A Monday morning accident near 28th Street on the southbound Jones Falls Expressway and a stalled vehicle near the Northern Parkway exit meant traffic was narrowed to a single lane for one lengthy stretch of the popular route to downtown. The two incidents worsened a commute city transportation officials had already warned would be difficult because of planned lane closures.
Emergency crews cleared the accident within an hour and a tow truck quickly removed the car, city transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said.
Traffic on alternate routes picked up significantly by 8 a.m., particularly along York Road, Charles Street and Falls Road, as motorists heeded warnings about possible backups on the expressway, she said. Many motorists reported long delays at traffic signals on those routes, some waiting through three or four light cycles.
"Many drivers took alternative routes and most of those were running smoothly without accidents," Barnes said. "We will continue to urge drivers to use more alternatives, like Harford Road and Perring Parkway to even out the volume on alternate routes."
Barnes encouraged drivers to maintain moderate speeds and take care in the stop-and-go traffic. Officials want to avoid the fender benders that would further snarl traffic, she said.
"It's going to be very easy to rear-end someone because it's slow going," Barnes said. "We know people are going to get a little frustrated. We are asking drivers to maintain a distance, be patient and stay alert."
The accident, which required several emergency vehicles, was reported before 7 a.m. and blocked the right lane at 28th Street; no serious injuries were reported. The left lane was already closed, as planned, near 29th Street and Druid Lake Drive to allow for repairs to drainage pipes under the highway.
While construction work hasn't begun and likely won't until the end of the month, the lanes are closed out of caution, Barnes said. Crews are beginning the process of evaluating the damage to the drainage pipes, which they fear could cause a sinkhole in the highway.
"Now all eyes will be northbound on the evening rush hour, which typically begins about 3 p.m.," Barnes said.