Two more lanes [Editorial]

The announcement late last week that the express lane program on Interstate 95 is being expanded into Harford County at a cost of about $1.2 billion, on the surface at least, sounds like just what is needed to hope motorists in the region get to and from work and to other activities.

There are four traffic lanes in each direction on I-95 with two express toll lanes in each direction in the center of the highway south of Harford County between White Marsh and where I-95 and I-895 split just east of Baltimore City.

“The I-95 ETLs [express toll lanes] north of Baltimore have been very successful, and I’m pleased we are able to deliver even more traffic relief,” Pete K. Rahn, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation and chairman of the Mryland Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

In a plan announced last fall, the state was planning to spend a couple of million dollars to help the highway’s traffic problems. Just a few months later, the plan has greatly expanded in scope and cost.

We’re as curious about the timing of the announcement, coming from Gov. Larry Hogan, who is seeking re-election, just as early voting was getting underway, as we are about why the plan doesn’t include an expansion of the southbound lanes.

Maryland Transportation Authority officials, who are responsible for the operation of I-95 and other toll facilities in the state, have said studies show the greatest need is for northbound traffic relief. Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean there’s also not a significant need for southbound relief, too. There is.

For commuters sitting in lines of traffic coming home to Harford County after work, two express lanes and interchange upgrades, sounds like a welcome relief.

After more than $1.2 billion and eight years of construction, commuters in 2026 will learn if it’s a real relief, or just the newest piece in the region’s traffic nightmare puzzle.

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