Baltimore

The Most Pointless Road in Baltimore

A bird's-eye view of the Highway to Nowhere

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Last week I wrote a story about West Baltimore's infamous Highway to Nowhere: a 1.4-mile freeway that runs between two parallel streets, dumping drivers back on the same road they started from. It didn't occur to me when I posted it, but the simplest way to illustrate the sheer uselessness of this highway is with an aerial view:

Does the overgrown grass in the median count as "green space"?
Google

For those two strips of asphalt, the authorities bulldozed 971 homes, 62 businesses, and the community they sustained.

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  1. Without government, who would build us Roadz to nowhere?

    1. Without government, who will build Roadz?

      1. Someone with an interest in getting to point B

    2. While tearing down a neighborhood for a 1.4 mile freeway is plainly stupid, I can understand the idea of wanting to optimize traffic. It looks like the local streets have a ton of cross streets which can really snarl traffic. For busy roads this can really be a nightmare for people and businesses along the stretch of road. Judging from the map it looks like they were trying to divert traffic which was only passing through the neighborhood. With all that being said, destroying a neighborhood for 1.4 miles of “assumed” traffic relief is wrong.

      1. I don’t know when the picture was taken but if you zoom in there is not one single car on the road.

        1. We are also talking about a 40-50 year old stretch of road. I’m sure traffic patterns have changed during the ensuing years. Then again they may have never been a true need for the road and this is an even bigger travesty than I originally thought.

  2. LOL
    now watch as they continue to elect Democrats in Baltimore

    nothing will change

    1. LOL
      Freeways tore through poor neighborhoods in every city in America – red or blue.

      1. Yeah the city council doesn’t have much say, ultimately, in eminent domain exercised by the state or federal governments. However, they likely played some role in getting this thing off the ground in the first place. But that really doesn’t have much to do with the D or R next to their names.

        1. No it doesn’t. Urban freeways were all the rage in the mid-20th century – only crackpots were bothered by the fact that people were already living there.

          1. I think that the interest in urban freeways was the first sign that the cities were failing. People tolerated the lack of land and fresh air in the cities because the cost of living was cheap. When that became inverted, people demanded freeways to get the hell out of the cities. Somewhere around that time, the city governments should have undergone a drastic shift to restore the erstwhile values of city living. Instead, they decided to prog harder, which only works when you’ve got a lasting cash cow to siphon money from (US government, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc.).

            1. I think whether or not the cities had been able to reverse that trend, the freeways were a necessity.
              Not just for getting into and out of the cities, but even to get from one side to another. Surface streets alone can’t cut it.

              About 18 years back when I was a newb to the Chicago area and very nervous about driving on the expressways, I once found myself in Chicago near the lakefront. I had came in from Indiana on the expressways, and the experience was rather unpleasant. I didn’t feel up to taking another expressway out to get to my apartment in Itasca. I instead took Irving Park Road from LSD.

              It took me 3 hours to get from LSD to Itasca taking Irving Park Rd, 2/3rds of that time was spent just getting to Harlem Av.
              The same trip could have been made on the expressways in about 45 minutes.

              Probably didn’t help that the Taste was going on at that time, but then I was a newb and didn’t even know wtf the Taste was.

              1. the freeways were a necessity

                The people whose neighborhoods were wiped out might think differently.

            2. I would move out of this God forsaken city, but without a freeway how will I ever leave?

              You really believe that? Isn’t it much more likely the demand for urban freeways was from people who already fled to the suburbs and wanted a faster way to get to work downtown?

              1. I would move out of this God forsaken city, but without a freeway how will I ever leave? You really believe that?

                No, which is why I suggest reading what I wrote for content not just easily quotable misrepresentations.

                The freeways were an indicator. So too were the suburbs. Most likely, the causality flowed both ways (in a feedback loop). People left early before the freeways, and wanted them to get back into the city to work. Other people waited until the freeways were built before moving out of the city. Regardless, the failure of the cities to provide for the people living and working in them remains clear, and that was my point.

                1. You wrote:

                  I think that the interest in urban freeways was the first sign that the cities were failing. People tolerated the lack of land and fresh air in the cities because the cost of living was cheap. When that became inverted, people demanded freeways to get the hell out of the cities.

                  I fully agree with your first 2 sentences. The final sentence however is illogical and untrue. What came first the suburbs or the freeway? The suburbs appeared first, and then freeways were built to move commuter traffic off the local roads. I further agree with your reply that the arrival of freeways facilitated more people leaving the city. It’s plainly obvious freeways made the suburbs more attractive than cities by providing quick and easy commuting.

      2. Most of those freeways actually took people places they actually wanted to go…out of the city.

        1. Indeed, and the city governments are definitely not blameless with regard to the conditions that fostered such a trend.

        2. I guess you have to crack a few eggs, right?

        3. Route 280 out of Newark – the “White Flight” highway.

  3. It’s OK: this was rationally related to some public purpose, I’m sure.

    1. Construction contracts to campaign donors.

      1. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

        1. Next should come a project to tear down the freeway and put in ‘smart growth’ urban high-density housing.

          They can keep this going forever, the equivalent of paying some people to dig up holes and others to fill them in.

          1. Old guy sitting on his porch, watching a county truck coming down the road. It stops, driver gets out, digs a hole, gets back in.

            Truck sits for 5 minutes.

            Passenger gets out, fills in the hole, gets back in, truck moves 50 feet down the road. Rinse, repeat, etc.

            Finally the truck gets close enough that the old guy on the porch can yell to ask them what they are doing.

            “Oh, we’re from the highway beautification project, planting trees.”

            Old guy says he don’t see no trees.

            “Yeh, that guy’s out sick today.”

          2. Next should come a project to tear down the freeway and put in ‘smart growth’ urban high-density housing.

            Is this snark? Because in the middle of a high-density urban area, that would kind of make sense.

    2. Yes, the intent was to bulldoze through thousands more homes to the left in the screenshot so the folks with nice jobs downtown could get home to the suburbs a little faster.

      1. The intent was to build mostly through a park – a park which is mostly just used as a place to dump bodies.

        I always ran into the opposite problem in Baltimore. It was a nightmare to commute to my nice job in the suburbs (which is where the nice jobs are in Baltimore) from my home in Baltimore because they never finished connecting any of the freeways. So every day, for a decade, I spent 20-25 minutes navigating about 4 miles of city streets to get to the freeway, where I then went the last 15 miles in under 15 minutes.

        1. they never finished connecting any of the freeways

          How dare the little people in the way rise up and say enough of this shit.

          1. Meh. I’ve lived in cities where the freeways connect and I’ve lived in places like Baltimore where they never finished the system. I’ve always believed that Baltimore has probably suffered economically because of how difficult it is to get in and out of the city.

  4. “For that strip of asphalt, the authorities bulldozed 971 homes, 62 businesses, and the community they sustained.”

    THIS IS WHY WE NEED MORE GOVERNMENT AND TOP PEOPLE

  5. On second thought, let’s not go to Maryland. Tis a silly place.

    1. They eat ham and jam and spam a lot.

  6. That’s good work there, boys.

  7. Pointless? I’m sure the people who got the contract to build it would beg to differ.

    1. And Baltimore progressives displaced hundreds of black people. Sounds like win win to me.

    2. THIS COUNTRY NEEDS INFRASTRUCTURE

      INFRA!!

  8. “Government is just what we choose to bulldoze together.”

    1. +1 Robert Moses

  9. dumping drivers back on the same road they started from

    A lot quicker than had they stayed on that road, thank you very much!

  10. Why do you want us to turn into Somalia? Where would we be without ROADZ?

  11. It’s ok. We’re building an incredibly complex tunnel in soft slurry soil in earthquake country right next to a dodgy sea wall. In earthquake country. If you’re not buried alive, you’ll drown. And we’re doing this to replace a perfectly good elevated freeway.

    Well, to be fair, the project is at a complete standstill because the boring machine ran into “unexpected” soil conditions, broke down and the south end of downtown started sinking. Other than that, it’s full speed ahead and at three times the budget!

    1. You’re just not hitting it hard enough!

  12. It looks like the perfect strip to do some illegal racing on…it even has greenery on the sides for spectators.

    1. I think the highway’s elevated, so people in the grass wouldn’t actually be able to see the race.

      That would actually be kinda cool if they did have Fast & Furious style races over there, though. If they did, those movies could have been set in Baltimore and poor Paul Walkler might still be alive.

      1. No, it’s depressed, like the people.

  13. That highway is the only thing that separates West Baltimore from Somalia.

  14. If they bulldozed and paved over the rest of Baltimore, think of all the problems that would be solved.

  15. Downtown outdoor target range for cops or a drag strip for paddy wagons.

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