Interstate 83 is most known to locals for its towering Pepsi sign, which marks an area of the highway where crashes commonly occur. The sign itself does not play any part in the accidents, but the winding layout of the elevated expressway does. This stretch of road, called the Jones Falls Expressway, has been a vex on city officials, police and commuters for decades.
The Jones Falls Expressway consists of six lanes, which carries more than 100,000 cars every day through North Baltimore. According to the city’s Department of Transportation between 250 and 300 crashes occur on the expressway each year, nearly one every day. On a Monday in early February, four distinct crashes occurred in the area, likely due in part to inclement weather.
In search of a solution, the city has commissioned a $65,000 study, which will take a look at problem areas along the highway. Solutions are expected to be presented to the expressway’s many issues which, according to the city’s acting transportation director Frank Murphy, include: tight curves along the interstate, undulations, and the overwhelming number of commuters that use the highway.
“The geometry’s a little old, so it’s going to have higher crashes per 100,000 vehicles than the Beltway, for example,” Murphy said.
The city expects a wide range of recommendations to come from the study, but knows that just because a solution is possible doesn’t mean it is plausible.
“We’re looking at both short-term, which would be signing improvements, and then long-term, which we don’t necessarily have funding for,” Young said. The study could recommend “anything from geometric improvements to something with the pavement,” he said. The bulk of the accidents happen in a roughly two-mile stretch between the Cold Spring Lane and 28th Street-Druid Park Lake Drive exits, Murphy said.
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