8:58 PM EDT, October 13, 2013
State highway crews on Sunday began a series of nighttime closures of the Beltway's inner loop near White Marsh, as crews started taking down an old overpass near the intersection of Interstate 695 and I-95, part of the state's $1.1 billion overhaul of the busy interchange.
The closures, planned for between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. nightly through Thursday, affect all lanes of the inner loop at exit 33 in Baltimore County.
During the shutdown, traffic is being diverted north to I-95, then west on White Marsh Boulevard, then south on I-95 and back to the inner loop, the Maryland Transportation Authority said.
While nighttime closures may mean detours and delays, officials had good news for commuters: Starting with Monday's rush hour, a second lane for northbound traffic on the new ramp for on I-95 headed west on I-695 is open to traffic.
That ramp,110-feet at its highest point, opened in 2008 and had carried only one lane of traffic during recent construction.
The interchange of I-95 and I-695 has undergone expansion and reconfiguration over the past several years, including the replacement of two old bridges at White Marsh Boulevard, the elimination of left-hand exits and preparations for four express toll lanes to improve flow.
When the project is completed in late 2014, motorists on I-95 northeast of Baltimore will be able to access a seven-mile stretch of the highway through the express toll lanes — four of them in all, two in each direction. The toll lanes, running from Moravia Road north to Joppa Road, will be in the swath of highway between the four northbound and four southbound general traffic lanes of I-95.
State transportation officials say the express lanes will offer a quicker commute for drivers willing to pay a toll with E-ZPass. The system will be completely electronic, with no toll booths.
The board of the Maryland Transportation Authority already has approved a proposed pricing plan for the express toll lanes. While the tolls will vary by the time of day and type of vehicle, use of the express lanes could cost between 25 cents and 35 cents per mile during peak hours. But final prices have not been approved.
The last of three public hearings on the proposed tolls will be held Tuesday night at Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., with public comment starting at 7 p.m.
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