West Baltimore United - A Reconnecting Communities Planning Study

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The Highway to Nowhere is a lasting remnant of past efforts to connect Interstate 70 with Interstates 83 and 95 around Baltimore’s Central Business District. However, those highway connections were never completed. Ultimately, the strong community advocacy of the neighborhoods prevailed; but not before the West Baltimore section of Route 40 was constructed, thus earning the local moniker the "Highway to Nowhere". Construction resulted in the demolition of 971 homes, 62 businesses, subsequently displacing approximately 1,500 residents, many of whom were African Americans. Roughly 50 years later, the road remains as both a physical and symbolic barrier to progress, dividing large swaths of West Baltimore that were once connected. This 1.4-mile long trench serves limited value to the transportation network, is a safety hazard with large grade separations and high speed traffic, and is an eyesore dominating the landscape.


Baltimore City is seeking a federal grant through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program to help us advance improvements long overdue in West Baltimore. If successful in winning this grant, the planning study will assess existing conditions, opportunities, and constraints including constructability, multimodal traffic circulation, market demand, and project financing. These are all elements of more advanced planning that goes beyond visioning and ideas collected in previous planning studies. This study will build from that foundation to identify and set in motion the next steps to finally deliver on those promises made.

The planning study will also establish a robust public engagement process to refine the overall vision and goals and establish performance measures for selecting a preferred concept that can be advanced into design and construction. We hope you will stay involved and share your input as we move forward.

To learn more about the new grant opportunity, visit this link: Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program – Planning Grants and Capital Construction Grants | US Department of Transportation

The Highway to Nowhere is a lasting remnant of past efforts to connect Interstate 70 with Interstates 83 and 95 around Baltimore’s Central Business District. However, those highway connections were never completed. Ultimately, the strong community advocacy of the neighborhoods prevailed; but not before the West Baltimore section of Route 40 was constructed, thus earning the local moniker the "Highway to Nowhere". Construction resulted in the demolition of 971 homes, 62 businesses, subsequently displacing approximately 1,500 residents, many of whom were African Americans. Roughly 50 years later, the road remains as both a physical and symbolic barrier to progress, dividing large swaths of West Baltimore that were once connected. This 1.4-mile long trench serves limited value to the transportation network, is a safety hazard with large grade separations and high speed traffic, and is an eyesore dominating the landscape.


Baltimore City is seeking a federal grant through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program to help us advance improvements long overdue in West Baltimore. If successful in winning this grant, the planning study will assess existing conditions, opportunities, and constraints including constructability, multimodal traffic circulation, market demand, and project financing. These are all elements of more advanced planning that goes beyond visioning and ideas collected in previous planning studies. This study will build from that foundation to identify and set in motion the next steps to finally deliver on those promises made.

The planning study will also establish a robust public engagement process to refine the overall vision and goals and establish performance measures for selecting a preferred concept that can be advanced into design and construction. We hope you will stay involved and share your input as we move forward.

To learn more about the new grant opportunity, visit this link: Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program – Planning Grants and Capital Construction Grants | US Department of Transportation

Some Local History

In the 19th and 20th century, Old West Baltimore was the embodiment of a close-knit community.  Neighbors sat on their porches and laughed with those who strolled the sidewalks. Old West Baltimore was community with dynamic streetscapes full of Black business owners and homeowners. Booker. T Washington, a leading Black educator of the 19th century, once said [there was] “no city in the United States where the colored people own so many comfortable and attractive homes.” 

Between 1942 and 1957, nine separate plans for a city-wide freeway were developed.  The plan was originally conceived as a way to connect Interstate 70 coming from the west with Interstate 95.  This could potentially be a pathway forward for Baltimore, connecting the City to the heart of the interstate system.  The project was abruptly halted – in midstream – citing potential environmental concerns.  In its wake, there is a trench in the heart of west Baltimore that continues to evoke frustration and anger in the hearts of the residents who watched their prosperity sink into a sea of concrete roadways.

In the past 40 years, there have been multiple planning studies to rectify this lone fragment of highway running through West Baltimore.  These past transportation projects have made promises that weren't deliver on, and West Baltimore residents are now weary of planning without tangible results. Baltimore City is committed to finally deliver benefits and build back a collaborative partnership with the people of West Baltimore with the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

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Page last updated: 24 Oct 2022, 05:19 AM