SHA presents proposals for I-695 projects at Arbutus Middle School

The Maryland State Highway Administration presented proposals for an Interstate 695 ramp and bridge replacement projects in Arbutus during a public informational meeting Wednesday evening.

Dozens of area residents and business owners reviewed about a dozen poster boards with information about the projects and questioned SHA staff during the session at Arbutus Middle School.

Drawing the most attention was a project that provide a direct connection between Southwestern Boulevard and the inner loop of I-695 by spanning Leeds Avenue.

The proposed ramp will replace an existing one at Leeds Avenue and is designed to reduce commuter traffic through downtown Arbutus.

Construction would begin in summer 2014 and last about two years.

Currently, funding for the project, which would cost about $10-$15 million, covers only the design phase.

Should the project get funding, a segment of construction would require the closure of the Leeds Avenue ramp.

The closure is necessary because of a 25-foot difference in elevation between the ramp and Southwestern Boulevard.

Detour signs would direct traffic to the ramp on Washington Boulevard.

The second project involves the replacement of two I-695 inner loop bridges.

One spans Leeds Avenue, Amtrak railroad tracks and Southwestern Boulevard. The other spans Benson Avenue.

The proposed project has not received funding but would cost between $30 million and $40 million.

Construction would begin spring 2014 and last for up to two years.

The bridges were built in 1957 and widened in 1970 and have become structurally deficient.

The project would save on future maintenance spending for the bridge. The outer loop bridges were replaced five years ago.

During construction, the lanes from the I-695 inner loop and I-95 ramps will be maintained during peak travel times.

Construction on the bridge spanning Benson Avenue will require the closure of the right ramp about 1,000 feet prior to its current end point.

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