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October 12, 2011

Many streets closed for marathon. So, what's open?

When the Baltimore Marathon takes to the streets Saturday, traffic will be disrupted through much of central Baltimore. It happens every year, and city residents have learned to cope with a multitude of street closings, lane closings, park restrictions and other inconveniences as best they can.

The city Department of Transportation is always diligent about releasing a list of streets that will be closed or otherwise affected, but that leaves the question of which roads will remain open or be minimally affected. In other words, how do you get around the city on marathon day?

First, some good news: A map of the marathon route shows that no roads to the west or north of Druid Hill Park will be affected, and the part of Greenspring Avenue that runs along the park's southwest side should be clear after about 10 a.m.  With the exception of the Lake Montebello loop, roads north of 33rd Street, including the east-west corridors of Cold Spring Lane and Northern Parkway, won't be closed. The Bel Air Road corridor will be unaffected north of North Avenue. And in Southeast Baltimore, Linwood Avenue is easternmost street affected. The Jones Falls Expressway will remain open.

Bonus good news: The city's official estimates for how long streets will be closed appear to have been padded to give officials a lot of extra wiggle room. The estimate that parts of Key Highway will be closed until 4 p.m. looks quite conservative in view of the fact that even the stragglers are expected to clear that area before noon. Also dubious is the prediction that streets in Southeast Baltimore will remain closed until 5:30 p.m. A reopening in early afternoon is much more likely.

The bad news: Most of the territory within that perimeter will be affected -- either by closings of streets on the race route or sometimes lengthy stoppages of those that cross those streets. Because the 26.2-mile course follows a north-south-north-south path,   east-west routes south of Cold Spring  will be crossed multiple times at different times of the day -- four times in the case of North Avenue and U.S. 40. Southbound JFX travelers could face problems once they get off; northbound travelers could find it difficult to get on.

If you're traveling along a road that crosses the route, try to avoid the times when the pack at the front comes through. You could be in for a long wait. Police are unlikely to stop runners who are in the competition. They may allow traffic through once the field thins out and there are some breaks. It'll be up to the officer's discretion, according to transportation officials.

Here are some hints for coping with the challenges of getting around:

--If traveling southbound on the JFX toward Southwest Baltimore or southbound Interstate 95, North Avenue west of the JFX should be clear for the day as of about 9:30 a.m.  The Monroe/Fulton and Hilton Parkway corridors can be used to bypass the race route. Drivers heading downtown on the JFX should use the Maryland Avenue and Guilford Avenue exits rather than St. Paul Street -- at least until after about 10:30 a.m.

--If trying to reach the JFX from the south, Charles Street will not be affected by the closings -- though there may be some extra traffic -- until north of the I-83 entrance at Penn Station. Motorists coming to Federal Hill or downtown from the south will find  Hanover and Charles streets open all day.

--Conway Street will remain open through the race, giving access to downtown via Charles Street from Interstate 395, but backups near the Camden Yards finish line are possible.

--Paca Street is scheduled to be clear after 9:30 a.m., Russell  after 10 a.m.and Light after 10:30 a.m. 

--Traffic in Canton and Highlandtown is scheduled to return to normal after about 12:30 p.m. During the morning, there will be free-flowing access to those neighborhoods from the south using the Keith Avenue exit of Interstate 95 (just past the Fort McHenry Tunnel, using the right lane). Bear right at the exit and continue onto Clinton Street to Boston Street.

--Certain streets in East Baltimore that are not on the marathon map will be affected by the half-marathon taking place at the same time. They include Eastern Avenue, Patterson Park Avenue, Pratt Street, Broadway and Fayette Street.

--People heading from West Baltimore to East Baltimore who normally use city streets may want to get on I-95 using Caton Avenue and take the Fort McHenry Tunnel ($2 toll one way) to Keith, Boston, Eastern Avenue, Moravia Road and hook back to their destination. Those going from East Baltimore to West might save time by reversing the process.

--Drivers heading from Southeast Baltimore to North Baltimore can avoid the race route by using Highland to Belair Road and then heading west on Moravia and Cold Spring.

During the day, people traveling downtown should consider using light rail or the Metro subway.

Many Maryland Transit Administration routes, as well as Charm City Circulator service, will be affected by the marathon.

The MTA said 21 of its bus routes would be shortened or split into two separate loops -- with a gap in central Baltimore -- between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., while service on the No. 48 route will not operate at all. Others may be diverted. For specific information on individual routes, check the MTA website. The agency said service will be restored as soon as possible after the race.

The Charm City Circulator's Orange Route will be shifted from Pratt Street to Baltimore Street for eastbound traffic, and will not make its usual loop through Harbor East. Baltimore Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said Orange Route buses will face the same traffic stops for north-south runners as other vehicles and warned that there could be significant delays and that bus intervals could be disrupted. The Orange Route changes will be in effect between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The north-south Purple Route will be split about 9 a.m.  into a northern loop and a southern loop. On the northern loop, buses will run north on Charles and southbound on St. Paul Street, where vehicles will share the roadway with runners, from Penn Station to Redwood Street. A southern loop will run a highly compressed route from Ostend St. to Warren Avenue on Light and Charles. Normal service will resume about noon.

In some cases, people considering a ride on either Circulator route might find it quicker to walk between downtown points. The southbound part of the Purple Route extends only four blocks by two blocks, but Chopper said the city wanted to offer as much of the normal service as possible.

Bonus good news: The city's official estimates for how long streets will be closed appear to have been padded to give officials a lot of extra wiggle room. The estimate that parts of Key Highway will be closed until 4 p.m. looks quite conservative in view of the fact that even the stragglers are expected to clear that area before noon. Also dubious is the prediction that streets in Southeast Baltimore will remain closed until 5:30 p.m. A reopening in early afternoon is much more likely.

The bad news: Most of the territory within that perimeter will be affected -- either by closings of streets on the race route or sometimes lengthy stoppages of those that cross those streets. Because the 26.2-mile course follows a north-south-north-south path,   east-west routes south of Cold Spring  will be crossed multiple times at different times of the day -- four times in the case of North Avenue and U.S. 40. Southbound JFX travelers could face problems once they get off; northbound travelers could find it difficult to get on.

If you're traveling along a road that crosses the route, try to avoid the times when the pack at the front comes through. You could be in for a long wait. Police are unlikely to stop runners who are in the competition. They may allow traffic through once the field thins out and there are some breaks. It'll be up to the officer's discretion, according to transportation officials.

Here are some hints for coping with the challenges of getting around:

--If traveling southbound on the JFX toward Southwest Baltimore or southbound Interstate 95, North Avenue west of the JFX should be clear for the day as of about 9:30 a.m.  The Monroe/Fulton and Hilton Parkway corridors can be used to bypass the race route. Drivers heading downtown on the JFX should use the Maryland Avenue and Guilford Avenue exits rather than St. Paul Street -- at least until after about 10:30 a.m.

--If trying to reach the JFX from the south, Charles Street will not be affected by the closings -- though there may be some extra traffic -- until north of the I-83 entrance at Penn Station. Motorists coming to Federal Hill or downtown from the south will find  Hanover and Charles streets open all day.

--Conway Street will remain open through the race, giving access to downtown via Charles Street from Interstate 395, but backups near the Camden Yards finish line are possible.

--Paca Street is scheduled to be clear after 9:30 a.m., Russell  after 10 a.m.and Light after 10:30 a.m. 

--Traffic in Canton and Highlandtown is scheduled to return to normal after about 12:30 p.m. During the morning, there will be free-flowing access to those neighborhoods from the south using the Keith Avenue exit of Interstate 95 (just past the Fort McHenry Tunnel, using the right lane). Bear right at the exit and continue onto Clinton Street to Boston Street.

--People heading from West Baltimore to East Baltimore who normally use city streets may want to get on I-95 using Caton Avenue and take the Fort McHenry Tunnel ($2 toll one way) to Keith, Boston, Eastern Avenue, Moravia Road and hook back to their destination. Those going from East Baltimore to West might save time by reversing the process.

--Drivers heading from Southeast Baltimore to North Baltimore can avoid the race route by using Highland to Belair Road and then heading west on Moravia and Cold Spring.

During the day, people traveling downtown should consider using light rail or the Metro subway.

Many Maryland Transit Administration routes, as well as Charm City Circulator service, will be affected by the marathon.

The MTA said 21 of its bus routes would be shortened or split into two separate loops -- with a gap in central Baltimore -- between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., while service on the No. 48 route will not operate at all. Others may be diverted. For specific information on individual routes, check the MTA website. The agency said service will be restored as soon as possible after the race. For specific information, go to the MTA website.

The Charm City Circulator's Orange Route will be shifted from Pratt Street to Baltimore Street for eastbound traffic, and will not make its usual loop through Harbor East. Baltimore Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said Orange Route buses will face the same traffic stops for north-south runners as other vehicles and warned that there could be significant delays and that bus intervals could be disrupted. The Orange Route changes will be in effect between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The north-south Purple Route will be split about 9 a.m.  into a northern loop and a southern loop. On the northern loop, buses will run north on Charles and southbound on St. Paul Street, where vehicles will share the roadway with runners, from Penn Station to Redwood Street. A southern loop will run a highly compressed route from Ostend St. to Warren Avenue on Light and Charles. Normal service will resume about noon.

In some cases, people considering a ride on either Circulator route might find it quicker to walk between downtown points. The southbound part of the Purple Route extends only four blocks by two blocks, but Chopper said the city wanted to offer as much of the normal service as possible.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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