Several drivers wrote in to my online discussion Monday complaining about the traffic congestion around the new Maryland Live! Casino on Arundel Mills Boulevard just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. I hope the parkway interchange that opened at noon Monday will help them.
This is one one commenter described traffic conditions.
Traffic congestion near new casino: I am a pilot who flies out of BWI and owns a nice condo near Arundel Mills. It’s convenient to the
airport and I enjoy living close to the mall. I was out of town last week so don’t know if you reported on the incredible gridlock the new casino is causing. ... I’m afraid I may have to stay over at the airport the night before flying out or I might not be able to make it.”
The Maryland Live! Casino opened at 10 p.m. last Wednesday. Tens of thousands of drivers used either Route 100 or the parkway to reach it. The new interchange, where construction began at the start of May, opened at midday Monday. Drivers can now use all of its connections between the parkway and Arundel Mills Boulevard, just west of the casino and Arundel Mills Mall, though additional work will continue through the summer.
The Maryland State Highway Administration expects the opening will ease congestion, especially with the reopening of the parkway’s southbound connections, which were closed for the construction.
The SHA also has its safety patrol vehicles out monitoring traffic on the parkway and Route 100 so they can respond quickly to traffic incidents and breakdowns. There are four portable message boards on those roads to relay traffic information.
While the new interchange should help, it’s likely there will be a learning curve for drivers since it’s a new style interchange for Maryland, called a diverging diamond. (See a video.)
This is called a diverging diamond because it’s a diamond-shaped interchange with diverging lanes in the middle. The intention is to improve safety and traffic flow by eliminating the roundabouts on either side of the parkway and having the traffic lanes on the boulevard cross over each other so the traffic movement is simplified.
On a map, it looks weird, because the traffic lanes cross over, but a driver should find the connections easier while moving through the interchange.
The points where the lanes cross over are controlled by traffic signals.
The Cordish Companies, developers of the casino, will cover the $5 million cost of the project, in coordination with the SHA and Anne Arundel County.