Emergency pothole repairs will begin soon on a stretch of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that has been likened to a highway motorists would find in a poverty-stricken country.
The National Park Service announced Wednesday that it will begin short-term repairs to the road this weekend.
The decision follows weeks of pressure from Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), Maryland’s congressional delegation and the public.
The park service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, met with Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s staff last Friday and was urged to address the deterioration of the road, which has hundreds of potholes and has led to untold vehicle damage and commuter delays.
“We urged them to treat this as an emergency situation … because the road conditions are unacceptable and unsafe,” Van Hollen (D) said in an interview. “And they agreed.”
The senator said the agency will use its emergency contract authority to fix the parkway.
“What that means is that they will begin filling potholes on an expedited basis this weekend … [using] a machine they call the pothole killer,” Van Hollen said. “And then within weeks, they will begin the full resurfacing effort.”
The federal official in charge of the road said commuters should see improvements by Monday.
“We take our responsibility for the parkway very seriously and are making good on our promise to drivers to do everything in our power to improve the road,” Baltimore-Washington Parkway Superintendent Matt Carroll said.
“National Park Service crews have been working tirelessly. The special patching this weekend should improve driving right away and will be quickly followed by repaving.”
Hogan welcomed the news.
“The administration is right to recognize the overwhelming outcry from Marylanders about the absolutely horrible conditions on 295,” he said in a statement. “It should not have taken this long, but what is most important is that we fix the road now.”
Hogan has called for the federal government to transfer the parkway to the state, and he has urged Maryland’s congressional delegation, with whom he will meet on Friday, to support his efforts.
Van Hollen said the issue goes “way beyond the need to keep the existing road in good repair.”
He noted there are two major transportation proposals involving the parkway corridor — one for a maglev high-speed train system connecting Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and another for a transit system called Hyperloop that is backed by billionaire tech guru Elon Musk.
“So there are lots of big questions,” Van Hollen said. “We should have a full and transparent discussion about what exactly the state would do with the parkway right of way if it was transferred to Maryland.”
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