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National Park Service to begin emergency repairs on Baltimore-Washington Parkway amid pressure from lawmakers

The National Park Service will begin emergency repairs this weekend on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway/Route 295 — earlier than planned, amid pressure from Gov. Larry Hogan and the state congressional delegation.

The parkway’s conditions had deteriorated so much that the Park Service lowered the speed limit on the parkway to 40 mph between Maryland routes 197 and 32 earlier this month to calm traffic and make the road safer for drivers.

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Pothole patching will begin between Maryland routes 197 and 198, weather permitting, the Park Service said. The southbound section will close from 7:30 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday; the northbound section will close from 7:30 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

A complete repaving of that stretch of the parkway, originally scheduled for fall, will start in mid-April, the agency said. The Park Service expects to begin a second phase of repaving, from Route 198 to Route 175, and repave all the access ramps beginning in mid-summer.

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“We take our responsibility for the parkway very seriously and are making good on our promise to drivers to do everything in our power to improve the road,” Baltimore-Washington Parkway Superintendent Matt Carroll said in a statement. “National Park Service crews have been working tirelessly. The special patching this weekend should improve driving right away and will be quickly followed by repaving.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who requested hastened repairs in a March 15 letter and a meeting with agency officials Friday, praised the decision to move forward with them.

Gov. Larry Hogan is urging the Maryland congressional delegation to support his proposal for a state takeover of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway/Route 295 from the National Park Service.

“It will mean we get back to a reliable and safer commute along that part of the parkway. It should bring an end to the unsafe and hazardous conditions,” the senator said in an interview Wednesday. “This was badly needed, and I’m glad that the National Park Service and the Department of Transportation are now treating it as the emergency it is.”

The Park Service is in a multi-year process of repaving all 18 miles of the parkway. The agency has repaved from New York Avenue in Washington, north to the Patuxent River Bridge near the Maryland Route 197 interchange, and the accelerated schedule will result in the completion of the remaining stretch of the highway this year, the agency said.

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The parkway was particularly damaged because of last year’s rain and the winter’s volatile temperatures.

Hogan had made a separate request of the federal agency — to turn the Maryland section of the highway over to the state. He and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose department oversees the Park Service, signed a non-binding general agreement in June to “explore potential legislative solutions” for such a transfer.

The governor, who last week called the conditions “outrageous and unacceptable,” praised the Park Service for moving forward with repairs.

“The administration is right to recognize the overwhelming outcry from Marylanders about the absolutely horrible conditions on 295,” the governor said in a statement. “It should not have taken this long, but what is most important is that we fix the road now.”

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