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October 31, 2011

B-W Parkway closings coming tonight

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway will be closed intermittently tonight as construction crews remove two steel beams from the bridge that carries Ridge Road over the highway near BWI Marshall Airport.

The State Highway Administration said its bridge rehabilitation project will require several complete closures of the road, also known as Maryland 295, for periods of 15 minutes between midnight at 5 a.m. In addition, a single lane will be closed through the night at 9 p.m. The agency suggested that travelers use alternate routes such as Interstates 95 or 97 or U.S. 1.

Ridge Road will remain open during the operation, which is part of a $1.2 million project to rebuild the 61-year-old  Ridge Road bridges over the parkway. The work is expected to be completed next summer.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:32 PM | | Comments (0)
        

October 28, 2011

Fully open ICC to be free Nov. 22-Dec.4

The Intercounty Connector, which is now scheduled to open all the way between Interstates 95 and 370 by the morning of Nov. 22, will be toll-free for almost two weeks as drivers become acquainted with the new highway in the Washington suburbs.

The Maryland Transportation Authority will begin collecting tolls on the already open and about-to-open stretches of the ICC Dec. 5.

The section of the ICC that will open by Nov. 22 runs from I-95 in Prince George's County too Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County. It will link up with the section between Georgia Avenue and I-370, which opened in February. The opening completes the main task of the ICC, linking the I-95 to Interstate 270 corridors without requiring drivers to use congested and slow local roads. A future segment of the toll road is expected to connect with U.S. 1, but for most motorists' purposes next month's opening will mean the ICC is complete after almost a half-century of debate and about four years under construction.

Motorists will pay tolls at the same per-mile rates charged on the first section: 25 cents at peak times, 20 cents off-peak and 10 cents overnight.

Officials estimate that travelers between Laurel and Gaithersburg will be able to make the trip in about 17 minutes, rather than the estimated 47 it now takes on local roads. For Baltimore drivers, it will also reduce the need to use the often-congested Capital Beltway to reach destinations in Montgomery County.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:24 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities
        

Toll hikes coming Tuesday: How will they affect you?

The first phase of the largest package of toll increases in Maryland's history will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday as the bill comes due for two mega-projects and the state transportation system's aging infrastructure.

The increases were approved by the board of The Maryland Transportation Authority in September after a series of public hearings led to some modifications in the original plan but only minor changes in its overall scope.

Getting There is interested in hearing from users of the states' various toll facilities about how the increases will affect them -- in their commuting, in personal travel or in doing business. Please email michael.dresser@baltsun.com and include a phone number where you can be reached.

The increases will affect each of the state’s seven fully opened toll facilities with fixed basic rates. Only the Intercounty Connector, a partly opened toll road that uses a variable pricing scheme bases on traffic levels, is exempt. They are the first changes to the tolls paid by passenger vehicles since 2003, though truckers absorbed a round of increases in 2009.

At the three Baltimore Harbor crossings – the Harbor Tunnel, Fort McHenry Tunnel and the Key Bridge – drivers will pay a $3 cash rate each way instead of the $2 they've been kicking in since 2003.

On the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, as Interstate 95 northeast of Baltimore is known, the basic northbound toll will rise from $5 to $6. At the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Susquehanna River on U.S. 40 as it parallels I-95, the same rate will apply.

On the Bay Bridge, where the $2.50 toll had been frozen in place since the 1970s, motorists’ luck will run out Tuesday. The rate will go up to $4 – collected eastbound only -- at least sparing drivers the ordeal of fumbling with change. In Southern Maryland, users of the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge will pay a like sum, instead of the previous $3, to make the southbound Potomac River crossing.

Truckers will absorb some of the largest hikes, but the board gave them a two-month reprieve. The higher truck tolls will not go into effect untill Jan. 1 so that trucking companies on year-to-year contracts have a chance to renegotiate rates with shippers to reflect the increases.

Tuesday’s increases will be followed by a second round in July 2013 that will push the cost of a round trip at the Harbor crossings, the Kennedy Highway and the Hatem to $8. The increases at the Bay and Nice Bridges will be held to $6 because the authority board decided an earlier plan to more than double the tolls at the two spans was too much too soon.

The increases are being driven largely by the need to repay bonds issued for two giant projects the state embarked on during the last decade -- the $2.6 billion ICC and the $1 billion Express Toll Lanes project on I-95. Also contributing to the need for revenue is the need to maintain the aging infrastructure of the toll facilities, which include two bridges that date to 1940 and a span of the Bay Bridge that is almost 60 years old.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities
        

October 27, 2011

Harford CC to host 3rd Heather Hurd walk/run

Harford Community College will host the third annual Heather L. Hurd 5K Walk/Run Nov. 12, honoring a former student whose 2008 death in a Florida crash helped lead to passage of Maryland's laws restricting cell phone use and banning texting while behind the wheel.

After that crash, Heather's father, Russell Hurd testified in Annapolis in support of both bills, telling lawmakers about his daughter's death in a crash in which she was hit by a distracted truck driver. The walk/run was established as a benefit to help provide book scholarships for HCC students while also calling attention to the problem of distracted driving.

Registration will take place that Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m at the Chesapeake Center Dining Room. The race, with entry fees of $20 for adults and $10 for those under 18, starts at 8 a.m. Participants can pre-register or get more information  by clicking here.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

I-83 spectator finds rain means crashes at one spot

Attorney David Rocah has a clear view of traffic in the Jones Falls Expressway from the window of his office in the Hampden-Woodberry area. And what he's been seeing, any time it rains, is a lot of crashes in one particular spot on Interstate 83.

Rocah called Getting There Thursday after witnessing yet another wet weather crash in the southbound lanes of the JFFX near Union Avenue, just south of the Pepsi sign.

"It always happens in the same place. It's the exact same place that's pretty visible," he said. "It's not every time it rains, but it's almost every time it rains."

Rocah said the spot is not on a curve but on a straight section. He said he's seen all manner of crashes -- single-vehicle spin-outs, two-car collisions, pile-ups. Frequently, he'll see ambulances responding to the scene. But he said he's never seen a crash there during dry weather. A check of the comprehensive web site SafeRoadsMap turned up no fatalities at that point in recent years (excluding 2011).

Why so many motorist would pick the same spot to crash puzzles Rocah. He theorized that maybe there's a dip in the road where drivers who are going too fast lose control.

Getting There has a call in to the Baltimore Department of Transportation to see whether it has a record of an unusual number of crashes in that spot. From personal experience, I can testify that many drivers treat the JFX as a NASCAR track and don't let up in the rain.

If any readers have observed the same phenomenon on the JFX and can verify Rocah's account, Getting There would be happy to hear from you. You can post to the blog or email michael.dresser@baltsun.com.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Highway agency recruits 'snow squad'

With winter looming and the first flakes possible this weekend, the State Highway Administration is looking for a few good snow scouts.

The agency is seeking to recruit a "snow squad" of about 30 volunteers to help highway officials assess road conditions this winter. According to SHA acting Administrator Darrell B. Mobley, personal observations can provide information on road conditions that the agency's cameras and traffic sensors can't detect.

Information provided by the volunteers will help officials at the agency's Statewide Operations Center in Hanover make decisions. According to the SHA, the volunteers will be trained to report on such matters as snow or ice on roadways, traffic vehicles and stranded motorists.

 

The agency is seeking volunteers who are at least 21, hold a valid driver's license with five years' experience and no moving violations or points in the past five years. Participants must agree to keep their vehicles in good winter condition,  keep up-to-date insurance and follow all Maryland driving laws. That means no reporting in with a hand-held cell phone or by texting, said SHA spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar.

Edgar said the agency will not ask volunteers to go out on the roads any more than they normally would, though she said the SHA hopes to recruit people who normally log a lot of miles on the road. She said the program is considered a pilot and that even if it becomes permanent officials expect to keep its numbers limited.

Edgar said the agency hopes to recruit a corps of volunteers that reflect the various regions of the state.

Volunteers can apply at Communications@sha.state.md.us.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

October 26, 2011

Maryland ignition interlock program expands

Marylanders who who have been convicted of drinking and driving are more likely than residents of any other East Coast state to be enrolled in an ignition interlock program -- requiring them to pass a breath test before starting their cars -- than residents of any other East Coast state, the Motor Vehicle Administration reports.

The MVA said that after a large increase in its numbers over the past few years, Maryland's interlock program has the highest per capita participation in the region.

That boast came as Maryland officials announced a further expansion of the state's interlock program under a law passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. It took effect Oct. 1, expanding the circumstances under which participation in the program becomes mandatory.

 

The MVA, which held a news conference Wednesday to publicize the new law, said participation has increased from 5,500 in November 2008 to an estimated 9,100 today. The agency said the numbers have grown as more judges have become convinced of the effectiveness of the program.

Under the new law, certain drivers must agree to participate in the interlock program or face license suspension or revocation. They include drivers under 21 who violate alcohol restrictions, motorists with second drunk driving convictions within five years and people whose blood-alcohol tests register 0.15 percent or more. Under Maryland law, drivers who blow .07 can be found guilty of driving while impaired while those who registered .08 are considered intoxicated.

Maryland officials also claimed Wednesday that the state is the first in the nation to fully automate its ignition interlock program. The MVA said drivers in the program must report to one of the agency's five approved interlock vendors every 30 days to have their monitoring data downloaded and reported to program officials. It said violations are automatically flagged from the information sent to the providers.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:52 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Transportation panel has more to say than raise gas tax

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding made news Tuesday by recommending a 15-cent increase in the gas tax, along with other revenue-raising measures. But the draft report goes far beyond that in making recommendations on how Maryland should go about paying for highway, transit and other projects in the future.

Some of its recommendations seem unlikely or ill-timed, but others could find their way into the state's transportation strategy.

One controversial recommendation would be to establish a mechanism for regular review of transit fares, with future increases driven by indexed formulas rather than administration decisions. This is a recommendation that is likely to face fierce resistance from lawmakers from low-income districts, whose constituents have benefited from the O'Malley administration's policy of holding the line on fares even as costs have ridden. The panel also urged the Maryland Transit Administration to achieve the statutory goal of recovering 35 percent of its costs at the fare box, but this section has a pro forma quality about its raises questions about how serious the commission was on this point. It's not unlikely that there will be a modest fare increase over the next year -- largely because of General Assembly pressure -- but it seems unlikely that increase would get the MTA to the 35 percent level.

The commission also made some recommendation about tolls, even though the state's toll facilities are financed separately from the Transportation Trust Fund, which was the main thrust of the report.

One recommendation is to impose tolls on parts of the Maryland Transportation Authority system that it maintains but for which it doesn't collect tolls. Those would include the stretch of Interstate 95 to the east and north of Baltimore; Interstate 395 leading into downtown and I-95 south of the Fort McHenry Tunnel. Many of us now enjoy free rides on those roadways, letting the users of the state's toll bridges and tunnels carry the freight. (Of course, the users of the toll facilities are often the same people using the free facilities.)

There are two big barriers to this recommendation. The first is that motorists are used to having them for free and likely under the impression their gas taxes are paying for the maintenance of these roads (they aren't)). The second is the logistical question of how the authority would collect tolls on major commuter routes into the city without bogging down traffic. The technological challenge of collecting tolls at highway speed can likely be met, but without near-universal adoption of E-ZPass, it's hard to see such a scheme working. Billing people for tolls using cameras might work on a new road such as the Intercounty Connector, but it's doubtful it would work efficiently on a mass scale on an existing corridor.

Meanwhile, the recommendation -- coming on the heels of the largest toll increase in the state's history -- seems peculiarly ill-timed. Such toll collection schemes were discussed and discarded by the board of the transportation authority, and that body is unlikely to have much appetite for reopening the debate for several years. Mark this one down as the non-starter of non-starters.

A recommendation that the state explore the use of tolling on new facilities or to add new capacity to existing highways could get traction in the long term. So could a suggestion that the authority look at variable pricing on some existing facilities. (Charging extra to use the Bay Bridge at peak beach travel  times makes sense from the perspective of congestion management.) But any such schemes are far in the future. It will probably be at least four years before the authority looks at raising revenue again. And there really isn't much prospect of new highway building in the foreseeable future. Perhaps some future governor will get behind the idea of adding express toll lanes to Interstate 270 or some other road, but Maryland has learned that new mega-projects can force toll increases at other facilities. It's hard to see any future project sliding through without a major fight, as the Interstate 95 ETL project did.

One recommendation that might get some traction is the panel's suggestion that the state eliminate free passes for certain users of the MTA system, including state employees. Superficially, this has appeal both on the basis of equity and revenue recovery, but there are flaws to the logic. One is that it is by no means clear that state employees and others who might lose the free passes wouldn't switch to driving rather than begin pitching more money into the fare box. The other is that state employees have been through years of pay freezes and furloughs, and a break on transit fares was a small way of making it up to them. It's also doubtful the little bit of extra ridership put much strain on capacity. So any gains from this recommendation would be more symbolic than practical. The panel has a point when it questions the wisdom of financing an employee benefit through the trust fund, even if the impact is minimal, but there's a shallowness to the analysis that doesn't  give lawmakers much guidance on the costs and benefits of this policy change.

There's still a lot more to the report, including recommendations on sharing transportation costs with developers whose project derive benefits from them and on guidelines for establishing public-private partnerships. More on those later.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: For policy wonks only
        

October 20, 2011

MARC making big rail car purchase

Details are still sketchy, but the agenda of the Board of Public Works shows that the Maryland Transit Administration has reached a contract agreement with Bombardier Transit Corp. of Montreal to provide 54 multi-level rail cars for the MARC commuter train service at a cost of $153 million.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens said  MARC intends to retire 38 of its older rail cars and to expand its current fleet by 16. Owens said the agency will not discuss further details of the deal until the board acts on the contract.

 Delivery will not necessarily come soon. In past MARC procurements, it has taken multiple years to go from purchase agreement to the start of actual service. But the MTA said that by piggybacking on an order by New Jersey Transit, it will cut an estimated nine months to a year off the procurement process.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:21 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: MARC train
        

October 19, 2011

Cluster of crashes reported on Beltway

The Baltimore County police are reporting a cluster of three separate crashes Wednesday morning on the Inner Loop of the Beltway between Reisterstown Road and Interstate 795, forcing the shutdown of two lanes.

According to police, one is a five-vehicle crash in which injuries have been reported and for which medics have been dispatched.

A second was a two-vehicle crash that involved a county police vehicle. Police said an occupant of the civilian vehicle requested medical attention but that there was no other information on possible injuries.

Police said a third collision, involving two cars, caused only property damage. There have been no reports of fatalities in any of the crashes. Police are urging drivers to avoid the area.

As in common in developing news situations, a second agency is reporting entirely different information. State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kellie Boulware said the agency knew of three accidents on the Inner Loop as well -- one at Hollins Ferry Road, one at Liberty Road and one at Reisterstown Road.  Boulware said her understanding is that the Reisterstown Road crash involves two cars and two SUV, while information about the other incidents was more sketchy.

UPDATE: As of 12:40 a.m., Baltimore County police spokeswoman Louise Rogers-Feher provided some additional details and clarification. The first crash, involving five vehicles, took place at 10:33 in the Reisterstown Road-Interstate 795 area of the Inner Loop. Injuries were initially reported but nobody was transported to a hospital from the scene. The second occurred at 10:34 a.m. when a civilian vehicle moving over to let first responders get through to the first crash. The private car crashed into the back of an unoccupied police car on the shoulder. Rogers-Feher said the driver was uninjured but a passengers was transported to Sinai Hospital with minor injuries. She said a third crash involving two vehicles took place at 10:45 a.m. in the same area, causing property damage only. The drivers exchanged information and left the scene without a police report being filed.

She said two lanes of the Inner Loop remained closed as of 12:40.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

October 18, 2011

Race for the Cure to close some county streets

Baltimore County residents don't have to deal with road closings to the same degree as their counterparts in the city, but this Sunday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is expected to bring significant traffic disruptions to Hunt Valley.

Participants are expected to begin gathering at Executive Plaza in Hunt Valley at 6 a.m, and the race is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. The Baltimore County Police Department Police said it anticipates that most, if not all, roads will be open to traffic by 11 a.m. but that heavier traffic flow is expected in the area for an hour or two after that.

The police advised drivers who can to avoid the area between 6 a.m. and about 11:30 a.m. because of the heavy traffic and the road closings. The department released the following list of closings and traffic recommendations:

Shawan Rd. at York Rd.: no traffic will be permitted to travel westbound on Shawan Rd. after 6 a.m. At 7:30 a.m. all southbound traffic on York Rd. will only be allowed to go onto the Giant parking lot.


Shawan Rd. at the entrance to the Hunt Valley Towne Centre (east entrance, across from Verizon): no traffic will be permitted to exit the Towne Centre parking lot after 6 a.m.


Shawan Rd. at main entrance to Hunt Valley Towne Centre (near Light Rail): no traffic will be permitted to exit the Towne Centre parking lot after 6 a.m. Once the end of the race is on Shilling Rd., E/B Shawan Rd. will be opened.


Shawan Rd. at McCormick Rd.: no traffic will be permitted to enter Shawan Rd. from McCormick Rd. Pedestrians will be assisted in crossing. All E/B traffic on Shawan Rd. from N/B I-83 will be directed to turn left onto McCormick Rd. Traffic from S/B I-83 entering E/B Shawan Rd. will be directed to turn left onto International Drive.

McCormick Rd. at International Cr.: traffic will be directed from E/B International Cr. left on McCormick Rd. No traffic will be permitted to turn right onto McCormick Rd. towards Shawan Rd.
W/B Shawan Rd. ramp to N/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.

W/B Shawan Rd. at ramp from N/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.


W/B Shawan Rd. at ramp to S/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.


E/B Shawan Rd. at ramp to N/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.


E/B Shawan Rd. at ramp from S/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.


McCormick Rd. at Shilling Cr.: at 6 a.m. no vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on McCormick Rd. At 7:30 a.m. no vehicles will be permitted on Shilling Rd. and McCormick Rd. All vehicles coming out of Shilling Cr. will be directed to go S/B on McCormick Rd.


E/B Shawan Rd. ramp from N/B I-83: pedestrians will be assisted along Shawan Rd.
York Rd. at Shilling Rd. will close at 7:30 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on York Rd.


York Rd. at Ashland Rd. will close at 7:45 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel on N/B York Rd. The N/B York Rd. slow lane from Ashland to Shawan will be coned off. This lane will be used to allow traffic to travel N/B after race participants pass.


Shilling Cr. Exit to the rear of Burger King (access road) will close at 7:45 a.m.

Shilling Rd. at Pepper Rd. will close at 6 a.m. Pepper Rd. will be closed at Shilling Rd. No vehicles will be permitted to enter Shilling Rd. from Pepper Rd.


McCormick Rd. at Shilling Cr. at Light Rail tracks will close at 6 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on McCormick Rd. All vehicles coming out of Shilling Cr. will be directed to go S/B on McCormick Rd.


McCormick at Wight Ave. will close at 6 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on McCormick Rd. All vehicles coming out of Wight Ave. will be directed to go S/B on McCormick Rd.
Beaver Dam Rd. at McCormick Rd. will close at 7 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on McCormick Rd. All vehicles will be directed to Beaver Dam Rd. toward Gilroy Rd. All vehicles coming from E/B Beaver Dam Rd. will be directed right onto Beaver Dam Rd. toward Warren Rd.

Beaver Dam Rd. at Ivy Hill Rd. will close at 7:30 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel on Beaver Dam Rd. east of Ivy Hill Rd. with the exception of the following:
Hunt Valley Church


Beaver Dam Rd. at Cockeysville Rd. will close at 7:30 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to travel N/B on Beaver Dam Rd. All vehicles will be directed onto Cockeysville Rd.


Sam’s Club, Lowe’s and Timonium light Rail Park and Ride. The buses will pick up people and transport them northbound on Beaver Dam Rd. to Wight Ave. and then make a right onto York Rd. and complete the loop. There will be a designated travel lane on McCormick Rd. from Beaver Dam Rd. to Wight Ave. for the shuttle buses after the roads have been closed for the race.
the public on race day.

For more information visit their web site at www.mtamaryland.com and follow the directions for the Light Rail lines. For more information on how to obtain a free light rail pass and the route of the race go to www.KOMENMD.org/2011

Please note: Due to the Phoenix Road bridge restrictions, our suggested detour for the south-to-north movement along the York Rd. area is to enter NB I-83 at W. Padonia Rd. to Belfast Rd. (exit 24) and stay E/B on Belfast Rd. to York Rd. Or, use N/B York Rd. to right (east) onto Ashland Rd. Ashland Rd. becomes Paper Mill Rd. about .75 mile east of York Rd. Follow Paper Mill Rd. east to Phoenix Rd. Turn left (northbound) onto Phoenix Rd. and bear right onto Carroll Rd. prior to the Phoenix Rd. bridge. Continue north on Carroll Rd. and turn left (west) onto Sparks Rd. Follow Sparks Rd. to York Rd. Both of these routes will help drivers avoid traffic congestion around the race route.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:30 PM | | Comments (0)
        

October 17, 2011

MTA, city awarded $8.4 million in transit grants

The Maryland Transit Administration will receive $8.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, most of which will be used to replace older buses with new hybrid-engine vehicles.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the distribution of $928 million in transit grants today in Detroit. The MTA received two -- $8 million for bus replacement and $411,500 for street improvements in Southeast Baltimore.

The smaller grant is a Baltimore project for which the MTA passes through the funds to the city. Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, said the money would primarily be used for improvements in Highlandtown, Canton and Greektown that would make the streets more pedestrian-friendly.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:08 PM | | Comments (0)
        

October 13, 2011

Work on Tydings Bridge foundation begins

The Maryland Transportation Authority has begun construction work on a $43 million project to shore up the foundation of the nearly 50-year-old Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge on Interstate 95, where the flow of the Susquehanna River has eroded the piers that support the span.

The work on the bridge, part of the toll stretch of I-95 called the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, is not expected to have a serious impact on bridge and boat traffic. The authority will rehabilitate the 10 of the bridge's 13 piers that stand in the water, subjecting them to a form of damage known as "scour" caused by the river's currents.

The work is expected to be completed by late 2013, according to the authority. The project is financed by revenue from the state's toll facilities. No lane closings as a result of the work are anticipated.

The authority said in 2009 that its inspectors had found "advanced deterioration" in the underwater structures that support the Tydings Bridge and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which spans the Susquehanna just downstream from I-95 on U.S. 40.

The two projects have been in the engineering phase since then. The cost of the Hatem Bridge project, which is expected to enter the construction phase by spring 2012, is estimated at $54 million. That was approximately the original estimate on the Tydings Bridge project, but the authority  said construction costs had been cut by $11.5 million once the actual bids came in.

The construction will involve placing coffer dams around each of the underwater piers and pumping out water to expose the structures. Crews will then build a reinforced concrete encasement around the existing piers.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities
        

October 12, 2011

Circulator Green Route to debut Nov. 1

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is planning to announce that service on the Green Route of the Charm City Circulator, the third line of Baltimore's free shuttle bus service, will start up Nov. 1, according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

The Green Route will make a vaguely Y-shaped loop serving the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Fells Point, Harbor East and the City Hall area before retracing its course. It will intersect with the Orange Route, which runs east and west from Central Avenue to the Hollins Street Market, and connect with the Locust Point water taxi that docks at Maritime Park. According to the city, the newest addition to its fleet, the Orion VII BRT Hybrid bus, will be used on the route.

The Green Route does not connect directly with the north-south Purple Route, which serves the Charles-St. Paul-Light corridor between the Cross Street Market and Penn Station, but the two lines come within about two blocks of each other near City Hall. In the plans is a fourth route serving Fort McHenry from the Inner Harbor.

According to the Circulator web site, the Orange Route has added a new -- and much-needed -- stop at Howard Street to provide a better connection to the light rail system.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:40 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: City bus service
        

Many streets closed for marathon. So, what's open?

When the Baltimore Marathon takes to the streets Saturday, traffic will be disrupted through much of central Baltimore. It happens every year, and city residents have learned to cope with a multitude of street closings, lane closings, park restrictions and other inconveniences as best they can.

The city Department of Transportation is always diligent about releasing a list of streets that will be closed or otherwise affected, but that leaves the question of which roads will remain open or be minimally affected. In other words, how do you get around the city on marathon day?

First, some good news: A map of the marathon route shows that no roads to the west or north of Druid Hill Park will be affected, and the part of Greenspring Avenue that runs along the park's southwest side should be clear after about 10 a.m.  With the exception of the Lake Montebello loop, roads north of 33rd Street, including the east-west corridors of Cold Spring Lane and Northern Parkway, won't be closed. The Bel Air Road corridor will be unaffected north of North Avenue. And in Southeast Baltimore, Linwood Avenue is easternmost street affected. The Jones Falls Expressway will remain open.

Bonus good news: The city's official estimates for how long streets will be closed appear to have been padded to give officials a lot of extra wiggle room. The estimate that parts of Key Highway will be closed until 4 p.m. looks quite conservative in view of the fact that even the stragglers are expected to clear that area before noon. Also dubious is the prediction that streets in Southeast Baltimore will remain closed until 5:30 p.m. A reopening in early afternoon is much more likely.

The bad news: Most of the territory within that perimeter will be affected -- either by closings of streets on the race route or sometimes lengthy stoppages of those that cross those streets. Because the 26.2-mile course follows a north-south-north-south path,   east-west routes south of Cold Spring  will be crossed multiple times at different times of the day -- four times in the case of North Avenue and U.S. 40. Southbound JFX travelers could face problems once they get off; northbound travelers could find it difficult to get on.

If you're traveling along a road that crosses the route, try to avoid the times when the pack at the front comes through. You could be in for a long wait. Police are unlikely to stop runners who are in the competition. They may allow traffic through once the field thins out and there are some breaks. It'll be up to the officer's discretion, according to transportation officials.

Here are some hints for coping with the challenges of getting around:

--If traveling southbound on the JFX toward Southwest Baltimore or southbound Interstate 95, North Avenue west of the JFX should be clear for the day as of about 9:30 a.m.  The Monroe/Fulton and Hilton Parkway corridors can be used to bypass the race route. Drivers heading downtown on the JFX should use the Maryland Avenue and Guilford Avenue exits rather than St. Paul Street -- at least until after about 10:30 a.m.

--If trying to reach the JFX from the south, Charles Street will not be affected by the closings -- though there may be some extra traffic -- until north of the I-83 entrance at Penn Station. Motorists coming to Federal Hill or downtown from the south will find  Hanover and Charles streets open all day.

--Conway Street will remain open through the race, giving access to downtown via Charles Street from Interstate 395, but backups near the Camden Yards finish line are possible.

--Paca Street is scheduled to be clear after 9:30 a.m., Russell  after 10 a.m.and Light after 10:30 a.m. 

--Traffic in Canton and Highlandtown is scheduled to return to normal after about 12:30 p.m. During the morning, there will be free-flowing access to those neighborhoods from the south using the Keith Avenue exit of Interstate 95 (just past the Fort McHenry Tunnel, using the right lane). Bear right at the exit and continue onto Clinton Street to Boston Street.

--Certain streets in East Baltimore that are not on the marathon map will be affected by the half-marathon taking place at the same time. They include Eastern Avenue, Patterson Park Avenue, Pratt Street, Broadway and Fayette Street.

--People heading from West Baltimore to East Baltimore who normally use city streets may want to get on I-95 using Caton Avenue and take the Fort McHenry Tunnel ($2 toll one way) to Keith, Boston, Eastern Avenue, Moravia Road and hook back to their destination. Those going from East Baltimore to West might save time by reversing the process.

--Drivers heading from Southeast Baltimore to North Baltimore can avoid the race route by using Highland to Belair Road and then heading west on Moravia and Cold Spring.

During the day, people traveling downtown should consider using light rail or the Metro subway.

Many Maryland Transit Administration routes, as well as Charm City Circulator service, will be affected by the marathon.

The MTA said 21 of its bus routes would be shortened or split into two separate loops -- with a gap in central Baltimore -- between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., while service on the No. 48 route will not operate at all. Others may be diverted. For specific information on individual routes, check the MTA website. The agency said service will be restored as soon as possible after the race.

The Charm City Circulator's Orange Route will be shifted from Pratt Street to Baltimore Street for eastbound traffic, and will not make its usual loop through Harbor East. Baltimore Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said Orange Route buses will face the same traffic stops for north-south runners as other vehicles and warned that there could be significant delays and that bus intervals could be disrupted. The Orange Route changes will be in effect between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The north-south Purple Route will be split about 9 a.m.  into a northern loop and a southern loop. On the northern loop, buses will run north on Charles and southbound on St. Paul Street, where vehicles will share the roadway with runners, from Penn Station to Redwood Street. A southern loop will run a highly compressed route from Ostend St. to Warren Avenue on Light and Charles. Normal service will resume about noon.

In some cases, people considering a ride on either Circulator route might find it quicker to walk between downtown points. The southbound part of the Purple Route extends only four blocks by two blocks, but Chopper said the city wanted to offer as much of the normal service as possible.

Bonus good news: The city's official estimates for how long streets will be closed appear to have been padded to give officials a lot of extra wiggle room. The estimate that parts of Key Highway will be closed until 4 p.m. looks quite conservative in view of the fact that even the stragglers are expected to clear that area before noon. Also dubious is the prediction that streets in Southeast Baltimore will remain closed until 5:30 p.m. A reopening in early afternoon is much more likely.

The bad news: Most of the territory within that perimeter will be affected -- either by closings of streets on the race route or sometimes lengthy stoppages of those that cross those streets. Because the 26.2-mile course follows a north-south-north-south path,   east-west routes south of Cold Spring  will be crossed multiple times at different times of the day -- four times in the case of North Avenue and U.S. 40. Southbound JFX travelers could face problems once they get off; northbound travelers could find it difficult to get on.

If you're traveling along a road that crosses the route, try to avoid the times when the pack at the front comes through. You could be in for a long wait. Police are unlikely to stop runners who are in the competition. They may allow traffic through once the field thins out and there are some breaks. It'll be up to the officer's discretion, according to transportation officials.

Here are some hints for coping with the challenges of getting around:

--If traveling southbound on the JFX toward Southwest Baltimore or southbound Interstate 95, North Avenue west of the JFX should be clear for the day as of about 9:30 a.m.  The Monroe/Fulton and Hilton Parkway corridors can be used to bypass the race route. Drivers heading downtown on the JFX should use the Maryland Avenue and Guilford Avenue exits rather than St. Paul Street -- at least until after about 10:30 a.m.

--If trying to reach the JFX from the south, Charles Street will not be affected by the closings -- though there may be some extra traffic -- until north of the I-83 entrance at Penn Station. Motorists coming to Federal Hill or downtown from the south will find  Hanover and Charles streets open all day.

--Conway Street will remain open through the race, giving access to downtown via Charles Street from Interstate 395, but backups near the Camden Yards finish line are possible.

--Paca Street is scheduled to be clear after 9:30 a.m., Russell  after 10 a.m.and Light after 10:30 a.m. 

--Traffic in Canton and Highlandtown is scheduled to return to normal after about 12:30 p.m. During the morning, there will be free-flowing access to those neighborhoods from the south using the Keith Avenue exit of Interstate 95 (just past the Fort McHenry Tunnel, using the right lane). Bear right at the exit and continue onto Clinton Street to Boston Street.

--People heading from West Baltimore to East Baltimore who normally use city streets may want to get on I-95 using Caton Avenue and take the Fort McHenry Tunnel ($2 toll one way) to Keith, Boston, Eastern Avenue, Moravia Road and hook back to their destination. Those going from East Baltimore to West might save time by reversing the process.

--Drivers heading from Southeast Baltimore to North Baltimore can avoid the race route by using Highland to Belair Road and then heading west on Moravia and Cold Spring.

During the day, people traveling downtown should consider using light rail or the Metro subway.

Many Maryland Transit Administration routes, as well as Charm City Circulator service, will be affected by the marathon.

The MTA said 21 of its bus routes would be shortened or split into two separate loops -- with a gap in central Baltimore -- between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., while service on the No. 48 route will not operate at all. Others may be diverted. For specific information on individual routes, check the MTA website. The agency said service will be restored as soon as possible after the race. For specific information, go to the MTA website.

The Charm City Circulator's Orange Route will be shifted from Pratt Street to Baltimore Street for eastbound traffic, and will not make its usual loop through Harbor East. Baltimore Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said Orange Route buses will face the same traffic stops for north-south runners as other vehicles and warned that there could be significant delays and that bus intervals could be disrupted. The Orange Route changes will be in effect between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The north-south Purple Route will be split about 9 a.m.  into a northern loop and a southern loop. On the northern loop, buses will run north on Charles and southbound on St. Paul Street, where vehicles will share the roadway with runners, from Penn Station to Redwood Street. A southern loop will run a highly compressed route from Ostend St. to Warren Avenue on Light and Charles. Normal service will resume about noon.

In some cases, people considering a ride on either Circulator route might find it quicker to walk between downtown points. The southbound part of the Purple Route extends only four blocks by two blocks, but Chopper said the city wanted to offer as much of the normal service as possible.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Charles Street repaving being done over

Two alert readers, Catherine Lawson of the North Baltimore area and Matthew Loraditch, wrote Getting There to report a disturbing sight: work crews on Charles Street in Baltimore tearing out asphalt that had been laid down only a few moths before. Both had the same concern -- that the city had botched the job and that taxpayers would be stuck for doing the job twice.

According to the city, that isn't what's happening. Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Transportation, said the work is indeed being redone. But she said it was a case of contractor error and that it won't cost taxpayers a dime to have it fixed, though some motorists might have to endure the traffic delays that result from the do-over.

Barnes called the situation "an excellent example of the city doing strong oversight of its contractors."

The repaving job involves a stretch of Charles Street between Northern Parkway and the city line. Barnes said the $200,000 job had been awarded to M.. Luis Construction of Baltimore. But city inspectors found the initial work didn't meet the city's specifications.

"The asphalt wasn't laid correctly. It was kind of choppy," she said. Calls to M. Luis were not returned.

Barnes said the work was originally expected to be finished this week but that rain is now expected to push completion into next week.

City transportation officials regret the inconvenience to motorists but had to insist the work be redone now so that they didn't have to come back in a year or two and do it again, Barnes said.

Lawson estimated that the road work adds an additional 8-10 minutes each way to her commute on Charles Street. But she was reassured to learn that the work was being redone at no cost to the city. "As long as you're not paying for the same thing to be done twice because it's a city worker, that's great news," she said.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: On the roads
        

October 10, 2011

What are your experiences with the MVA?

Today's Sun carries an article about waiting times at the various Motor Vehicle Administration offices around the state. Delving into the agency's own statistics, the article reports that the slowest MVA branch office in the state is the one in Essex.

The article goes on to outline some of MVA Administrator John T. Kuo's ideas for speeding up service in the future, including allowing driver's license renewal online and requiring more transactions to be done by appointment.

Getting There is interested in hearing your opinion of Kuo's plans and about your experiences with the MVA -- good, bad or somewhere in the middle. Please either post to this blog or email michael.dresser@baltsun.com. On emails, please leave a telephone number where we can contact you for further comments.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: On the roads
        

Marathon to force many street closings in city

Each year about this time, Baltimore traffic grinds to a halt as the city turns over many of its streets to people in running shoes for the Baltimore Marathon.

It is, on one hand, a great event that draws thousands to Baltimore. But for motorists and bus riders in the city, it can be a day of headaches. This week, the event falls on Saturday, when dozens of parking restrictions and road closings will be in effect along the 26.2-mile course.

The event is expected to draw about 20,000 people to a course stretching from downtown to Lake Montebello and back.

To see the list of street closings announced by the city Department of Transportation, please click below:

 

 The following parking restrictions will be implemented on Saturday, October 15, 2011:

 ∙ Linwood Avenue from Eastern Avenue to Fayette Street 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 ∙ Eastern Avenue (north side) from Linwood to Patterson Park Avenues 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 ∙ Boston Street (north side) from Aliceanna Street to Lakewood Avenue 2:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 ∙ Lancaster Street from President Street to Central Avenue 4:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 ∙ 33rd Street from Hillen Road to Guilford Avenue 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Eutaw Street (west side) from Madison to Monument Streets 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Howard Street (west side) from 23rd to 28th Streets 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Wyman Park Drive from Remington Avenue to Art Museum Drive 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

 ∙ Camden Street from Russell to Howard Streets 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Eutaw Street from Madison to Monument Streets 6:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ St. Paul Street (upper level) from Franklin to Saratoga Streets 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

 The following streets will be closed to through traffic on Saturday, October 15, 2011:

 ∙ Russell Street from Hamburg to Pratt Street 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

 ∙ Eutaw Street from Madison to Monument Streets 6:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Eutaw Street from Pratt to Camden Streets 7:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

 ∙ Camden Street from Russell to Howard Streets 7:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

 ∙ Light Street from Lombard Street to Key Highway 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

 ∙ Key Highway from Cross to Light Streets 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 ∙ Central Avenue from Gough to Bank Streets 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

∙ Pratt Street from Calvert to Exeter Streets 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

 ∙ Exeter Street from Pratt to Bank Streets 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

 ∙ Bank Street from Exeter Street to Central Avenue 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

 ∙ Paca Street from Pratt to Lombard Streets 5:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

 The following streets will be impacted by the marathon on Saturday, October 15, 2011:

 ∙ Paca Street from Lombard to McCulloh Streets 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

 ∙ McCulloh Street from Paca Street to Greenspring Avenue 8:10 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.

 ∙ Greenspring Avenue from Beechwood Drive to Wyman Park Drive (in Druid Hill Park) 8:15 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

 ∙ Wyman Park Drive from Remington Avenue to W. 28th Street 8:25 a.m. – 9:35 a.m.

 ∙ W. 28th Street from Howard to St. Paul Streets 8:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

 ∙ St. Paul Street from 28th to Light Streets 8:35 a.m. - 10:10 a.m.

∙ Light Street from Warren Avenue to Battery Avenue to Key Highway 8:45 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.

 ∙ Key Highway from Battery Avenue to Key Highway Extension to Tide Point 8:55 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

 ∙ Tide Point to Key Highway Extension to Key Highway to Light Street 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

 ∙ Light Street to Pratt Street to President Street to Lancaster Street 9:05 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

∙ Aliceanna Street from President to Boston Streets 9:10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

∙ Boston Street to Lakewood Avenue to O’Donnell St. to Linwood Avenue 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

 ∙ Linwood Avenue from O’Donnell Street to Madison Street 9:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

 ∙ Madison Street from Linwood Avenue to Washington Street to St. Lo Drive 9:25 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

 ∙ Harford Road from St. Lo Drive to Hillen Road 9:30 a.m. to 1:05 p.m.

 ∙ Hillen Road from Harford Road to 33rd Street 9:40 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.

 ∙ Lake Montebello to 33rd Street to Guilford Avenue 9:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

 ∙ Guilford Avenue from 28th to Howard Streets 9:55 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

∙ Howard Street from 28th Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 ∙ Eutaw St. to finish at M&T Bank Stadium 10:10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

 

Please note that traffic along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. will remain open in both directions during the marathon. During the event, temporary traffic stops may be implemented for the safety of participants. Motorists may encounter delays and are encouraged to exercise patience while driving.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 AM | | Comments (7)
        

October 7, 2011

Purple Line gets approval for engineering

The Federal Transit Administration has given the Maryland Transit Administration the go-ahead to begin preliminary engineering on the proposed Purple Line in suburban Washington -- a step the federal agency took several months ago for Baltimore's Red Line.

The move puts the Purple Line project, which would extend a light rail line from Bethesda to New Carrollton, in a select group of transit projects nationwide that have reached this step on the road to federal funding approval.

The decision was hailed by political leaders in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, but it could be seen as good news for Red Line supporters in Baltimore as well. That's because the chances of obtaining the General Assembly's support for the projects are enhances if they move in tandem. Neither Baltimore nor the Washington suburbs by themselves have the clout to deliver the votes for the billions of dollars involved, but together they have a chance at funding both. Think of it as the transit version of the deal that brought the Ravens and Redskins to Maryland.

  

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Red Line
        

October 5, 2011

SHA explains why big projects take years, not months

A reader had a question that I've heard many times and asked myself when I first began covering transportation: Why do big road projects take so long to complete?

The reader, named Chris, was particularly interested in the wiidening of Maryland 295 in northern Anne Arundel County. Here's what he had to say:

The SHA has been messing around for like 2 years putting 1.5 miles of extra lane in each direction between 695 and 195 on the MD295.  It looks like it is nearing completion, but they don't appear to be working very fast.  I'd really like to know when it will be open and done.

Also I'd love to know why the heck it took 2 years to build a total of 3 miles of extra lanes.  It seems to me that this could have been done in a couple months at most.

I'd love to know, if for nothing else, just out of pure curiosity.

Getting There turned to Dave Buck, spokesman for the State Highway Administration, for an explanation and answers to the question. His detailed reply explains much more than the delays in a single project. Here's what he had to say:

The MD 295 widening between I-695 and I-195 began October 2008.  The contract was for a 1,151 calendar day project (basically three years and two months).   Our estimated completion is mid to late November so we are right on schedule.

Of course, our being "on schedule" from a contractual perspective is different (than) the motorists perspective of "why does it take three years, not three months, to add one lane on each side of MD 295 from the Beltway to I-195."  I will do my best to explain both in terms of overall big picture and specifics to the MD 295 project.

You are correct that most do not fully understand the challenges or time required to widen a road, especially four miles along a busy freeway all the while under existing traffic.

There is absolutely no doubt every highway construction project could be done much more quickly - if we lived in Florida.  In reality, we live in a state where we have to shut down most major projects during the winter and from spring til fall we deal not only with rain (not only the rain itself but frequently we can not work until the work area is completely dry), but also events (Ravens, Grand Prix, Orioles) as well many other factors (BWI in this instance).

Secondly, the amount of hours we are permitted to work on a road like MD 295, which carries about 90,000 vehicles per day near I-695, is limited at best.  In an absolutely perfect world we could close lanes 24 hours a day, detour traffic when we need to pave but we all know that just is not possible.  We must manage the existing traffic while creating a safe workplace for both the workers and the motorists the travel our roads. 

While most of the work to add the lane was done behind barrier, we did still have a significant amount of work on MD 295 itself (concrete patching, paving, tie-in work).  When the new lane is ready to open, the entire three lanes must be ready, not just the new lane.

Widening any road is extremely difficult on highways due to high speeds, accel/decel lanes and ramps.  For the MD 295 project, we had to take into account maintenance of traffic and work hours on this job, which were complicated by concerns for BWI traffic, Orioles, Ravens, Gran Prix, etc.

Soil compaction is critical when widening a road because of traffic weight and volume and we cannot grade in wet weather.  Record rains in 2011 certainly did not help.

Paving is seasonal, weather-dependent and done in several "lifts."  We can't do base paving until the grade is compacted to specification then we can't do final surface until the base is done AND existing travel lanes are milled and patched.  This is very time consuming on a road w/ 90,000+ ADT (average daily traffic).

Full-depth concrete patching of existing lanes MUST be done weekends ONLY to avoid heavy commuter traffic.  But, it can't be done during events either.  Concrete patches need minimum 12 hours cure.  It was very difficult to find the right weekends with good weather and no events.

This project included a "foamed asphalt" base on part of the NB lane.  Foamed asphalt is a recycled low-temperature base material.  This is not a new product but new for SHA so we needed to adopt appropriate testing standards.

We can't stress this enough -sequencing, any major issues or bad weather can cause a setback of several weeks or months.

And there you have it: Building a road isn't as easy as it looks.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:08 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

October 4, 2011

Long-term Operation Orange Cone signs irk resident

Mac Nachlas of Mount Washington has a gripe with the signs that have been popping up in his neighborhood. It sounds like a reasonable complaint to me. Let's let him explain:

Ok, I'm used to politicians claiming credit for doing their jobs and I know it's an election year.... and I'm no TEA Party fanatic, but the recent introduction of permanent, metal signs to denote each newly repaved street has me bugged.

 "Project Orange Cone" started as a catchy phrase that did not harm. A temporary sign at each construction site gave the mayor du jour credit for road resurfacing (which one assumes is the job of the city anyway), but the signs didn't cost very much and disappeared with the paving crew.


Now, each newly paved street in my neighborhood (Mount Washington) is adorned with permanent metal signs announcing the project name and crediting the mayor. The signs add no value, provide no information needed by the motorist and add to visual clutter. 
They serve no purpose other than to advertise a specific politician at taxpayer expense.


We will probably be told the signs are cheap, but even if they are only a couple of dollars it's more than we should be spending on unnecessary and unhelpful signage. The ten minutes spent by a DOT crew putting each sign up could easily be spent more usefully.


This is not a gripe about a specific mayor... but about the concept that allows ANY mayor to waste money on this sort of self aggrandizement. If you want to brag about your accomplishments issue a report of miles paved. Don't junk up the neighborhoods
and waste money on signs that don't help motorists. Just fix the roads and you'll get the credit you deserve.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Politics & transportation
        

October 3, 2011

MTA posts strong ridership gains in 3 categories

The Maryland Transit Administration ranked near the top of the nations list in ridership gains in three categories during the first six months of this year, according to the American Public Transit Association.

The national trade group for transit agencies said Baltimore posted a 10.4 percent increase  in light rail ridership and a 10 percent increase on its Metro system over last year during the January-June period. That  gave the light rail system the seventh-highest gain in the ranking of 27 similar systems. The Metro gain was the third-largest out of 15 heavy rail systems.

Baltimore's bus system also posted a strong gain of 7.5 percent -- putting it among the leaders in that category as well.

The associations reported that 5.2 billion trips were taken on U.S. transit systems during the six-month period, a 1.7 percent increase over the comparable period last year. Nationally, APTA said, heavy rail use increased 3.8 percent and light rail use 3.7 percent. It reported a slight increase in bus ridership.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:28 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: MTA
        

MVA chief named safety representative

John T. Kuo, chief of the Motor Vehicle Administration, will serve as Gov. Martin O"Malley's highway safety representative, Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley announced Monday.

Kuo, the state's MVA administrator since 2006, succeeds former State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen, who retired over the summer. Swaim-Staley said the state's Highway Safety Office, now a part of the SHA, will become a part of the MVA after a transition period.

As safety representative, Kuo will serve as Maryland's liaison to such agencies as the National Highway Traffic safety Administration and to private safety advocacy groups. At the MVA, Kuo has played a major role in developing the state's graduated licensing program for new drivers.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Road safety
        

BWI to gain new European connection

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will add a second connection to Europe next summer when Germany's Condor Airlines is planning to launch twice-a-week service to Frankfurt.

The seasonal Monday and Thursday Condor flights are scheduled to begin July 2 and continue into October. Currently, the only scheduled trans-Atlantic flights from BWI are the daily departures to London's Heathrow Airport aboard British Airways.

BWI chief executive Paul Wiedefeld said Condor's decision to come to BWO follows years of courtship.

"This is really a big win for BWI to get another international connection directly to the hub of Europe," Wiedefeld said.

Frankfurt is one of the most important international airports in Europe, with connections to many destinations beyond Germany. Wiedefeld said Condor would serve BWI with Boeing 767 jets carrying 270 seats.

Unlike the airport's flagship British Airways service, the Frankfurt flights will not require a subsidy from the state, Wiedefeld said.

In past decades, BWI offered scheduled service to continental Europe but lost much of that business with the rise of Dulles International Airport. In recent years in has added flights to the Caribbean basin, including Air Tran service to Cancun.

Wiedefeld said BWI's strong growth in recent years, along with its status as a top airport for Southwest Airlines, has increased its attractiveness to international carriers.

"They're numbers guys, and they're looking at the numbers," he said.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:44 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Air travel
        
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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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