Interstate 68 is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a network of roads intended to foster economic development throughout the Appalachian region. The route followed by I-68 was first designated as Corridor E by the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965.
Project Type:Limited Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:52,575 Length (mi):76.00
Economic Distress:1.20 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):156 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.35
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.78 Market Size:32,894 Airport Travel Distance:83.2003 Topography:16
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:MD County:County
City:N/A Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:39.653680 / -79.438726
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:2005
Constr. Start Date:1966 Constr. End Date:1991
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):378,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):1,209,172,539 Actual Cost (curr $):1,708,257,711
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||28185900.00||23292200.00||51478100.00|
|Output (in $M's)||81809600.00||67605500.00||149415100.00|
The Federal Highway Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission constructed the 82 miles of Interstate 68 in western Maryland over a 28-year period between 1963 and 1991. The four-lane highway, which replaced a two-lane state highway, passes through Allegheny and Garrett Counties, an area steeped in an economic history of manufacturing, natural resource production, and tourism. During the mid-20th century, the region suffered from job losses in the natural resource and heavy manufacturing sectors. The construction of Interstate 68 has helped the region adapt to these losses by attracting new tourism and investment dollars from the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and new manufacturing and back office uses that are well-served by the improved transportation access to the area. In total, an estimated 800 to 1,000 jobs have been attracted to the region as a result of I-68.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Allegheny and Garrett Counties are located in the western Maryland panhandle and are bordered by Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the west and south. The region is located approximately 140 miles west of Baltimore, 135 miles northwest of Washington, DC, and 100 miles south of Pittsburgh.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Rugged mountain terrain characterizes the sparsely populated area, with 103,596 people spread over 664 square miles. The two counties have an average per capita personal income of $22,747, well below the state average of $36,590.
Traditionally, natural resource industries (coal mining, farming and timber), tourism, and manufacturing composed the economic base of the region in roughly equal proportions. Coal mines have closed over time, resulting in the loss of many jobs. Recent decades have also seen a decline in manufacturing, as large manufacturers of tires, windshield glass, synthetic fibers, and eye care products have left the region.
Interstate 68 is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a network of roads intended to foster economic development throughout the Appalachian region. The route followed by I-68 was first designated Corridor E by the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965. The highway runs from Interstate 70 in Hancock, Maryland (in Washington County) in the east to the junction of Interstate 79 near Morgantown, West Virginia in the west. The highway serves to connect the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas with the Midwest as a toll-free alternative to I-70, which runs through Pennsylvania. The Maryland portion of the road is 82 miles long.
Prior to construction of the interstate, east-west traffic through the Maryland panhandle traveled on US Route 40, a two-lane road characterized by steep inclines and hairpin turns. Travel was slow and sometimes dangerous.
Construction on Interstate 68 began in 1963 with the first two sections completed in 1966. Construction continued in sections over the next 25 years. The final 19 miles of the roadway between Cumberland and Hagerstown were completed in 1991. The Sideling Hill Cut, a four and a half mile section in western Maryland, posed a particularly difficult engineering challenge, and has been turned into a tourist site, with a visitor's center and museum describing how the cut was made through the mountains, and providing descriptions of the geology of the area. In total, the construction of Interstate 68 in Maryland cost $937 million (1991$).
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The project improved safety and greatly reduced travel times to and from surrounding metropolitan areas. The interstate reduced travel time between the Baltimore and Washington, DC metropolitan areas, including to Baltimore International Airport, Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan International Airport, from as much as four hours to just two or two and a half hours.
Average Annual Daily Trips on Corridor E in Garrett and Allegheny Counties in 2002 ranged from 12,825 at the Maryland-West Virginia state line, to 49,825 near downtown Cumberland. Both car and truck vehicle miles of travel (VMT) on the entire length of Corridor E (from Hancock, MD in the east to Morgantown, WV in the west) increased by 4% from before construction to 1995. I-68 has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, 10 miles per hour faster than the posted speed on much of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the alternative east-west route serving the region.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The completion of I-68 through western Maryland is credited with helping to stabilize a declining economy. Although several large manufacturers have left, the region has successfully attracted some new manufacturing and distribution businesses. For some, such as Closet Made (a manufacturer of closet organizers with 75 employees), Robison Supply (a manufacturer of gutters and downspouts with 5 employees), and Total Biz Fulfillment (shipping, packaging and distribution) in Garret County, I-68 was an important factor in their decision to locate in the region. Allegheny County has succeeded in attracting a Blue Cross/Blue Shield accounts center (112 employees), PharmaCare (a pharmacy distribution company with 130 jobs), and InfoSpherix (a telecom/customer service center with 435 employees), in part due to the better access to labor and customers provided by the interstate.
Interchanges along the I-68 corridor have attracted several fast food restaurants, gas stations, truck stops, lodging establishments, and other traveler and trucker services. There are approximately 70 of these businesses at corridor interchanges, with an estimated total of 750 jobs.
Economic development professionals in both counties point to the positive impact the interstate has had on the growth of the tourism industry. Prior to construction of the interstate, the Deep Creek Lake area of Garrett County primarily attracted tourists and second-home owners from the blue-collar population around Pittsburgh. After the road was built, many more affluent people from these metropolitan areas began purchasing second homes in Garrett County. One interviewee stated that in the 1970's, a second home at Deep Creek Lake selling for $100,000 was a high-end home. Now there are several vacation homes selling in excess of $3 million dollars on the shores of Deep Creek Lake. With the development of more second homes, the county has seen an increase in retail and service establishments. Sales and Use Tax receipts have increased from $7.5 million in 1996 to over $15.2 million in 2006.
While Allegheny County has fewer second homes, the newly developed Rocky Gap Resort, complete with an award-winning Jack Nicklaus golf course, opened adjacent to the Rocky Gap State Park at an I-68 interchange. According to a spokesman for the county, this development would not have happened without the interstate.
The growth in second home prices has contributed to a corresponding (although not as dramatic) increase in the prices of primary residences. In Garrett County, homes that sold for $100,000 as recently as 10 years ago now sell for $150,000 to $200,000. In 2007, Forbes Magazine listed Allegheny County among the top ten areas for growth in housing values. While home prices are still less expensive than most areas of Maryland, wages in the region have not seen a corresponding increase, and housing price increases are stretching the means of some residents.
The spokesperson for Garret County did note one negative impact of the highway. The small town of Grantsville has experienced an increase in crime that is attributed to pass-through traffic from the Interstate. Overall, Interstate 68 has had modest impacts on employment growth over the past few decades, with approximately 800 to 1,000 new jobs in manufacturing, tourism, and highway-related services added to the region as result of the highway. Retail sales and property values have also increased because of the new tourism and second home industries served by the highway.
Land use and economic development in Garrett and Allegheny Counties are somewhat constrained by state land use policy. In 1997, Governor Paris Glendening introduced a statewide ?smart growth? initiative aimed at curbing sprawl. Counties were asked to submit plans showing priority growth areas. Under the initiative, state financing for infrastructure would be targeted to already developed areas, or areas where infrastructure already existed. Given the relatively undeveloped character of Garrett and Allegheny Counties, there were fewer priority development areas in the region, and, thus, less state money available to support economic development efforts. Some economic development officials in the region believe the state policy suppressed the potential of Interstate 68 for attracting new businesses to the area.
Both counties have actively worked to offset the job loss at large manufacturing plants by developing several industrial and business parks aimed at attracting manufacturing, high tech, and back office jobs. Both counties experienced increases in tourism, particularly around Deep Creek Lake (Garrett County) and Rocky Gap (Allegheny County.) Allegheny County successfully competed to attract several new prisons to the area, creating new job opportunities for residents. While both the industrial parks and the tourism industry have benefited from the access provided by the highway, the location of the prisons in the region was not influenced by the presence of the highway.
The study area continues to lag in economic performance compared to the state and the nation. Relative to the state of Maryland, several factors that inhibit the region's competitive position include the skill and educational levels of its labor force, its population density, its distance from a commercial airport, freight marine port, rail intermodal facilities, energy costs, and taxes. Low housing costs represent a competitive advantage for the region.
Wilbur Smith Associates, Appalachian Development Highways Economic Impact Studies, July 1998.http://www.roadstothefuture.com/I68_MD.html http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/econdev/i68md.htm http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/econdev/i68md0505.htm http://www.allstays.com/Special/exits-I68-md-map.htm
OrganizationFHWA Allegheny County Economic Development Garrett County Economic Development