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Former Interstate 170

Interstate 170 was the planned freeway spur for downtown Baltimore from Interstate 70 to the west. The highway saw construction in the late 1970s in a residential area west of Greene/Paca Streets (Maryland 295). 1.25 miles of the freeway opened amid controversy in 1979. U.S. 40 remained on the parallel frontage streets of Franklin and Mulberry Streets until 1983 when the route overtook the decommissioned Interstate 170. Construction of the freeway hastened the urban blight of the area community, a trend hoped to end with the addition of the proposed Red Line (MARC).

Abandoned Interstate 170 Map - Baltimore, Maryland

A look at the Interstate 170 freeway west of Downtown Baltimore. The I-170 designation was removed when Interstate 70 was formally canceled within the Baltimore city limits.

When plans for Interstate 70 through Leakin and Gwynns Falls Park were dropped in 1981, the connection to Interstate 170 was severed. Construction of that freeway was canceled due to the impacts to both Gwynn Falls Park and residential areas to the east. Interstate 170, no longer connecting to its parent, was dropped in favor of a realigned U.S. 40.

A 1980s proposal sought to retain some of the abandoned Interstate 70 plans in the form of an Interstate 595 spur from the planned east end of I-70 (near Exit 51 of Interstate 95) northwest to the planned Interstates 70/170 junction. This met opposition as well and was dropped before any work began on July 22, 1983.2

The Interstate 595 proposal made it to the 1986 Gousha Metropolitan Baltimore folding map.

Pulaski Street
Looking at the western end of the Interstate 170 stub freeway from Pulaski Street. A large mural was painted on the concrete wall that was intended to support unconstructed Interstate 170 to obscure its blight from the surrounding neighborhood. Also note the growth of trees from what was to be the roadbed of the freeway.
Demolition of the freeway stub commenced September 10, 2010 on a $2.5-million project aimed to raze the unused freeway elements between Pulaski and Monroe Streets. A $6-million project was slated for summer 2011 involving the construction of two new parking lots for the adjacent MARC West Baltimore station nearby.1 The lots will also support the 14-mile Red Line subway proposed to run from the government offices at the west end of Security Boulevard (Maryland 122) to the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
As of June 20, 2012, the lots remain unbuilt. Photo taken 08/27/05. Second photo taken 08/27/05. Third photo taken 08/27/05. Fourth photo taken 06/20/12.
U.S. 40 / Former Interstate 170 east
U.S. 40 departs Mulberry Street after the intersection with Pulaski Street and joins the former Interstate 170 freeway. The ramp traveled alongside remnants of the unconstructed off-ramp to U.S. 1 (Fulton Avenue & Mulberry Street) since removed during a 2010 demolition project. A grassy berm and two retaining walls were also leveled during that work. Photo taken 08/27/05.
A sign bridge featuring vintage button copy signs of U.S. 1 also remained in place over the ghost on-ramp. These were taken down with the removal of the ramp stub in late 2010. Photo taken 06/27/10.
Looking back to the west at non-existent oncoming traffic on the eastbound carriageway of former Interstate 170. Jersey barriers prevent drivers from continuing west to the freeway drop-off at Pulaski Street.
This stretch of unused roadway will be completely removed by summer 2011 as part of a $2.5-million project to clear land for an expanded MARC parking lot facility east of Pulaski Street. Photo taken 01/02/01.
Guide signs hover above the abandoned freeway mainline at the Mulberry Street on-ramp from Pulaski Street. The left-hand panel alludes to the freeway end at Greene Street (Maryland 295 north) near downtown. An off-ramp departs the former Interstate 170 freeway for Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard within the next mile.
A security fence was added beyond the barrier to the left since 2010. Photo taken 06/27/10.
The freeway travels below grade alongside Mulberry Street (east) and Franklin Street (west). A series of overpasses carry both vehicular and pedestrian traffic above. Photo taken 08/27/05.
U.S. 40 eastbound reassurance shield posted near the Stricker Street pedestrian bridge. For a brief time the freeway carried Interstate 170 markers, with U.S. 40 remaining along the parallel frontage streets. Photo taken 06/20/12.

The former Interstate 170 freeway briefly carries six lanes between U.S. 1 and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard off-ramp. MLK Boulevard skims the western periphery of downtown Baltimore to the Mount Vernon, Seton Hill, Lexington Terrace, and Ridgelys Delight communities. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Traveling east at the Carollton Street pedestrian overpass on U.S. 40. The freeway median remains empty as it represents an unconstructed leg of the Baltimore Metro line.
The proposed Red Line of MARC will utilize this corridor if built as envisioned. A 2016-completion date was being touted as of 2011. Photo taken 08/27/05.
Approaching the Arlington Avenue overpass on U.S. 40 eastbound. Speed limits on the former Interstate 170 freeway are set at 50 mph. Photo taken 06/27/10.
The final button copy sign bridge displays the only two exit ramps in association with the former Interstate 170 freeway. The right-hand ramp descends to a signalized intersection with Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The U.S. 40 mainline continues over MLK Boulevard onto Mulberry Street west of its intersection with Greene Street. A grassy right-of-way remains from the unconstructed Baltimore Metro Line. The label scar on the left-hand panel once displayed "Baltimore". Photo taken 06/20/12.
Traffic partitions between U.S. 40 (Mulberry Street) east to Greene Street and north downtown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Interests to the Inner Harbor area of downtown or Camden Yards should use MLK Boulevard southbound. MLK Boulevard northbound leads to Maryland Avenue and Chase Street at the community of Mount Vernon. Photo taken 08/27/05.
U.S. 40 sees a freeway ends sign bridge ahead of its merge onto Mulberry Street just east of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Photo taken 08/27/05.
U.S. 40 approaches the Social Security Building and Greene Street (Maryland 295 south). Photo taken 08/27/05.
The former Interstate 170 freeway ends and U.S. 40 returns to its Mulberry and Franklin Street one-way couplet through northern reaches of the Baltimore central business district. Mulberry Street passes underneath the Social Security Building ahead of the traffic light with Greene Street. Greene Street travels south through the University of Maryland at Baltimore Campus to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Photo taken 08/27/05.
U.S. 40 / Former Interstate 170 west
A "TO U.S. 40" shield assembly resides at the gore point between Franklin Street and the former Interstate 170 freeway beginning. The assembly should read "West U.S. 40". Photo taken 08/27/05.
Former Interstate 170 commences westbound ahead of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard under crossing. A 50 mph speed limit is posted on the short freeway. Photo taken 06/27/10.
A wide expanse of grass resides between the two carriageways of the U.S. 40 freeway between Greene Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The easternmost stretch of the Interstate 170 freeway alludes to something more, however an eastward extension into downtown was never planned. Photo taken 06/27/10.
Traffic from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard utilizes Franklin Street west to this on-ramp onto the westbound freeway of U.S. 40. Photo taken 06/20/12.
U.S. 40 sinks below grade and passes under the second in a series of overpasses at Arlington Avenue. Streets that were severed between Franklin and Mulberry Streets are still joined with pedestrian bridges, such as the Carrollton Avenue span ahead. Photo taken 06/27/10.
Affixed to the Carey Street over crossing is a vintage button copy overhead for the U.S. 40 off-ramp at Pulaski Street. Also visible in this scene is the empty median that was reserved for an unconstructed line of the Baltimore Metro subway system. Current proposals for the Red Line will utilize this space. Photo taken 06/20/12.
All traffic on the former Interstate 170 westbound freeway must exit onto Franklin Street westbound ahead of its intersection with Pulaski Street. A second button copy overhead affixes itself to the Stricker Street pedestrian over crossing. Photo taken 06/20/12.
U.S. 40 prepares to depart the Interstate 170 freeway at the Mount Street overpass. The US Route passes underneath U.S. 1 (Monroe Street & Fulton Avenue) ahead. Motorists destined for U.S. 1 should remain on Franklin Street west from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Photo taken 06/20/12.
All U.S. 40 traffic returns to Franklin Street 1.25 miles west of Greene Street. The one-lane off-ramp was restriped to accommodate two lanes as the freeway ends. Monroe Street (U.S. 1 southbound) crosses overhead.
Had Interstate 170 been completed, the freeway was to veer southwest from the one-way street couplet of U.S. 40 to Interstate 70 at Gwynns Falls. Photo taken 06/27/10.
A look at the Franklin Street (former U.S. 40 west) intersection with U.S. 1 south (Monroe Street). U.S. 1 northbound follows Fulton Street one block to the east. A button copy overhead looms overhead with a blank sign for "Interstate 170 West." Also visible was the blocked on-ramp to unconstructed Interstate 170 westbound from Franklin Street and U.S. 1. Photo taken 01/02/01.
Looking westward from the Monroe Street (U.S. 1 southbound) overpass, one could view the literal end of the freeway and the path that was planned for Interstate 170. It appeared that construction crews worked so feverishly, that even an empty sign bridge was installed for a never to be built next exit.
This section of abandoned roadway was removed by summer 2011. This included the intended on-ramp to I-170 west from U.S. 1. Photo taken 01/02/01. Second photo taken 06/27/10. Third photo taken 06/20/12.
Mulberry Street (eastbound frontage street)
Eastbound on Mulberry Street (former U.S. 40 east) at what was the partially built off-ramp from unconstructed Interstate 170 eastbound to U.S. 1 (Monroe Street & Fulton Avenue). A sign bridge was hastily installed to display directions for traffic to U.S. 1.
Results of the 2010-11 demolition of unused freeway west of Fulton Avenue removed the majority of this ramp. Photo taken 10/14/01. Second photo taken 06/20/12.
Button copy overheads posted above Mulberry Street east direct traffic to U.S. 1 from U.S. 40 east. These were intended for the freeway off-ramp of Interstate 170. Photos taken 06/20/12.
Mulberry Street parallels the eastbound lanes of U.S. 40 (former Interstate 70) between the on-ramp at Monroe Street and off-ramp ahead of Greene Street. Mulberry Street intersects U.S. 1 southbound (Monroe Street) at a signalized intersection and proceeds one block to the signal at U.S. 1 northbound (Fulton Avenue). Photo taken 06/20/12.
Continuing eastward on Mulberry Street between U.S. 1 north (Fulton Street) and Mount Street. Grassy areas buffer the depressed freeway between the adjacent frontage streets. Older row homes, most of which are in a neglected or vandalized state, front both Mulberry and Franklin Streets otherwise. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Eastbound at the intersection with Gilmor Street, one block east of Mount Street. The majority of the intersections between Mulberry & Franklin Streets with the north-south streets are governed by traffic lights. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Fortunately between 2004 and 2010, some of the dwellings located next to Mulberry Street have been renovated. A row home at Carey Street was one such property brought back to life. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Mulberry Street eastbound at Carrollton Avenue. Stricker Street and Carrollton Avenue were made discontinuous with the construction of the Interstate 170 freeway. Pedestrian overpasses cross above the freeway in lieu of roadway over crossings between the disjointed segments. Photo taken 06/27/10.
Overgrown, vacant lots front the intersection of Mulberry Street and Arlington Avenue. Arlington Avenue flows northward from Saratoga Street, one block to the south, to Fremont Avenue and Pitcher Street. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Continuing east to the intersection with Schroeder Street on Mulberry Street eastbound. The former Interstate 170 freeway emerges ahead to pass over Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard as Mulberry Street descends to intersect the six-lane boulevard below. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Peering through the fence and foliage at the U.S. 40 off-ramp to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. U.S. 40 remains on the freeway to Mulberry Street, joining it eastward from the freeway to Orleans Street at St. Paul Place north of downtown Baltimore. Photo taken 10/10/04.
Traffic from U.S. 40 eastbound merges onto Mulberry Street ahead of its intersection with Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (Biddle Street). Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard loops west of downtown Baltimore between Chase Street and the western branch of Interstate 395. The boulevard north connects US 40 with the Mount Vernon neighborhood. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Mulberry Street eastbound at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The six-lane arterial intersects Lombard & Pratt Streets just west of the central business district. From there the boulevard continues to Camden Yards and directly onto the southbound beginning of Interstate 395. Mulberry Street continues east with U.S. 40 to Orleans Street near Interstate 83. Photo taken 06/20/12.
Franklin Street (westbound frontage street)
A look at the Franklin Street on-ramp to U.S. 40 from just west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The overhead originally displayed "Interstate 170 west". Photo taken 06/20/12.
Franklin Street westbound sees an overhead for U.S. 1 (Monroe Street) southbound and the unopened on-ramp to Interstate 170 westbound. U.S. 40 was to remain on Franklin and Mulberry Streets and continue west to Edmondson Avenue as Interstate 170 veered southwest to meet Interstate 70 at Gwynns Falls Park. Photo taken 06/27/10.
While queuing at the Monroe Street traffic light, motorists could gaze upon the stub end of the Interstate 170 freeway, partially completed on-ramp, an empty sign bridge and light posts installed in 1979. Demolition of the unused roadway commenced in September 2010 to raze all elements of former Interstate 170 west of Monroe Street. Photo taken 10/13/04.
The U.S. 1 on-ramp via Franklin Street crosses over the U.S. 40 westbound off-ramp from former Interstate 170. Photo taken 10/13/04.
U.S. 40 and Franklin Street converge at the intersection with Pulaski Street two blocks west of U.S. 1 (Monroe Street) south. A jersey barrier segregates traffic from the merging U.S. 40 (two lanes) and Franklin Street (one lane). Photo taken 10/13/04.
Martin Luther King Jr, Boulevard north
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard acts as a connector between the western branch of Interstate 395 and U.S. 40 (Franklin & Mulberry Streets), providing a through route around the western edge of downtown. This picture shows the boulevard as it approaches U.S. 40, which is former Interstate 170. Photo taken 05/31/04.
Button copy signage on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard northbound approaching the former Interstate 170 freeway. Notice that an imprint was still evident from when this sign actually did display Interstate 170. Interstate 170 was signed between 1979 and 1983. Photo taken 10/14/01. Second photo taken 05/31/04.
U.S. 40 returns to Mulberry Street from the I-170 freeway just east of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Photo taken 05/31/04.
A second sign relic remained with an imprint from a removed Interstate 170 shield at the left-hand turn onto Franklin Street west from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard north. Photo taken 10/14/01. Second photo taken 06/20/12.
U.S. 40 trailblazer posted at the left-hand turn onto Franklin Street. The freeway on-ramp is nearby. Photo taken 06/20/12.

Sources:

  1. "'Highway to Nowhere' heads to the dump." The Baltimore Sun, September 10, 2010.
  2. Interstate 170 (Maryland) @ Wikipedia.org.
Photo Credits:
2001-01-02, 2001-10-14, 2004-05-31, 2004-10-10, 2004-10-13, 2005-08-27, 2010-06-27, 2012-06-20 by AARoads

Connect with:
U.S. Highway 40

Page Updated 07-12-2012.

 
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