Interstate 170: A Partially Built Baltimore Freeway

Interstate 170 was a freeway that would have connected I-70 near Gwynns Falls into Downtown Baltimore, MD. It existed between 1969-1983, when it was deleted from the Interstate Highway System, as the I-70 extension east of MD-122 was cancelled. 

Interestingly, that cancellation is the reason that I-70 currently ends at a Park-n-Ride.

A 1.4 mile section of the road was built and currently exists as part of US-40, known as the Franklin-Mulberry Expy. The expressway has no exits or entrances outside of its endpoints, and required the removal of a neighborhood which had 900 homes, 60 businesses, and a school. 

As such, this is derisively known as a "Highway to Nowhere". 

Image: Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, "View from the 13th floor of the Metro West office building, the so-called Highway to Nowhere runs 1.2 miles through West Baltimore."

Much of this demolition work took place before 1971, in anticipation of the highway being extended. As it stands, planners in and around the Baltimore area are looking for ways to better use the land, and remove the highway.

I-170 in red, including the US-40 Franklin-Mulberry segment. In 1983, the road was removed from the Interstate Highway System. (Wikipedia Commons)

Like with many cancelled urban freeways, public opposition ultimately won out and the road was cancelled, unfortunately not before what had already had been demolished was gone forever. The Baltimore Sun characterizes the road as "a product of road-bullish governments, local and federal, that made big plans without regard for their immediate human impact. The HTN [Highway to Nowhere] resulted from officials and bureaucrats being obtuse to the communities most directly affected by their engineering ambitions, and backers of the highway miscalculated the level of environmental consciousness that killed the road and saved Leakin Park."

Thanks as always for reading!


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