Traffic improvements to roadways serving Sparrows Point and the Port of Baltimore were among the transportation priorities presented by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
Kamenetz's proposal, outlined in a letter to Rahn, also included a plea to address mass transit in the area.
In his letter, Kamenetz trumpeted the ongoing development at Sparrows Point, adding, “Continued state infrastructure investment to support the Port of Baltimore and Sparrows Point will result in a generation of new jobs for the region.”
To that end, he proposed constructing a full interchange at I-695 and Exit 44 at Broening Highway.
Such a project, he noted, would allow trucks to avoid the toll plaza and would reduce truck traffic through residential areas around Dundalk and Holabird avenues.
(In October, Maryland's congressional delegation announced federal funding to create an alternative truck route between I-95 and the Port of Baltimore — a move also designed to cut truck traffic in residential neighborhoods.)
He also pointed to the need for a signalized intersection at Sollers Point Road and Main Street by Broening Highway, adding that the signal would “enhance road access and reduce traffic congestion,” improving access to the Port of Baltimore and Sparrows Point.
Kamenetz also cited several bridges near Sparrows Point that are in need of repair, including MD 151 over Wharf Road and Industrial Railroad, MD 157 over ramps to I-695, Wharf Road Ramp over Wharf Road and Wharf Road over Baltimore Industrial Railroad.
In his letter to Rahn, Kamenetz also addressed the need for improved mass transit options in the Baltimore metro area, especially in light of Governor Larry Hogan's rejection of the Red Line this summer.
In June, Governor Larry Hogan rejected the Red Line, a proposed light rail line which would have connected west and east Baltimore, terminating in the east at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
In October, Hogan unveiled a $135 million plan to revamp Baltimore's bus system, introducing a proposed system of 12 color-coded high-frequency bus routes through downtown Baltimore. A complete plan to redo Baltimore's bus system is due by June 2017.
Kamenetz has not been shy about speaking out against Hogan's rejection of the Red Line, and his subsequent bus plan, which Kamenetz refered to as “simply 'window dressing' a bus system” in a statement issued after the plan was unveiled.
In his proposal to Rahn, Kamenetz cited the need for a bus system that attracts “choice riders” — i.e., those who would commute via mass transit rather than by car — as a way to relieve traffic congestion.
He reiterated the need for a rapid bus line or light rail line from at least Woodlawn to Lexington Market as an alternative to the rejected Red Line.
He noted, “In light of the Governor’s decision to abandon the Red Line, it is imperative that an east/west plan be developed that will address the transit needs of these choice riders.”
Kamenetz's plan included several other proposed projects, including streetscape improvements on Eastern Avenue from Mace Avenue to MD 702.