore backups that were the stuff of legend up and down the east coast. One holiday weekend in the late 40s a backup stretched from northbound US 1 in Baltimore to New York Avenue in Washington, 40 miles distant.
Pre-Interstate Limited-Access Highways
The first section of freeway in Maryland was the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, A tree-lined route to alleviate the traffic problems on US 1 between the two cities. North of Route 175, it was constructed and maintained by the SRC; south of 175 is under Federal jurisdiciton to this day. The Harbor Tunnel Thruway (now I-895) was completed in November 1957, and routed all through traffic around the snarl of Baltimore. John Hanson Highway, the new US 50 from Washington to Annapolis was also opened in 1957. It connected to the new Bay Bridge, opened on July 30, 1952. Construction for the Baltmore Beltway began around 1955 as a Baltimore County project, later to be picked up by SRC and incorporated into the new Interstate system in '56.
The Interstate System Takes Shape
Around the time of the passage of the Interstate legislation, these highways were completed or construction underway. Current numbers are used:
- I-70 (US 40): bypass around Frederick
- I-270 (US 240): between MD 85 (then US 15) and MD 118
- I-83 (US 111): north of Shawan Rd. (Exit 20) to PA line
- I-495: small section near I-270
- I-695: between exits 5-8 in Linthicum and 25-28 in Towson
- I-895: between US 1 and 40
- B-W Parkway: north of MD 175 to Baltimore
The first Interstates to be completed were 70S and 83, around 1962-63. Both were authorized in the early fifties, before passage of the interstate highway legislation in 1956.
Hit the road!
Select from the links below.
Information is laid out the same as the state route pages.