Reconstruction of the Key Hwy. and Light St. Intersection Begins

| January 31, 2018 | 1 Comments

After seven years of planning and community meetings, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) began work this month on the reconstruction of the Key Hwy. and Light St. intersection. The intersection is located near the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, and Otterbein. The scope of the project includes Light St. from Conway St. to Montgomery St. and Key Hwy. from Light St. to Covington St. Construction, which will include 10 phases, is expected to take two years.

Picture of a project rendering from an STV poster

The stretch of Key Hwy. and Light St., including the intersection, currently has an uneven surface caused by rail tracks that are no longer in use. The goal of the project is to improve this surface, as well as to improve the flow of traffic, make it more pedestrian-friendly, and update stormwater management and conduit infrastructure.

In 2012, a traffic circle was proposed for the intersection but the project became too large and expensive, and presented concerns regarding pedestrian safety, according to City officials. It was scrapped and the project went in a different direction. “They are able to use the same amount of money to make improvements from Conway all the way to Covington, as opposed to just that one intersection,” former Councilman William Cole told SouthBMore.com in 2013.

Project engineers also said at a public meeting in October that a traffic circle would be a safety concern for blind pedestrians in the area.

Rendering from the previous plan

The plan, which was first presented in 2013 and has since undergone some changes, does away with the traffic circle and adds several new medians, green spaces, traffic lights, and curb bump-outs. The project specifications are listed as:

  • Full Depth Roadway Reconstruction with Complete Rail Track Removal
  • Concrete Roadway Repairs
  • Installation of New Traffic Signals – Key Highway @ Light Street, Key Highway @ William Street; Key Highway @ Covington Street – ACPS/CPS Crosswalk Revision
  • New Signing and Pavement Markings
  • Storm Drain Improvements, Stormwater Management
  • Increase to the Capacity of Existing Conduit System
  • Replacement of Water Line
  • Median Installation along Key Highway from Battery Avenue to Covington Street
  • Removal of Existing Berm between Key Highway and Rash Field (Battery Avenue to Covington Street/Rusty Scupper)
  • Gwynns Falls Trail Extension
  • Landscaping, Sidewalk & ADA Upgrades, Gwynns Falls Trail Extension

Additionally, a southbound lane of Light St. will be eliminated between Lee St. and Key Hwy. with a sidewalk extension. Cars traveling southbound into Federal Hill on Light St. will have a separate lane which will be divided by a new median. There will continue to be a traffic signal at southbound Light St. and Key Hwy. to protect pedestrians. This stretch will also have a new bike lane.

An existing median at Hughes St., Key Hwy., and Light St. will be expanded, eliminating a small stretch of Hughes St. that connects to Light St. This median will include a new walkway.

Picture of a project rendering from an STV poster

Curb bump-outs will surround the off-street parking along the south side of Key Hwy. Many new trees will planted along sidewalks and medians.

STV is the designer of the project and Manuel Luis Construction Company, Inc. was rewarded the $6,325,113.50 contract from DOT.

The project team said at the October public meeting that two lanes of Key Hwy. will always be reserved for the direction of high traffic on Key Hwy. during construction. They also noted that pedestrian accessibility at Key Hwy. and Light St. will be limited during construction. They are rerouting pedestrian traffic towards William St. and Key Hwy. during construction where a new traffic signal will be installed in the first phase. The off-street parking along Key Hwy. will only be eliminated for “weeks, not months” during resurfacing.

Redevelopment of the adjacent Rash Field is expected to begin this summer.

Picture of a project rendering from an STV poster

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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