Emergency Transportation Operations

Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments

Baltimore, Maryland

#16-Most Congested
#20-Population (2,667,000)
INRIX® National Traffic Scorecard 2009

map of Baltimore, Maryland

The Plan

The Baltimore evacuation plan, written in 2004, is the oldest of the plans currently in use. The MDSHA plans to finish the modeling portion for evaluating and monitoring the plan.

All of the State's evacuation plans link together to ensure that should motorists need to evacuate from whatever city or site, they can be directed to the appropriate roads. As funding becomes available and when major changes in the roadway network occur, the older plans are updated. The Southern Maryland plans were completed about 18 months ago; the Eastern Shore plan is updated annually or bi-annually depending on any recent changes. The Eastern Shore plan is developed collaboratively with Delaware. The Anne Arundel County plan was completed about a year ago and links both the Washington, Baltimore, and Southern Maryland plans with the Eastern Shore and vice versa.

New planning efforts in the Baltimore metropolitan area will focus on Harford and Cecil counties north of Baltimore. This will also help address the needs for evacuation from such places as Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant, and other hazards including hurricane scenarios as well as routes to Delaware. This effort will be completed by the summer of 2010. When the Baltimore plan is updated, the transportation plan will incorporate a number of the many technologies and tools that the MDSHA has developed in recent years. One such tool used in this plan is the Regional Evacuation Traffic Monitoring and Management tool which relies on vehicle detection deployed in critical junctions along the roadway network which is the basis for real-time information and modeling for the Eastern Shore, Washington, DC, region, and, soon, the Baltimore region. As a result of including these tools, the Baltimore plan will be more dynamic. The use of real-time information and modeling will provide dynamic information that will allow for real-time changes and decisions. During an evacuation, operators can monitor evacuation routes to see which roads are at capacity and will be able to shift traffic in real time. What remains is to get the necessary infrastructure in place to accommodate these traffic shifts.

In addition, work is being done to see which roads out of Baltimore can be used for contraflow operations. Multimodal models and how transit can help to evacuate both Baltimore and the NCR will also be incorporated into the plan.

The MDSHA staff facilitates the preparation of the evacuation plan and relies on local stakeholders to develop the plans. Virginia, Delaware, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania coordinate with MDSHA in the development of their plans. Pennsylvania approached the MDSHA as they were developing their plans to coordinate border plans for Harford County. Eventually, through the All Hazards Consortium, the Maryland plans will reach to West Virginia.

Top Highway Impediments

Top Highway Impediments

  • Evacuation Plan Needs Updating
  • Infrastructure Impediments-Roadways
  • Region Lacks a Coordinated Signal Timing System

Study respondents reported that the most significant impediments along NHS routes that may impact effective large-scale, mass evacuations from the Baltimore metropolitan area include:

  1. Evacuation Plan Needs Updating - The Evacuation Plan is the oldest provided for the study, but it will be updated in the near future.
  2. Infrastructure Impediments-Roadways - In the unlikely event that contraflow were to be implemented, to be effective for moving large numbers of people out of Baltimore, Route 295 does not have enough receiving lanes and would require some reconfigurations and crossovers. While there are not enough lanes, when the shoulders are used, movement is less constrained. Improvements would also be needed for the medians.
  3. Region Lacks a Coordinated Signal Timing System - Baltimore does not have a regional, coordinated traffic signal timing system.

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