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June 22, 2009

Answer to Friday bonus quiz

A recent Maryland governor proposed slapping a $50 surcharge on traffic fines and using the extra money to pay transportation projects? Which one was it?

a.) William Donald Schaefer

b.) Parris N. Glendening

c.) Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

d.) Martin O’Malley

Answer: c.) Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. proposed raising $40 million for the transportation trust fund in 2004 by adding a $50 surcharge to traffic ticket convictions for some moving violations. He proposed raising another $11 million with a $200 surcharge foor those found guilty of drunken driving. The ideas died in a General Assembly committee.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:25 PM | | Comments (4)


Your personal comments wouldn't have anything to do with Ehrlich's possible run for Governor now would it? How many increases in fees could we site for O'Malley? Act responsibly Dresser!

Mr. Dresser is reporting the truth, Mr. Ritter. The fact is that Republicans and Democrats all raise taxes and all raise fees, and sometimes it is necessary and sometimes it is a good idea and sometimes it is to feed an enormously wasteful government. (I think Gov. Ehrlich also promoted the "flush tax").
It is pure propaganda to say that Democrats "tax and spend", since Republicans do that as well.

Please reread my comment, I didn't say it wasn't true, but his timing is suspect. O'Malley has raised taxes in MD far more then any Governor in the past. I hope he reports his increases as well!

This is not relevant to this topic, but I was wondering if you could investigate something to determine if this is Police policy or a there is a case of overzealous Baltimore City Traffic Officers currently.

As you may or may not know, the west bound intersection of Lombard @ Light and the south bound intersection of Light @ Pratt have changed their turn only lanes over the past 2+ weeks.

Yesterday, as I was driving home, I was in the third lane from the left attempting to go straight down Light street towards the Science Center. A driver who was clearly unfamiliar with the turn only lanes needed to go to his right in order to continue going straight. He signaled and I let him in approximately 15 yards from the intersection. As he started to merge, the traffic officer @ Light and Pratt began to blow her whistle and pointing at the driver that had just merged in front of me.

Here's where the story got interesting. As we approached the intersection, the traffic officer, stepped in front of the car in front of me, blowing her whistle and forcing the driver to return to the lane that he had come from and make a left on Pratt. The car that I had allowed to merge was completely in the lane of traffic and was only attempting to get out of the turn only lane, however this particular traffic officer would not allow him to do this and forced him to turn left on Pratt.

We were all somewhat amazed as the standoff seemed to take about 30 seconds (I know that we missed the light that had just turned green) and many of us were in amazement of what the traffic officer had done.

My question is, what is the policy that these traffic officers use to force people to remain in turn only lanes. I've seen traffic officers force people to turn if they have entered the intersection and attempted to merge left or right out of a turn only lane, however this is the third or fourth time that I've seen a Baltimore Traffic Officer not allow a car to go straight if they are attempting to get out of a turn only lane 10+yards in front of the intersection.

On the other hand, maybe this is just a rule of the road of which I am unaware (but it's new to me after 20+ years of driving!)

We seem to have a handful of great traffic officers that help the flow of traffic at rush hour downtown. Most of us know who they are and give them a friendly honk as we drive by. But there seem to be a few that are clueless (talking on their bluetooth, standing on the side of the road, shooting the breeze with a buddy).

One final thought, the BPD should put on its Twitter where the traffic officers are going to be in the morning and the afternoon rush hour. I would go out of my way to avoid many of the problem intersections if I knew that it was not going to be controlled by a traffic officer.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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