Interstate 695 - Baltimore Beltway

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Interstate 695 encircles the city of Baltimore as both a busy commuter route for the many suburbs and a truck route across the Patapsco River for industrial areas at Dundalk and Curtis Bay. The Francis Scott Key Bridge also represents the hazardous materials bypass for the Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95). The Interstate is signed along the entire 51.46-mile beltway, but only recognized by the FHWA along 30.57 miles clockwise from I-97 (Exit 4) near Glen Burnie to I-95 (Exit 33) near Overlea. The remaining portion to the southeast, including the Key Bridge, is officially Maryland Route 695.

Interstate 695 Maryland Guides

The Baltimore Beltway was completed between Maryland 2 (Ritchie Highway) near Arundel Village and U.S. 40 (Pulaski Highway) near Essex in 1962. An extension of the route opened from U.S. 40 southeast to Eastern Boulevard (MD 150) in 1972 as the Southeast Freeway. This portion of the beltway was to continue further south along Back River Neck to a new bridge across the Back River toward Dundalk.1

Plans for the Beltway changed by 1978, when the Southeast Freeway section was dropped. Instead the beltway shifted westward along a portion of the Windlass Freeway to the west of Essex and the Patapsco Freeway south from there to Edgemere. That stretch was opened to traffic by 1974. This shift orphaned a short portion of the Southeast Freeway, leaving it as newly designated MD 702.1

This progress left the crossing of the Patapsco River between Hawkins and Sellers Points. Initial plans called for another tunnel, but those were revised into a bridge. Named the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the span was completed in 1977, but with two-lane approaches on each end. Expansion of the viaduct followed to the west, but not until 1999 to the east.1

A portion of the Baltimore Beltway utilizes the planned Winlass Freeway. The Winlass was proposed east from Interstate 95 at Moravia Road to Chase. Remnants of the abandoned freeway plan are visible within the interchange joining I-695 with MD 702 (Southeast Expressway).
The wide median of Interstate 695 between Exit 41 and Exit 42 alludes to the freeway alignment and planned bridge across Back Bay.
Interstate 695 scenes
Edmondson Avenue meets Interstate 695 at one of two Catonsville interchanges (Exit 14). A loop ramp joins the Beltway southbound to Arbutus and Glen Burnie in this scene. Photo taken 07/02/10.
Eastbound Edmondson Avenue at the northbound (inner loop) ramp of Interstate 695 north to Interstate 70 and Pikesville. A parclo interchange joins Edmondson with the Baltimore Beltway. Photo taken 07/02/10.
Maryland 158 (Bethlehem Boulevard) eastbound at the southern terminus of Maryland 157 (Peninsula Expressway) adjacent to the Baltimore Beltway at Exit 43. Maryland 158 comprises 2.35 miles between the entrance to the Bethlehem Steel Plant and Maryland 151 (North Point Boulevard) at Edgemere. Maryland 157 meanwhile stems northwest 4.79 miles via the four-lane Peninsula Expressway and Merritt Boulevard to I-695 / Maryland 151 at Exit 39. Despite the name and some 1980s road maps displaying it as a freeway, the Peninsula Expressway is nothing more than a draw bridge over the Bear Creek and the approaches associated with it. Photo taken 10/10/04.

Sources:
  1. MDRoads: I-695.


Photo Credits:

10/10/04, 07/02/10 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 70
Interstate 83
Interstate 95
Interstate 795 - Northwest Expressway
Interstate 895
U.S. 1
U.S. 40
Route 10 - Arundel Expressway
Route 295 - Baltimore-Washington Parkway

Page Updated 06-03-2014.