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Baltimore Washington International Airport as its name suggests, serves as a hub for air travel for both Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It is one of three major airports in the area, the others being Dulles Airport, located near Herndon, Virginia, and Reagan National Airport, located near Alexandria, Virginia. On Air charts and weather maps, Baltimore Washington International Airport is officially designated by the FAA as BWI. For the rest of the writeup, I will refer to the airport simply as BWI.

Vital Statistics

Year Opened: 1950, as Friendship Airport
Daily Passenger Traffic: 55,000 (2001)
Flight Operations per day: 907 (2001)
Terminal Space: 1.4 million square feet
Number of Employees: 14,000
Freight and Mail Volume: 496 Million pounds (2001)
Estimated Economic Impact on Maryland: 7.2 billion dollars (2000)


BWI is located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland near Linthicum on about 3,600 acres, about 9 miles south of Baltimore, at 39.175 North latitude, 76.67 West longitude.

History of BWI

BWI started life in 1947 when ground was broken for a new airport known as Friendship Airport, and was opened in 1950. Prior to that, most air traffic flew in and out of Logan Field, which was located near the site of the GM Assembly Plant in Southeast Baltimore. Friendship Airport was one of the most advanced airports of its time, It was the eastern end of the first transcontinental flight by the Boeing 707, in 1957, and where McDonnell Douglas celebrated certification of the Douglas DC-8 in 1959.

In 1972, the Maryland Department of Transportation brought Friendship Airport from Baltimore for $36 million. MDOT changed the name of Friendship Airport to BWI in 1974, and announced plans for major expansion and rennovations. 1979 saw the completion of a major expansion of the terminal, to 635,000 square feet.

Other major milestones include:

1980:The BWI Amtrak station opens
1983:The A new modern and expanded FAA control tower is completed
1984 Passenger traffic for the year tops 6 million, increasing 28 percent in one year
1986 A new master plan is presented
1988 A new commuter terminal is opened
1989 Passenger traffic tops 10 million for the year
1990 Interstate 195 opens, connecting the airport directly to I-95
1994 Construction begins on the new International Pier
1995 Passenger Traffic top 13 million
1997 Passenger traffic top 14 million, new International Pier opens in December
1999 Passenger traffic tops 19 million.Plans to rennovate terminals A and B are announced
2001 Ground is broken for a 1.8 billion dollar plan of expansion and improvements. Passenger traffic tops 20 million. Construction is everywhere!
2002 In the wake of the events of 9/11, BWI is named as a test site for new security technologies and measures to be adopted at other airports.


BWI has four runways, plus a helipad. They are:

Runway 10/28 The main east-west runway Length 10,502 feet, width: 200 feet, Maximum weight 790,000 lbs
Runway 15R/33L: Length 9501 feet, Width 150 feet, Maximum weight 790,000 lbs
Runway 15L/33R: General Aviation runway. Length 5000 feet, Width 100 feet, Maximum weight 60,000 lbs
Runway 4/22 Length 6000 feet, Width 150 feet, Maximum weight 728,000 lbs
Helipad 100 by 100 feet

Important Roads near BWI

Interstate 195

BWI's main service road is Interstate 195, which starts at I-95, about 3 miles south of I-695, which is the southwest side of the Baltimore Beltway. I-195 ends at the airport, and has interchanges at I-95, Route 1, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Aviation Boulevard.

Aviation Boulevard

Aviation Boulevard, provides access to many, if not most airport services and cargo facilities. Its entire length has been designated as part of the Airport Loop, along with MD 162 and the part of MD 176 (Dorsey Road) that borders the south edge of airport property. Aviation Boulevard's east end is designated Maryland 162. It skirts around the eastern and northern end of the airport and intersects with and turns into Maryland 170, which heads south along the western edge of the airport past Northrop Grumman, and ends at Fort Meade.

Nursery Road and Elkridge Landing Road

Another major road in the area is Nursery Road, a boulevard which is the address for many of the airport area hotels and aviation related businesses in the area. Nursery Road is accesed by an exit on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, or by turning onto Elkridge Landing Road off Aviation Boulevard. Travelling from Aviation Boulevard, on Elkridge Landing Road, you can access Nursery Road about a half mile down on the right.

Dorsey Road and Maryland Route 100

These two roads run along the south end of the airport. Dorsey Road is the old road, and provides access to businesses there, and runs from Glen Burnie to Ridge Road, just west of the airport. Maryland Route 100 is an Interstate class highway which has taken over most of the traffic load for, and partially swallowed up Dorsey Road. It starts at US Route 29 near Ellicott City and runs southeast through Columbia, Elkridge, Hanover, Glen Burnie, and Pasadena.

Flying Into or out of BWI

Flying out

If you live in the Baltimore-Washington area, the BWI Passenger Terminal is accessed via Interstate 195, which ends at the airport. Parking can be had at the garage near the terminal, but is extremely expensive, 30 dollars a day at last recollection. A better choice for longer term parking is to park in one of the satellite parking lots. MDOT operates a number of lots, and there are some private lots as well, scattered along Aviation Boulevard and Dorsey Road, and on Stoney Run Road. These lots generally cost under 10 dollars a day in 2003, and have frequent service by shuttle busses to take you to the terminal. The Light Rail and Amtrak trains also service BWI, as well as the MTA Bus System if you don't want to park near the airport. Once you arrive at the terminal, you will notice that the terminal has two levels. Outgoing flights use the upper level or concourse, and incoming flights use the lower concourse. If you are dropping off or picking up passengers at the airport, the airport suggests you use the garage across from the terminal. Parking is expensive, but MDOT gives you the first hour free, which should be enough time to drop off or pick up a passenger or package. They do this to reduce congestion at the terminal. Once inside, you will go through the usual security screenings before boarding. As a test site for the FAA, things change on an almost daily basis, so I can make no specific recommendations.

Flying In

BWI is a good destination airport for most of central Maryland and for Washington, D.C. and part of the Eastern Shore. If you need to rent a car once on the ground, there is a new consolidated car rental facility that opened in December of 2003. The facility is located on Stoney Run Road, about a mile from the airport and MDOT provides frequent shuttle bus service to and from the facility. A cab ride into Baltimore will cost about 20 bucks or so. If you will be staying at a hotel near the airport, consult the road guide above. Most of the large hotels are on Nursery Road or Elkridge Landing road, and tend to get cheaper the farther you get from the airport.

Traveller's Alert!! The MTA is currently double tracking the south portion of the Light Rail line from Camden Yards to BWI. As a result, the light rail will be closed until October,2004. Updates as they become available.

References and links:

To find out more about BWI, check out the following links:


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