Lengthening Merge Lane at I-70/I-81 Interchange Helps Motorists and Truckers

(June 30, 2016) – Beginning after the Independence Day Holiday, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) will lengthen the merge lane for traffic coming from each direction of I-70 to northbound I-81 to Halfway Boulevard, a distance of one-half mile.  SHA expects the $4.3 million project to be complete summer 2017, weather permitting.

“The merge area from I-70 to northbound I-81 is very short, especially when considering the large volume of commercial trucks traveling in this area”, said SHA District 6 Engineer Anthony Crawford.  “This project extends the ramp from I-70 to northbound I-81 to both Halfway Boulevard exits, which will allow a much longer/safer merge area for motorists.”  

In addition to widening northbound I-81 between I-70 and Halfway Boulevard to accommodate the longer merge lane, SHA will also create grass drainage swales in the center median, and grind, resurface and restripe the interstate, which will be the last phase of the project during summer 2017.

Although most of the work will be constructed behind concrete barrier, motorists should expect the following driving conditions during construction:

• Shorter merge area from I-70 to northbound I-81;

• Narrowed exit ramps from northbound I-81 to Halfway Boulevard; and

• Temporary nighttime left lane closures in both directions of I-81 for the median drainage work.

Approximately 62,000 vehicles use this section of I-81 each day with trucks being about 30 percent (18,600) of the traffic.  Motorists and truckers should plan for extra travel time due to the narrowed lanes in the work zone.

While SHA and its transportation partners work hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.  Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands.

A complete listing of current roadway projects is included in e-Road Ready 2016, the online brochure. Maryland drivers can also know before they go by calling 511 or visiting for live traffic updates, including construction delays and lane closures.