The 53 mile Baltimore Beltway (Route 695), which encircles the city of Baltimore, Maryland, is one of Maryland busiest highways, second only to Interstate 95. Incredibly, over 500,000 cars, trucks and motorcycles travel the Baltimore Beltway every day. Although the Baltimore Beltway is part of the interstate system, about 85 percent of the cars and trucks on it are driven by Maryland drivers. Without traffic, you can drive the full 53 miles stretch in less than an hour. With traffic, good luck.
History of the Baltimore Beltway
The Baltimore Beltway was the completed in 1962. It was the first beltway completed in the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, the brainchild of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s who fought vigorously for the enactment of the 1956 Federal Highway Act. This Act provided 90% of the funding for 695, although the original plan extended back to 1949 when Baltimore County planned the construction to connect such burgeoning communities as Towson, Essex, Timonium, Linthicum, Dundalk, Catonsville, Pikesville, Cockeysville, Randallstown, and Parkville. Fortunately, federal funding allowed Baltimore County to do that and much more.
At the Baltimore Beltway’s completion in July 1962, it ran from Gov. Ritchie Highway (MD Route 2) in Glen Burnie three-quarters of the way around Baltimore to Pulaski highway (US Route 40). It was completed in 1977, with the completion of the Outer Harbor Crossing, an 11-mile-long toll road from MD Route 10 to MD Route 151.
There are both four-lane, three-lane and two-lane sections of the Beltway. Our personal injury accident attorneys believe there are more accidents on the four-lane sections, probably because these portions of the road are more trafficked. There are more cars entering and exiting the Beltway on those sections. Transition in lanes – cars and trucks weaving back and forth as the number of lanes increase or decrease – causes a lot of Beltway crashes.
Maryland continues to tweak the Beltway, primarily to add greater lane capacity. In the earlier part of the decade, considerable effort was made to build bridges over the highway to accommodate a widening near Towson. In late 2005, the Ehrlich administration announced the start of a $5.3 million project for a new US Route 40 interchange of 695 in the Catonsville area of Baltimore County, which has been identified by USA Today as one of the most difficult traffic bottlenecks in the country. We completed this in the summer of 2006.
The next big project is a 34.4 million plan to widen lanes and redesign exit patterns along a 1-mile stretch of Interstate 695 between the inner and outer loops between Harford Road and Perring Parkway, which is more congested than ever. This project started in 2014 and will end in… 2017 — a long road for motorists.
UPDATE: Work has begun to add a fourth lane to maybe the worst sticking point on the Beltway: the outer loop of Interstate 695 between Route 40 and Frederick Road. This will cost a whopping $117 million and will take, brace yourself, four years.
Accidents on the 695
The Baltimore Beltway is notorious for rear end truck crashes, primarily because of all of the stopping and starting in traffic, particularly around construction zones that seem ever present. There are no truck lane controls on 695 because, Maryland transportation officials say, there is no section of the Beltway where the grades are so steep that truck lanes are needed and because such restrictions would put all the slow-moving heavy truck traffic on the right lanes of the Beltway. This makes it difficult to get past the slow moving cars and trucks to get to the exits.
So you have a lot of trucks stopping and starting all over the Baltimore Beltway. Fortunately, the rear end accidents do not typically cause fatalities or serious injuries as with other Baltimore Beltway accidents, but this is no consolation to those who suffer injuries and property damage as many do each and every day on this highway.
Appellate Opinions Involving Beltway Accidents
There has been some reported cases in the Maryland appellate courts involving auto accidents and truck accidents on the Baltimore Beltway. Esposito v. Maryland Auto. Ins. Fund, 274 Md. 708 (1974), involved a tragic case of a 13-year-old boy was a passenger in a car driven by his father on the highway near the Milford Mill Road underpass. The vehicle suddenly veered to the right and traveled off the roadway nearly 116 feet along the shoulder before crashing sideways into the guardrail.
A part of the reason the automobile came to a halt where it did was that a portion of the guardrail pierced through the body of the car, impaling and fatally killing the boy’s father and severing one of the boy’s legs. Before he died, the father claimed he was forced off the road by a phantom car. The family and the child’s estate brought suit against the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF). Although it changed its name to “Maryland Auto Insurance” in 2016, it is not what it was then: an awful insurance company.
The trial court found that the plaintiff did not make “all reasonable efforts” to locate the phantom vehicle. In affirming the decision, our Court of Appeals found that the attorneys were required to use the same efforts one would expect an injured party to exert if he knew there would be no recovery unless he located the driver. In this case, there was no evidence proffered that the accident attorneys for the plaintiff did anything that they could have done if they wanted to perform an investigation as to who caused the car wreck, such as interviewing police officers, hospital personnel or other investigative work.
Hiring an Attorney
Have you been injured in a serious accident on our Beltway? We can help you explore your options. Call 410-779-4600.