There are many radial highways in and out of Baltimore whose construction divided neighborhoods, regardless of race, creed or religion. Interstate 83, the Jones Falls Expressway, divided Medfield and the eastern section of Mount Washington. Constructed in 1956, the JFX was laid out trying to dodge as many neighborhoods as possible along the Pennsylvania Railroad line and elevated in stretches, but this resulted in dangerous curves for interstate speeds. So, it stands to reason that future radial highways in and out of the city should be laid straight. To Baltimore’s east, Interstate 895, the Harbor Tunnel Thruway, was built in 1957 and split Greektown in half.
I live in Northeast Baltimore. When I attended University of Maryland, Baltimore County, I had to drive out Perring Parkway, another radial highway constructed in 1962, cutting Loch Raven from Hamilton, to Interstate 695 and completely around Baltimore to get to classes. The “Highway to Nowhere” constructed by 1979 did, indeed, make an inside city commute possible, as I have family in Catonsville and have other places in West Baltimore to visit, allowing me to travel quickly through 17 blocks of West Baltimore neighborhoods without stopping (”Baltimore receives grant to address ‘Highway to Nowhere’: ‘It’s never too late to undo the wrongs of the past,’” Feb. 21). Then in 1981, the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (originally named Harbor City Boulevard) was constructed. I have used MLK to the “Highway to Nowhere” continually since, as opposed to driving around the frequently traffic-jammed loops. It connects us.
So, far from going “Nowhere,” it has been a radial access route to get from Northeast and East Baltimore to the west, even though only partially. But I like it and have used it for decades. It is already built and, in fact, has been there for over 40 years. It’s not unattractive. I’m not saying that back in the day, it didn’t displace people, but it’s not like we can go back to the 1970s. The lost homes of that era would be loaded with lead paint and asbestos. And most everyone who clearly remembers the details and the whole history would have to be at least 75 years old and would likely no longer be living there anyway, if indeed living at all.
— Georgia Corso, Baltimore
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