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November 21, 2011

ICC open from 95 to 270 in the morning

About a half-century after it was first proposed, the Intercounty Connector will provide a direct link between Interstates 95 and 270 starting early Tuesday morning. With the opening of the 10-mile stretch between 95 and Georgia Avenue, the new toll road will finally become useful for many residents of the Baltimore region.

Motorists will have about two weeks to "test drive" the road free of charge. The Maryland Transportation Authority has waived tolls until Dec. 5. If you don't have an E-ZPass and think you'll be using the new road regularly, now is the time to break down and get a transponder. You can use the ICC without E-ZPass, but you'll have to pay a service fee to cover the costs of billing by mail.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:30 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: On the roads
        

November 18, 2011

AAA projects 3.5 percent holiday travel rise

Despite continued economic uncertainty, AAA Mid-Atlantic forecasts a 3.5 percent increase in the number of Marylanders taking to the roads, rails and skies this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

AAA projects that 871,000 Marylanders will take trips of 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday -- its standard definition of  travel for many years. Thus, its surveys may not be capturing many travelers who leave on Tuesday or earlier.

The organization predicts that 799,000 of those travelers will go by car -- exactly matching the percentage increase in overall travel. It forecasts a 1.3 percent gain in air travel, to 61,000 passengers -- a second strong showing after a weak 2009.

The biggest surge, according to AAA, will come among intercity  rail and bus riders. It projects a 14 percent gain, though that represents only about 1 percent of travelers.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Air travel, Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

Gunther bus company says it's still running

It's been a bad week to be a transportation company owner with the surname Gunther.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this week that Gunthers Transport LLC, a Hanover-based trucking company, had been ordered off the road after the agency found a pattern of safety violations that posed an "imminent hazard" to public safety.

The news of that order to discontinue operations immediately had the unintended consequence of tarnishing the reputation of Gunther Charters Inc., a bus company that also has the misfortune to be based in Hanover.

Gunther Charters put out a news release Friday stressing that it is not affiliated with Gunthers Transport, which was accused of a long list of violations of federal trucking regulations. The trucking firms' vehicles have been involved in at least seven serious crashes in the past year, the agency said in an order released Wednesday. One of the truck company's crashes this year led to a death. Gunthers Transport was cited for multiple violations in that case.

Continue reading "Gunther bus company says it's still running" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

November 17, 2011

ICC project chief named to head SHA

Melinda Peters, the 38-year-old woman who has overseen construction of the $2.6 billion Intercounty Connector in suburban Washington, was named Thursday to head the State Highway Administration -- putting her in charge of an agency that is still recovering from a highly critical audit this summer.

The appointment by Gov. Martin O'Malley makes Peters the first woman to head a roughly $1 billion-a-year agency in a traditionally male profession. The announcement comes as the SHA is putting the final touches on the section of the ICC that completes the link between Interstates 270 and 95.

The highway is scheduled to open to traffic Tuesday morning. Completion of the section between Georgia Avenue and I-95 means the project is more than 90 percent complete, leaving only some feeder roads, landscaping and a final extension to U.S. 1.

Peters will succeed Neil J. Pedersen, who left the post in June just before the critical audit was issued, as permanent administrator. Deputy Secretary Darrell Mobley has been acting administrator in the interim.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:42 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

November 15, 2011

Broening Highway to get much-needed repaving

Broening Highway in Southeast Baltimore, easily one of the metropolitan region's most beat-up roads, is about to get a much-needed repaving.

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, said Monday that the city will put the estimated $16 million project out to bid in about two weeks. He said work on the project is expected to begin in early February.

Broening Highway runs alongside the Seagirt and Dundalk marine terminals and as a result in heavily used by tractor-trailers. The highway is vital to the operations of the Port of Baltimore, and the Maryland Department of Transportation is kicking in $5 million toward the repaving, Kendrick said.

Getting There raised the question with the city after Richard Lessans, CEO of Baltimore-based Commerce Corp., raised the question of the highway's condition in an email 

"It is frustrating to see the condition of Broening Highway, the main conduit to the port. From Holabird Ave. to the second port entrance, the road is uneven, full of potholes and has deep ruts in it," Lessans wrote. 

 

Continue reading "Broening Highway to get much-needed repaving" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:24 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: On the roads
        

November 10, 2011

More crashes at usual spot on JFX

A few weeks ago, Baltimore attorney David Rocah contacted Getting There to report that every rain seemed to bring at least one serious crash at a particular spot on the Jones Falls Expressway near Hampden-Woodberry.

I posted a blog item about his concerns and asked Rocah, who has a view from his office of that stretch of southbound Interstate 83 near Union Avenue between Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane. Rocah was good to his word and provided this update Thursday night:

Just so you don't think I'm crazy, I'm going to email you each time another accident occurs, so you can also see whether it happens each time it rains.  Today was (I'm pretty sure) the first rain since you wrote your blog, and sure enough, a few minutes ago there were 2 crashes in the exact same place I described to you.  

After the first accident, which was a single car skidding and hitting the wall, there was a 2nd multi-car pileup which involved a small bus and 1 or 2 other cars (not sure how many other cars; I couldn't see well, because it is dark, but could hear the screeching tires, and the sickening sounds of the cars hitting each other and the wall multiple times).

I have to say, I think its only a matter of time before someone gets killed there.  I've seen people taken away in ambulances almost every time.

So Baltimore City Department of Transportation, what gives here? Is there a design flaw in the highway that's contributing to crashes, or is it simply a case of Maryland drivers refusing to slow down in the rain?

If you do use the JFX, be warned. That area around the Pepsi sign is treacherous when wet.  Of course, which road isn't?

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:52 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

November 9, 2011

New departure at SHA follows critical audit

The top procurement official at the State Highway Administration has left the agency just five months after the release of a harshly critical legislative audit of the agency that criticized the agency's performance in the awarding of contracts.

The SHA announced the departure of Robert P. Gay, director of the SHA's Office of Procurement, in an email to staff Monday. Gay, a state employee since 1975, earned $92,950 a year.  SHA officials, saying they are restricted from commenting on personnel matters under state law, gave no explanation.  

But Gay, reached at his home in Harford County, confirmed his departure. He did not give details of the reasons he left but said "it's in line with all the audit stuff."

The wording of the announcement by Deputy Administrator Cheryl R. B. Hill was terse, giving no indication that the departure was a retirement. Here is the email:

This e-mail is to advise you that, as of today, Robert (Bob) P. Gay is no longer at SHA. Any procurement-related issues previously handled by Bob should be forwarded to Norie Calvert. Norie is serving as Acting Director of the Office of Procurement and Contracts until recruitment is completed and the position is filled. Small procurements will continue to be handled by Carole Zentz who reports to the Director of the Office of Procurement and Contracts. 

Continue reading "New departure at SHA follows critical audit" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

November 3, 2011

AAA puts annual cost of area crashes at $4.4 billion

Vehicle crashes ran up costs of almost $4.4 billion -- more than twice the cost of traffic congestion -- in the Baltimore area in a single year, according to a study by AAA.

The national study found that across the United States, the cost of crashes was triple that of congestion at almost $300 billion.

AAA looked at 2009, a year in which 245 people were killed in crashes in metropolitan Baltimore. That year the cost of congestion was $98 billion in the U.S. and $2 billion in Maryland, according to AAA. The study found that the cost of crashes exceeded that of congestion in each of the 99 metropolitan areas in the study -- whether large or small.

Continue reading "AAA puts annual cost of area crashes at $4.4 billion" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

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).

Continue reading "I-83 spectator finds rain means crashes at one spot" »

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.

 

Continue reading "Highway agency recruits 'snow squad'" »

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.

 

Continue reading "Maryland ignition interlock program expands" »

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

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 12, 2011

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.

Continue reading "Many streets closed for marathon. So, what's open?" »

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."

Continue reading "Charles Street repaving being done over" »

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
        

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.

Continue reading "SHA explains why big projects take years, not months" »

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

September 22, 2011

Baltimore County to relocate 3 speed cameras

The Baltimore County police will move three of their speed cameras from sites where driving behavior has improved to locations where additional enforcement may be needed, Chief James Johnson announced Thursday.

County-run speed cameras, which issue $40 tickets to drivers going 12 mph or more over the speed limit in selected school zones, will be installed at Middle River Middle School, Eastern Technical High School and Catonsville High School.

Police said an improvement in driver conduct since speed cameras were installed will allow them to deactivate cameras at Sparrows Point High School, Hawthorne Elementary School and Lansdowne High School. Some equipment may remain in place even after the cameras are moved, the department said.

Cameras will remain in place at 12 existing locations. All of the cameras will be used for enforcement from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., police said. Motorists will get a 30-day grace period at each of the new locations during which warnings rather than citations will be issued.

Continue reading "Baltimore County to relocate 3 speed cameras" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

September 15, 2011

Sobriety checkpoint on Key Bridge planned

The Maryland Transportation Authority Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint Friday night at the Francis Scott Key Bridge toll plaza.

If past performance is any indication, they won't be rounding up a vast number of drunken drivers -- but there will be some arrests. There's always a few drivers who are out of it just enough to ignore all warnings and drive right into the checkpoint after a night of boozing it up.

Many more drivers will leave the checkpoints with information on the dangers of driving under the influence.

The checkpoint hours were not announced.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

Storms didn't set back ICC progress

The last few weeks of rainy weather may have washed out roads and knocked out power to thousands of homes, but they didn't put a serious crimp in the progress of construction of the Intercounty Connector, Maryland's transportation chief says.

Shortly before Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit, contractors finished putting down at least one layer of pavement on the entire unopened stretch of the ICC between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95, Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said Thursday. The section between Georgia and Interstate 370 opened early this year.

The work that remains includes striping, putting up signage, installing guardrails and completing the top layers of pavement. Asked whether the entire stretch of the ICC linking the Interstate 95 and Interstate 270 corridors would open this year, Swaim-Staley crossed her fingers and said "weather permitting."

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

September 14, 2011

5 sections of state roads remain closed by storms

The State Highway Administration said late Wednesday that five sections of its road system -- most in Southern Maryland --  remain closed because of damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The only road section remaining closed in the Baltimore area is a ramp from Ritchie Highway to Route 100 in Anne Arundel County. It is expected to reopen midway through the fall after repairs costing an estimated $500,000.

The most serious damage occurred  to the bridge on Route 234 over Allens Fresh Run near La Plata in Charles County. The agency expects to open a temporary bridge by mid-November and begin design work on a permanent replacement for the damaged structure, estimated to cost $3 million.

 

 

Continue reading "5 sections of state roads remain closed by storms" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:26 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 24, 2011

SHA to inspect Southern Maryland bridge

The State Highway Administration said one of the bridges that will receive extra attention after Tuesday’s earthquake is the Thomas Johnson Bridge that carries Route 4 over the Patuxent River between Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.

The bridge, one of the state’s longest, will undergo inspections Wednesday and Thursday. Crews will alternate eastbound and westbound traffic to give inspectors room to work safely. Flagging operations will be in effect between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. both days.

The agency said structural engineers will inspect the 34-year-old bridge using a large crane with a bucket on an arm extending over the side and under the bridge. Officials said a truck will have to be parked in one lane of the bridge to permit a safe inspection.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 19, 2011

Fort Avenue Bridge to close Monday

The long-awaited replacement of the deteriorating Fort Avenue Bridge will begin Monday, when the Baltimore Department of Transportation will close the 91-year-old structure to vehicle traffic for most of the next year.

The $6 million reconstruction project on the main route to Fort McHenry is expected to be finished next spring -- in time for the the activities planned for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The project is being jointly funded by the city and CSX, which owns the railroad tracks the bridge crosses.

The transportation department said it has deployed variable message and detour signs in the neighborhood to inform motorists about the closing. While the bridge is closed to vehicles, traffic to Fort McHenry and other destinations at the end of the peninsula will be detoured onto Key Highway and Hull Street. During construction, pedestrians will still be able to use a walkway on one side of the bridge.

City officials said they have made contingency plans to maintain emergency services while the bridge is close to vehicles. According to the transportation department, an emergency alert system will notify residents by email, voice mail or text messages when a train is expected to block access routes for more than 10 minutes.

The city will provide updates for the community at www.fortavenuebridge.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:26 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 18, 2011

Inner Loop reopens after oversize-load mishap

The Inner Loop of the Beltway has reopened after being closed or narrowed down for about two hours because an oversized load struck the Crosby Road overpass near Woodlawn.

 State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said the incident occurred about 12:20 p.m. and involved an oversized aluminum container. He said the impact destroyed the container but did only minor damage to the bridge. Gischlar said the truck had an oversized-load permit.

 Gischlar said it was the second incident involving an oversized load and an over pass in the last two weeks. The previous incident occurred at the Capital Beltway and Forestville Road in Prince George's County. 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Region has 6,000+ with no car, no transit access

The greater Baltimore region has more than 6,000 household that lack either a car or access to mass transit services, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution.

That number is overshadowed by the more than 114,000 regional households that own no vehicles but do have access to transit. That puts the region at 94.6 percent coverage for zero-vehicle households -- coming in 20th out of 100 metropolitan areas around the country.

The Baltimore numbers do show a significant gap between the city and the suburbs in transit access for such households, most with low family incomes. While the city has 100 percent transit coverage, according to Brookings, 85.1 percent of no-vehicle households in the suburbs have such access.

When it comes to providing no-vehicle households with access to jobs, the region doesn't fare as well.  The report days Baltimore provides 42 percent of no-vehicle households with access to jobs -- ranking 32nd out of 100. Of those households, 50.3 percent are in the city and 23.7 percent in the  suburbs.

 

Continue reading "Region has 6,000+ with no car, no transit access" »

August 17, 2011

Hanover Street bridge to open

The Hanover Street drawbridge will be opened at about 1 p.m. for about 30 minutes, according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation. Delays are expected. Motorists may want to use Maryland 295 and Waterview Avenue as an alternative.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:15 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 15, 2011

Delegation members announce grants for Baltimore

A new Charm City Circulator route to Fort McHenry and a road project intended to reconnect West Baltimore communities divided by the "Highway to Nowhere" will receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, four members of the Maryland congressional delegation announced.

U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikuslki and Benjamin L. Cadin, along with U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes said the grants will provide $1.6 million for the new Circulator route and $1.7 million for the reconfiguration of the Fulton Avenue bridge in the part of the  U.S. 40 corridor known as the Highway to Nowhere.

The Circulator grant is expected to help the city get its free "Star Spangled" route in operation in time for the bicentennial observance of the War of 1812. The new route is expected to run from the Inner Harbor to the fort along Fort Avenue on a year-round basis. The grant will be used over three years and will cover 65 percent of the route's cost.

The West Baltimore project will reconfigure the five-lane Fulton bridge to integrate it with a pedestrian-bicycle network and to add landscaping and storm water management improvements. According to the delegation members, the project had been launched but was put on hold when funds ran short.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:52 PM | | Comments (4)
        

August 11, 2011

Sinkhole closes lane on I-70 at Frederick

The discovery of a sinkhole along Interstate 70 in Frederick has prompted the State Highway Administration to close the right lane of the eastbound highway so that crews can fill it with cement and rocks, the agency said.

The highway agency said it hopes to complete work on the stretch between Route 85 and South Street by the morning rush hour.  SHA spokesman Dave Buck said the sinkhole was discovered in the shoulder of I-70 but said the crews needed access to the right lane to make repairs. The llane was closed about 3 p.m.

Sinkholes are a perennial problem in that area of Frederick, particularly within 3 miles of the LaFarge quarry, Buck said.  There have been previous road closings along I-70  related to the Swiss cheese-like geological formations in the area.

The agency is urging motorists to use the Route 85 interchange to take East Street to Route 144 (Patrick Street) to reach the interstate and avoid the work site.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Prospects for 2011 ICC opening appear bright

In their officials statements, Maryland officials continue to estimate that the second and most important phases of the Intercounty Connector will open late this year or early in 2012. But having had favorable weather for much of the spring and summer, they are showing signs of optimism that the section completing the link between Interstate 270 and Interstate 95 will open sometime this year.

"We're optimistic about this year," said ICC project spokesman Ray Feldmann. He said officials might have a better fix on the opening date later this month.

The section of the $2.6 billion ICC between Interstate 370 (which feeds into I-270) and Georgia Avenue opened early this year. Contractors are working on the section between Georgia and I-95. Two other phases of the toll road project -- building feeder roads from I-95 and an extension to U.S. 1 -- have been deferred.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:27 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 10, 2011

Bicyclist struck near Hopkins in Feb. dies

Nathan Krasnopoler, the Johns Hopkins University student who was struck and critically injured by a car while riding his bicycle along University Parkway in February, died Wednesday morning at Gilchrist Center in Howard County, his family announced.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the family said the 83-year-old driver who struck Krasnopoler has agreed to forfeit her license.

Krasnopoler, a 20-year-old sophomore, never regained consciousness after suffering brain injuries when he collided Feb. 26 with a car that turned into his path. According to the family, he died peacefully with his family by his side almost a week after after entering hospice care Aug. 4.

A Baltimore woman, Jeannette Marie Walke of Baltimore pleaded guilty May 11 to negligent driving and failure to yield right of way to a bicyclist in a designated lane. She paid a fine of $220, about half the amount she could have been penalized has a police officer not made a mistake in writing  the citations, without appearing in court.

Continue reading "Bicyclist struck near Hopkins in Feb. dies" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:51 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

August 3, 2011

State sets up speed zone in Frederick County

If you're traveling between Frederick and Washington, you'd better watch your speed.

 The State Highway Administration has deployed speed cameras in a work zone on Interstate 270 at Maryland Route 80 in Fredrick County. The cameras are already being used to generate warnings and will begin issuing citation Aug. 23 for violators of the 55-mph work zones speed.

The speed camera zone is the eight in Maryland and the second in Frederick County to be launched under a state law permitting the highway agency to use automated enforcement in work zones. Motorists must be going 12 mph or more over the limit to receive camera-generated tickets. The SHA said warning signs and electronic speed indicators will be prominently placed in advance of the work zones.

The I-270 speed crackdown comes as the agency is planning a major traffic shift in which it will divert northbound I-270 onto a temporary bridge  in the highway median. Traffic will use the temporary span as the state removes and replaces the existing bridge deck.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 2, 2011

Gulag on the Patapsco for Grand Prix?

Commuters coming into downtown Baltimore this morning were greeted by the sight of protective fencing extending above the previously installed barrier walls for the Labor Day weekend Grand Prix race.

Have you ever seen anything as ugly? The concrete barriers weren't so bad, but the fencing gives downtown all the ambiance of the Gulag Archipelago.

If we're going to have to host this event for four more years, couldn't the organizers at least put off erecting this prison-like fencing until just before the event instead of inflicting it on residents and visitors for nearly a month?

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:53 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads
        

August 1, 2011

Web site tries to help ease Grand Prix pain

The Grand Prix race coming to the streets of Baltimore Labor Day weekend promises to be a traffic headache without equal in this city, but at least it's spawned a better-than-decent web site aimed at easing the pain.

Launched several weeks ago in a bare-bones form, the Grand Prix traffic web site is now up and running with what could be useful information for motorists and transit riders trying to find their way around town during the race and the days leading up to it.

While many would prefer that the disruption be avoided completely by relocating the race to, say, Death Valley, at least the city government is providing useful information on closed streets, alternate routes and bus diversions.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:22 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 27, 2011

Crash victim wonders if city gives a hoot

Emily Chalmers wrote Getting There to share her experiences as a traffic-crash victim in Baltimore. It's enough to make anyone think twice about bringing a car into the city. Here's the story, in her own words:


On Saturday afternoon (July 23), I was in a three-car accident in northeast Baltimore.  I was the collateral damage, my tiny car mashed by a giant SUV that bounced off something that looked like a Sierra van.  Because I was miraculously unhurt, I jumped out of my car and immediately entered what I can only describe as an alternate reality.
 

Continue reading "Crash victim wonders if city gives a hoot" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:21 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 25, 2011

SHA closing shoulders for pipe repairs

The State Highway Administration has begun one pipe-cleaning project at the Beltway and expects to launch another one Wednesday along U.S. 1 in Halethorpe. Both projects are expected to have a minimal traffic impact.

Already under way is the cleaning and repair of the underground pipes that carry a small stream that flows into Dead Run under the Beltway at Security Boulevard. That job will require the closure of the shoulders of the ramps to and from the boulevard. The work will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday and between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday-Thursday until the early fall.

The second project, to start Wednesday, will clean and repair the pipes that carry a tributary of Herbert Run under U.S. 1 (Southwestern Boulevard) between the Halethorpe MARC station and Alternate UU.S. 1 (Washington Boulevard). That work will involve shoulder closings along U.S. 1  during the same hours -- also until early autumn.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 22, 2011

Police to set up sobriety checkpoint at Bay Bridge

Hitting the bars in Annapolis and then returning to Kent Island is always a bad idea, but it could be an especially costly mistake this weekend.

The Maryland Transportation Authority Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night on the Bay Bridge. The police plan to set up the checkpoint at an unspecified time at the toll plaza on the eastbound bridge.

Drivers who show no signs of intoxication will get a pamphlet. Those who do could wind up in handcuffs.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

July 20, 2011

Motorcycle parking in Baltimore isn't EZ

Matt Bezanson of Hampden is a motorcyclist who finds it frustrating that Baltimore's vaunted new parking system, while in many ways an improvement over meters, is not kind to folks on two wheels. Here's what he asked Getting There.

My Question: Are there any changes planned for Baltimore City's EZ Park system to accommodate motorcycles? It has come to my attention that motorcycles are expected to use the same paper ticket as cars but there is now way to secure these tickets to a bike AND make them easily visible for the people writing parking tickets. 
 

Continue reading "Motorcycle parking in Baltimore isn't EZ" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:54 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 19, 2011

Poll shows U.S. drivers distracted by dogs

U.S. driving skills are going to the dogs.

That's the gist of a new survey by AAA and the pet product company Kurgo that examined the driving habits of American dog owners. The study finds that drivers are frequently distracted by their canine passengers in multiple ways: from restraining them to feeding them to driving with them on their laps.

The survey shows that during the past year, 56 percent of dog owners have driven with their pets at least once a month. But only 16 percent of them use a pet restraint device -- a safety measure advocated by the AAA.

"Drivers should use a pet restraint system every time their dog is in the vehicle," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Christine Delise. "A restraint will not only limit distractions, but also protect the driver, the pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop.”

 

Continue reading "Poll shows U.S. drivers distracted by dogs" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:45 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 18, 2011

SHA closing parkway at intervals for bridge work

The southbound Baltimore-Washington Parkway will be narrowed to a single lane Tuesday night an Wednesday morning as work crews remove two steel beams from the old Hammonds Ferry Road bridge.

The work will begin at 10 p.m. and continue until 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. Beginning at midnight, there will be occasional 15-minute closings of all southbound lanes. The State Highway Administration is urging drivers heading from Baltimore to the BWI Marshall Airport area to use Interstate 95, Interstate 97 or Route 170 as alternate routes.

The beam removal is part of a $2.9 million project to rehabilitate the Nursery Road and Hammonds Ferry Road bridge over the parkway (Maryland Route 295) in Anne Arundel County.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 12, 2011

SHA to hold meeting on Wilkens bridge project

The State Highway will hold an informational meeting Wednesday in southwestern Baltimore County on a large bridge replacement project that is about to get under way at Wilkens Avenue and the Beltway.

According to the agency, the purpose will bet to update residents and commuters  about the replacement of the 55-year-old Interstate 695 Inner Loop bridge over Wilkens, which is expected to start next month.

The meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Halethorpe Elementary School cafeteria
4300 Maple Avenue, The agency said residents can arrive any time in that period to ask questions and to view information about the project.

Continue reading "SHA to hold meeting on Wilkens bridge project" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

July 8, 2011

Parkway lanes to close this weekend

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway will be reduced to one travel lane in each direction overnight Saturday and Sunday as the State Highway Administration continues its demolition work on the Hammonds Ferry Road bridges,

The northbound parkway (Maryland 295) will be closed from the Beltway to Interstate 195 except for one lane at 9 p.m. Saturday and will reopen by 10 a.m. Sunday. The southbound parkway will not be reduced to a single lane until Monday to allow traffic to leave the Monster Truck Show at the Ravens stadium. The closed lanes will also reopen by 10 a.m.

On Sunday, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction from 8 p.m. until about 4 a.m.

The work involves removal of the bridge parapet walls and the stone facade as part of a bridge rehabilitation project. The highway agency said the lane closings must start before the actual work zone for the safety of workers and motorists.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Light, Conway lanes to close for Grand Prix work

Baltimore motorists face another couple weeks of closures related to the Labor Day weekend Grand Prix race as the city Department of Transportation blocks off lanes of Light and Conway streets.

The closings on Light will begin Monday at 6 a.m. in the northbound lanes between Key Highway and Pratt Street. They are expected to continue for about two weeks. According to the city, two northbound lanes will remain open for commuters.

In addition, contractors are expected to begin paving Conway Street, where the old asphalt has been scraped off. Spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said that work is expected to take place Tuesday through Thursday if weather permits. She said the work would involve lane closings but did not yet have details on the times.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:23 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 30, 2011

Survey: Two-thirds in region want red light cameras

A survey by a prominent highway safety group shows two-thirds support for the use of red light cameras in Baltimore and 13 other large U.S. cities, indicating the public believes study findings that the devices reduce auto fatalities.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said its survey shows that 67 percent of respondents in Baltimore  support the use of the camera -- a percentage that is in line with the national average.

Other cities in the survey ranged from 78 percent support in Washington to 48 percent favorable in Long Beach, Calif. The survey did not address public acceptance of speed camera.

 

Continue reading "Survey: Two-thirds in region want red light cameras" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:34 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 29, 2011

Delaware Toll Plaza bottleneck uncorked?

Could this be the end of the infamous Delaware bottleneck?

Teri Moss, spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, was kind enough to pass on the news that Delaware officials have announced that the expansion project at the Newark Toll Plaza is expected to be complete and fully operational this Fourth of July weekend. According to the Delaware Department of Transportation, its contractor on the $32.6 million expansion project completed work a month ahead of schedule, allowing it to open all lanes in time for the weekend. Among other things, the project will ad E-ZPass lanes that drivers can use at highway speeds.

Continue reading "Delaware Toll Plaza bottleneck uncorked?" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:37 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 23, 2011

Grand Prix area closings move to Charles. Pratt

The next step in the series of road closings in the area of the Labor Day weekend's Grand PPrix race will come next week on Charles and Pratt streets.

The Baltimore Department of Transportation said Charles will be closed between Conway and Pratt streets sttarting at 5 a.m. Monday for roadway construction. The work is expected to continue for about two weeks, during which left turns from Pratt onto Charles will be prohibited.

Meanwhile, two lanes of Pratt Street will be closed between Hopkins Place and Calvert Strreet for the next two weeks. Those closings, which had been suspended this week, will resume at 6 a.m. Monday.

The department warned that motorists can expect delays.

Drivers have been coping with many delays in the section of downtown between Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor over the last few months as the city and BGE have rushed to complete projects in advance of the Indy car race.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 22, 2011

Concert traffic easing, but real test comes afterward

Downtown traffic, swollen by a 7 p.m. U2 concert at M&T Bank Stadium, was starting to ease as the event reached its scheduled starting time.

 Baltimore Department of Transportation Department spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said traffic was still congested, with backups on Russell street as well as on Lombard, St. Paul and Light streets, but starting to slack off.

Concert-goers may have eased the pain by spreading out their arrival times. Many fans arrived at the stadium hours in advance.

The real test will likely come when the concert ends about 11 p.m. and 75,000-80,000 all try to get home at once. That's more people than the typical crowd for a Ravens game, and football fans know what the traffic can be like after Monday night football.

Here's betting a lot  of folks miss their usual bedtime tonight.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Downtown traffic not too bad, city says

As of about 5:30 p.m. the expected traffic congestion from the influx of U2 fans to M&T Bank Stadium wasn't looking too bad, according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

Department spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said some backups were developing on St. Paul and Light streets but added that there was "nothing too crazy because of the concert."

As of 6:10 p.m., Navteq's Traffic.com maps were showing no backups onto Interstate 95 or Maryland RRoute 295 as a result of inbound Baltimore traffic.

Some 75,000-80,000 people are expected to attend the 7 p.m. concert.

UPDATE: At 5:50 p.m., Chopper reported that traffic was backed up on Lombard Street between President and Light. That's not unusual for the time of day.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

So far, so good on downtown traffic

While serious congestion is expected downtown this evening as a result of the U2 concert at M&T Bank Stadium, traffic was still flowing normally as of about 3:55 p.m., according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

But don't count on that lasting too long.

The city is warning drivers they could face significant delays Wednesday afternoon and evening as an estimated 75,000-80,000 people flock to the Ravens' stadium for the concert.

The event starts at 7 p.m., but its traffic effects are expected to begin well before that. Commuters may want to seek out alternate routes or change their departure times to avoid the congestion.

The partnership also noted that light rail and Metro service is expected to continue for about an hour after the concert's scheduled end at 11 p.m. The Maryland Transit Administration said it would add capacity to both systems to help accommodate the expected throng of riders.

Continue reading "So far, so good on downtown traffic" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Nicodemus Road bridge to reopen Friday

A new bridge carrying Nicodemus Road over Liberty Reservoir between Baltimore and Carroll counties will open to traffic after almost two years under construction, the Baltimore Department of Transportation has announced.


The department, which maintains the bridge because it falls within the city-owned reservoir system, said the concrete replacement bridge is scheduled to open to vehicles and pedestrians about 3. p.m. Friday. The new two-lane bridge, with a sidewalk, is 552-feet long and passes over water as deep as 90 feet. (The city had earlier said the bridge would open Monday.)

Continue reading "Nicodemus Road bridge to reopen Friday" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:22 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Driver sounds off about Baltimore traffic flow

Getting There receives many complaints about traffic in Baltimore -- particularly the synchronization of lights. But Donna Aldridge of Baltimore dis a particularly good job of summing up the headaches.

 Here's what she had to say:


I have lived in Baltimore for about 9 years now and I don’t understand the traffic flow in Baltimore City.  I am thinking it is something the local folks understand. I do not.

The traffic moves much slower than most cities.  People drive slower in the left lane, don’t use turn signals and constantly talk on their cell phones. 

Continue reading "Driver sounds off about Baltimore traffic flow" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:15 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: On the roads
        

Concert expected to bring traffic woes today

U2 could get caught in a downtown traffic jams.

The Downtown Partnership is warning drivers they could face significant delays Wednesday afternoon and evening as an estimated 75,000-80,000 people flock to the Ravens' stadium for a concert by U2.

The concert starts at 7 p.m., but its traffic effects are expected to begin hours before that. Commuters may want to seek out alternate routes or change their departure times to avoid the congestion.

The partnership also noted that light rail and Metro service is expected to continue for about an hour after the concert's scheduled end at 11 p.m. The Maryland Transit Administration said it would add capacity to both systems to help accommodate the expected throng of riders.

 

Continue reading "Concert expected to bring traffic woes today" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:03 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 21, 2011

Howard launches bike, pedestrian safety drive

Howard County has launched a campaign to protect pedestrians and bicyclists on its roads, but don't be surprised of some folks on foot or or bikes are made unhappy by the methods.

The campaign announced Tuesday by County Executive Ken Ulman and Police Chief William McMahon involves stepped-up ticketing of traffic violations by pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists. The program will focus on areas that have been identified as having a high number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes -- including Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, U.S. 40 in Ellicott City and U.S. 1 in Elkridge and laurel.

Under the program, police will issue tickets to pedestrians who fail to use a crosswalk as well as to the drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians who are crossing them. Bicyclists can be written up for failing to obey signals, while drivers can be ticketed for failing to allow 3 feet of space when following a bicyclist.

 

Continue reading "Howard launches bike, pedestrian safety drive" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:19 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 15, 2011

Pedersen to retire as state highway chief

Neil J. Pedersen, the eight-year head of the State Highway Administration who oversaw the development and construction of the Intercounty Connector as well as hundreds of smaller road projects, announced Wednesday that he is stepping dowm.

Pedersen, 60, whose retirement as state highway administrator will be effective June 30, said he is stepping down for "personal reasons."

"my wife and I have a number of things that we would like to do but have not been able to while I have been SHA Adminsitrator," he wrote in a memo to the agency. "We also realize the importance of spending time with our families while we are able to do so."

Pedersen's retirement after 29 years with the system has not been widely expected. He was named head of the SHA by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2003.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:30 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: On the roads
        

City seeks bids on two CSX bridge projects

At long last, Baltimore's Department of Transportation began seeking bids  from contractors Wednesday for the replacement of two deteriorating city bridges that take important roads over CSX tracks in the city.

Bids are due July 13 on contracts for the replacements of the aged CSX bridges on Sinclair Lane in Northeast Baltimore and Fort Avenue in Locust Point -- both of which have had severe structural deficiencies for many years.

The bid solicitation is a major step in a long process of negotiation, engineering and design that has encountered significant delays because of  the thorny issues raised by bridge replacements on heavily used city streets.

Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, said contracts for construction will be awarded in late July and -- barring a bid protest -- work will proceed in August.

"There ain't no stopping us now," he said.

Continue reading "City seeks bids on two CSX bridge projects" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:17 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 13, 2011

MVA launches emergency contact program

Holders of Maryland driver's licenses can now list on their driving records the names of people to be contacted in the case of an emergency under a program launched this week by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

The MVA has established a voluntary Emergency Contact Information Registry under which Marylanders can store information with their electronic driving records on who law enforcement officials should get in touch with in the event of a traffic crash or similar emergency. Holders of state driving licenses or identification cards can list up top three persons to be notified.

Emergency contacct information can be submitted online at www.mva.maryland.gov or at kiosks at MVA offices. According to the MVA, the information will be available only to law enforcement.

According to the MVA, the idea for the program was advanced in legislation sponsored by Del. Gail Bates and former Sen. Sandy Schrader, both Howard County Republicans. The legislation did not pass the General Assembly but was eventually adopted by the agency.

The MVA said the need for the registry was underscored by cases such as that of Karen Knight, whose son Andrew was killed in a crash that left his wife incapacitated. Because she was listed as next of kin, his parents did not learn of the fatality until 10 hours later through a voice mail message.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:20 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 9, 2011

Updated: Emergency repairs cause backup at McHenry Tunnel

Update: As of 11:20 p.m., crews were wrapping up asphalt repairs, says Maryland Transportation Authority spokeswoman Terri Moss. The left-hand tube of the southbound tunnel would also undergo scheduled maintenance, she said, but was supposed to reopen by 5 a.m. Friday -- in time for rush hour.

 ---

Serious backups developed on Interstate 95 at the Fort Mchenry Tunnel after the Maryland Transprtation Authority closed the left-hand tube of southbound tunnel for repair of heat-related damage Thursday, leaving only two of four lanes in operation.

The two lanes of the right-hand tube remained open, but the closing -- which came just as the evening rush hour was getting started -- had traffic at a virtual standstill until well after 7 p.m. The state's CHART system cameras showed serious backups extending at least as far back as the I-95/I-895 split.

Authority spokeswoman Teri Moss said two concrete slabs rose 4 inches and buckled because of the heat. Crews were jackhammering and patching the damage. Cheryl Sparks, another authority spokeswoman, said repairs were expected to be completed in time for the morning rush hour. She said that as of 7:30 p.m. traffic was backed up about a half-mile approaching the tunnel.

The authority suggested that southbound travelers on Interstate 95 divert to Interstate 895 and use the Harbor Tunnel. Motorists could also use Interstate 695 and the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

Northbound 295 lanes close for emergency fix

The Maryland Transportation Authority says it has had to close two of the three lanes of northbound Maryland 295 on the way into Baltimore for emergency repairs to joints on the bridge that passes over Interstate 895 near the Beltway. The left lane will remain open.

The repairs will continue through the evening rush hour but are expected to be completed by 5 a.m., according to the authority.

The agency suggested that motorists coming north into Baltimore get off 295 at the Beltway and take it west to Interstate 95. It noted that the right lane of northbound 95 is also expected to close between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Teri Moss, an authority spokeswoman, said concrete on the bridge became separated from the joint as a result of wear and tear. She said the damage was not believed to be heat-related.

In some respects, the timing was fortunate. The closings will not affect outbound traffic on Russell Street and 295 during the evening rush hour, and there is no Orioles game at Camden Yards tonight.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Hammonds Ferry bridge to close

The Hammonds Ferry Road bridge over Maryland Route 295 will close for about 12 weeks starting next Wednesday so road crews can begin a $3.2 million rehabilitation project that will fully replace the 62-year-old driving surface of the twin spans.

The State Highway Administration said it is closing the bridge so that crews can remove four steel beams, demolish the bridge decks and build a new driving surface and walls, among other tasks.

SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said the driving surface has been patched since it was built in 1949 but has never been fully replaced. "It's just taken its toll. It's time to replace the driving surface," he said.

Continue reading "Hammonds Ferry bridge to close" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 8, 2011

New Argonne bridge expected to open in July

A reader named Greg wanted to know where progress on the replacement of the Argonne Drive bridge in Northeast Baltimore stands. As he put it, "getting from Harford Rd to Hillen Rd, and points west has been a pain for the past year."

Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Transportation, provided a prompt reply that gives some room for hope:

The Project is going well. The new bridge deck is in place along with new sidewalk and brick treated parapet walls. The contractor installed the new ornamental fencing at the parapet walls. The new 30"  water main was activated and is in service.

Continue reading "New Argonne bridge expected to open in July" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:11 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 7, 2011

SHA to split lanes at Beltway and Liberty Road

Motorists on the Beltway will encounter split lanes on the Inner Loop at Liberty Road starting Tuesday night as the State Highway Administration shifts into a new phase of its bridge replacement project at the site.

Workers will begin the process by closing one right lane at 7 p.m. and a second at 10 p.m. to install concrete barriers and pavement markings. On Wednesday mornings, drivers will find all four lanes of the Beltway open but with three lanes of through traffic flowing to the left of the barrier and one to the right. The right lane can be used either as a through lane or to exit.

According to the SHA, the split traffic pattern will remain in effect until late fall.

 

Continue reading "SHA to split lanes at Beltway and Liberty Road" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:03 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Hudson River plane passes through area

Photo by Michael Dresser

"Hudson River Miracle' plane is prepared for the road at its overnight stop in Perryville.

The wingless body of the plane that made a spectacular crash landing on the Hudson River in 2009 made an uneventful passage through the Baltimore area Tuesday morning, barely slowing late morning traffic as it cruised along the interstates on its way to Charlotte, N.C.

The 120-foot section of aircraft fuselage that carries passengers aboard USAir Flight 1549 when it struck a flock of birds shortly after takeoff left its overnight rest stop at a Perryville weigh station at 9:17 a.m. and began its journey down Interstate 95.

While the plane had poked along at speeds of less than 10 mph during the early part of its trip from New Jersey to the Carolinas Aviation Museum, it picked up speed in Maryland and maintained a pace of 35-50 mph for its trip from Perryville to Interstate 95. The huges yellow truck carrying the over-sized load circled Baltimore on the Outer Loop of the Beltway and headed west on Interstate 70.

 

Continue reading "Hudson River plane passes through area" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:20 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 3, 2011

Grand Prix closings to 'intensify' Monday

The downtown traffic woes resulting from the rush to get the city's roads ready for the Labor Day Baltimore Grand Prix race are going to get worse before they get better.

The Baltimore Department of Transportation says part of Conway Street, the downtown gateway that has already been the site of extensive lane closings, will shut down entirely for about two weeks starting Monday at 5 a.m.

The closings will affect eastbound and westbound traffic between Charles and Light streets. In addition, the road work that has been taking place on southbound light Street will shift to the lanes that had remained open.

Continue reading "Grand Prix closings to 'intensify' Monday" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 2, 2011

Authority board formally proposes toll increase plan

The Maryland Transportation Authority board gave its preliminary approval today to the most sweeping package of toll increases in its history, saying higher rates are unavoidable because of the need to pay off debt and maintain an aging system,

The board’s unanimous vote moves the proposal moves to a series of nine public hearings across the state. It also triggers a 60-day public comment period after which the board will weigh possible changes and take a final vote. The first phase of the proposal is expected  go into effect Oct. 1, with a second to follow in July 2013.

Under the proposal, the cost of a round-trip at the three Baltimore Harbor crossings – the Fort McHenry and Harbor tunnels and the Key Bridge -- would go from $4 to $6 round trip in October. Tolls there, unlike at most Maryland facilities,  are collected in each direction.

Continue reading "Authority board formally proposes toll increase plan" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:48 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: On the roads
        

June 1, 2011

MTA chief repudiates photographer curbs

The head of the Maryland Transit Administration flatly repudiated Wednesday the efforts by some of the agency's police officers to forbid photographers from shooting pictures of MTA equipment or from MTA property, vowing to settle all the issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland before a lawsuit can be filed.

Agency Administrator Ralign T. Wells said MTA officers were not properly representing MTA policy when they ordered two amateur photographers to stop taking pictures and video of light rail trains earlier this year. Wells said he would apologize to the photographers and take steps to make sure that officers respect the First Amendment rights of photographers.

"We don't have a policy restricting photography," Wells said. "The actions of some of these officers are not reflective of the agency stance."

The MTA chief offered an explanation, but not an excuse, for why transit police officers ordered Olev Taremae of Bethlehem, Pa., and Christopher Fussell of Portland, Ore., to stop taking pictures and video in two separate incidents in February and March.

"There's just a high sensitivity post-9/11 to photographers. We obviously have to back off of that," he said.

 

Continue reading "MTA chief repudiates photographer curbs" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:16 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 27, 2011

Lesser fine for driver who hit bicyclist was blunder

The Baltimore woman whose driving errors led to a crash that left bicyclist Nathan Krasnopoler in a coma with possibly permanent brain injuries has resolved the traffic charges against her by paying  $220  – about half the amount she would have been fined if the Baltimore police had not erred in writing the tickets.

Jeannette Marie Walke, 83, pleaded guilty May 11 to negligent driving and failure to yield tight-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated lane. There was no indication in court records that she chose to appear in court. Such charges can be resolved by sending in a standard fine by mail.

Nathan Krasnopoler, a Johns Hopkins University student, collided with Walke's car Feb. 26 when she turned in front of him on University Drive near the Homewood Campus. According to his family, he retains brain stem function but is not expected to regain consciousness. The Krasnopolers have filed a $10 million lawsuit against Walke.

Walke could have been fined $400 had not the police officer who wrote the tickets blundered.

Continue reading "Lesser fine for driver who hit bicyclist was blunder" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Light rail and pedestrians: Why not a crosswalk?

A light rail train was heading north on Howard Street in downtown Baltimore when it made a stop on the right side between Lexington and Saratoga. Dozens of passengers disembarked, and the vast majority of them crossed over the street in the middle of the block, just behind the train.

This may not be strictly legal but it is human nature. No amount of legislating or fulminating or lecturing will stop it. Rich or poor, black or white, male or female, young or old -- it seems we all want to get from Point A to Point B by taking a straight line.

My question for the city Department of Transportation is this: Given that this is how pedestrians react to this configuration of transit and street, why not create a crosswalk at the point where they are going to cross anyway? Even when pedestrians are in the wrong, drivers are obligated to avoid hitting them anyway, so why not provide that extra measure of protection to people on foot?

Here's a modest suggestion: Have one of those sharp traffic engineers with the department follow the light rail through town and chart where the passengers are crossing. Then design measures to protect them. It's not as if Howard Street was intended to be a fast-moving street for drivers.

Yes, the city could wait for a fatality. Or, at the risk of sounding unoriginal, it could "do it now."

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:33 PM | | Comments (7)
        

Artlcle explains why long commutes are killers

An article in Slate by Annie Lowrey, entitled "Your Commute is Killing You," has plenty of relevance in Maryland, which has the dubious distinction of offering its residents some of the longest commutes in the United States.

The article is based on the findings of a Swedish university study, but there's no reason to think the ill effects of long commutes -- increased obesity, less exercis and less family time -- aren't equally applicable here.

According to the U.S. Census, Maryland has the second-longest commutes in the country and is dead last in the percentage of commuters who enjoy a daily trip of 15 minutes or less.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:38 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: On the roads
        

Driver whose error left bicyclist in coma fined $220

The Baltimore woman whose driving errors led to a crash that left bicyclist Nathan Krasnopoler in a coma with possibly permanent brain injuries has resolved the traffic charges against her by paying a $220 fine.

Jeannette Marie Walke, 83, pleaded guilty May 11 to negligent driving and failure to yield tight-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated lane. There was no indication in court records that she chose to appear in court. Such charges can be resolved by sending in a standard fine by mail.

Nathan Krasnopoler, a Johns Hopkins University student, collided with Walke's car Feb. 26 when she turned in front of him on University Drive near the Homewood Campus. According to his family, he retains brain stem function but is not expected to regain consciousness. The Krasnopolers have filed a $10 million lawsuit against Walke.

It was unclear why the negligent driving fine was assessed at $140 rather than the $280 allowed under state law for cases involving a crash. Court records erroneously indicate the charges did not result in an accident or personal injury.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:11 AM | | Comments (33)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 26, 2011

City announces Fells Point pedestrian changes

In response to a neighborhood outcry, Baltimore' s Department of Transportation and City Councilman Jim Kraft announced a series of changes to pedestrian signals and crosswalks intended to make walking safer in Fells Point.

Transportation Director Khalil Zaied said the city will soon adjust the signals at seven Fells Point intersections to flash an automatic "walk" sign at set intervals between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The intersections include east-west Eastern Avenue and Fleet Street where they cross north-south Wolfe, Ann and Washington Streets, as well as the intersection of Gough and Wolfe streets.

 

Continue reading "City announces Fells Point pedestrian changes" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:29 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

Maryland drivers test 49th out of 51

Maryland motorists may not be the nation's worst, but they seem to be close contenders.

The state's drivers scored third from the bottom this year in an annual written test of knowledge of the rules of the road, according to GMAC Insurance.

Maryland drivers placed 49th out of 51 in the company's seventh annual National Driver's Test, with a score of 73.3 percent, trailing only Hawaii (73 percent) and the basement-dwelling District of Columbia. Rounding out the Feckless Five were New Jersey in 48th and Massachusetts in 47th.

Leading the pack was repeat champion Kansas, where the 82.9 percent score was 5 points above the national average. Following close behind were Iowa, Colorado and  Minnesota. Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana and Missouri tied for fifth.

How important the results are in terms of actual traffic safety are unclear. In terms of actual road deaths, Maryland is far from the bottom. And even a GMAC representative agreed that the survey is subject to sampling errors.

 

Continue reading "Maryland drivers test 49th out of 51" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:21 AM | | Comments (72)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 24, 2011

Md. ranked 15th most deadly for pedestrians

Maryland is ranked as the 15th most dangerous for pedestrians of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a national study released this week by the advocacy group Transportation for America.

Meanwhile, Baltimore is ranked as the 32nd most dangerous metropolitan area for walkers out of 52 in the United States, according to the latest version of the report "Dangerous by Design." However, the report singles out Baltimore an an example of a region where pedestrian deaths have increased over the past decade -- from 43 in 2000 to 62 in 2009 at a time when total traffic deaths fell by almost 6 percent.

The report ranks states and cities by a proprietary Pedestrian Danger Index that weighs the number of pedestrian deaths in an area over the past decade against the total amount of walking activity in the region. Thus, metropolitan New York ranks among the safest on the index despite having the the greatest number of pedestrian deaths in the years 2000-2009.

Maryland is assigned a score of 76.4 on the index compared with 182.8 for the most dangerous state, Florida, and 11.2 for the safest, Vermont.

Continue reading "Md. ranked 15th most deadly for pedestrians" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:44 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 23, 2011

SHA proclaims 'Year of the Bridge'

Motorists in Maryland can expect to encounter an abundance of road projects this spring and summer as the State Highway Administration embarks on what it has dubbed its "Year of the Bridge."

The agency will be replacing or performing major repairs on 25 bridges across the state -- including four on the Baltimore Beltway.

Two of the Beltway bridge replacements -- at Liberty Road and Charles Street -- have been under way for more than a year. Soon to follow will be the bridges at Wilkens Avenue and Frederick Road.

State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen noted at a news conference Monday that many of the bridges over the Beltway were built during the 1950s and 1960s and are wearing out at about the same time.

Continue reading "SHA proclaims 'Year of the Bridge'" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls to rise July 1

It's not just Maryland that's raising tolls.

The price of crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge in a two-axle passenger vehicle is scheduled to rise from $3 to $4 July 1 after the Delaware River and Bay Authority adopted a new toll schedule last week. Tolls at the bridge are collected from southbound drivers only.

The bridge, which crosses the Delaware River between the Wilmington area and southern New Jersey on Interstate 95, is part of the most heavily traveled route between the Baltimore area and New York. It is the first toll increase at the facility since 2000.

 

Continue reading "Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls to rise July 1" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:48 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Gas price drop by 11 cents in a week

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Maryland dropped by a little more than a dime over the past week, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report shows an average Maryland price of $3.89, 11 cents down from the $4 registered a week ago. The June 2008 record of $4.05 appears to have held for the time being, and AAA expects further price declines this summer.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Signs of the (end) times

rapture

Photo courtesy of Peter Werweth     

Peter Werweth reports that he snapped this photo of a highway sign at 9:05 a.m. on Homewood Road in Howard County, just north of Route 108.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:13 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 20, 2011

Drivers said to violate HOV rules with impunity

M. M. of Annapolis didn't want her full name used because the people she's blowing the whistle on may be her neighbors. But she's raising a valid issue about the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on U.S. 50:

Is anyone monitoring the Rt 50 HOV lanes??  A recent job change has me traveling this road frequently, and I am amazed at the total lack of adherence to the HOV2 postings.  Easily 3 out of 4 cars passing me as I sit in traffic have only  one person in the vehicle.  The regularity of this offense has me convinced that no one has ever been ticketed for violating the rule, so the offending  solo drivers just use it with abandon.

So what do you think, folks? Do the State Police need to stage soem highly visible enforcement actions to bring this under control?

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:57 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 19, 2011

AAA predicts brisk Memorial Day travel

AAA is predicting that American drivers will shrug off the high price of gasoline and take to the roads over the Memorial Day weekend in about the same numbers as they did last year.

Even though the price of gasoline is running more than $1 higher than at the same time last year, AAA forecasts a decline of only 0.3 percent in the number of travelers taking to the road for trips of 50 miles or more between Thursday and Monday of the weekend.

AAA expects a slight 0.2 increase in the total number of travelers over the weekend, with a 11.5 percent increase in air travel canceling out the small decrease in driving. Of 34.9 million Americans expected to travel, AAA expects 30.9 million to go by car.

According to AAA, an improved economy is offsetting the price of gasoline in affecting travel plans.

AAA Mid-Atlantic is expected to release its prediction of Maryland travel trends for the weekend on Tuesday.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Baltimore MVA office leaving Mondawmin

For 40 years, the place for Baltimoreans to go to get a driver's license or return license plates in the city has been Mondawmin Mall. No more.

The state Motor Vehicle Administration's Baltimore office is leaving its longtime home at Mondawmin Mall and relocating to a new site up Reisterstown Road.

Friday will be its last day at the mall, where it has been since 1971. On Monday it will reopen at the Hilltop Shopping Center at 5424 Reisterstown Road. On Saturday morning, when there is normally service betwen 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., the city office will be closed for moving.

MVA spokesman Buel  Young said the agency is moving because it lost its lease at Mondawmin. He said the new office will have the state's first 24-hour kiosk for registration renewals and twice as many parking spaces -- 400 -- as the Mondawmin location.

 

Continue reading "Baltimore MVA office leaving Mondawmin" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 13, 2011

Record Maryland gas prices? Not yet, says AAA

Maryland gas prices continue to flirt with an all-time record, but pulled back a little Friday.

According to AAA, the statewide average price of a gallon of regular, which had reached $4.04 Thursday, retreated to $4.034 Friday. The record, set in June 2008, is $4.053.

Prices had steadily climbed since September until beginning to flutter just shy of $4 last week. Then came flooding on the Mississippi River, which helped drive prices up by about 6 cents.

So have prices hit their high-water mark and started receding? Or is the market pausing for breath before a new assault on the summit? AAA's prediction is that prices will remain volatile over the next few weeks before sinking to the $3.25-$3.75 range. But such a decline could be delayed if a new crisis breaks out anywhere from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico.

What seems almost inevitable is that after one of these spikes, $4 will become the new normal -- just as $3 gas did a few years ago. Who among us wouldn't welcome a sign saying $3.05 at our local gas station? Someday, unless there's a technological game-changer, we'll likely feel the same about $4.05.

But not yet.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:23 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 11, 2011

Gas price exceeds $4, but good news may be near

On a day when the average price of a gallon of gas passed $4 for the first time since 2008, AAA Mid-Atlantic says it has good news about fuel prices.

AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella said the group's oil  analysts believe that with Wednesday's 3-cent increase in the Maryland average to $4.005, the market is at or near its top. She said they expect a few weeks of volatility, followed by a significant decrease in prices at the pump.

Averella, who participated in a conference call with AAA analysts Wednesday, said AAA is unsure whether the decreases will come quickly enough to affect Memorial Day travel plans. But she said the group expects to see prices in the $3.25-$3.75 range -- and "maybe even lower" -- by July and August.

Continue reading "Gas price exceeds $4, but good news may be near" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:37 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

Statewide average gas price goes past $4

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Maryland broke the $4 mark today for the first time since 2008 and only the second time in history.

AAA reported that the statewide average jumped almost 3 cents -- from $3.977 to $4.005 -- overnight after a few days of modest declines.

The increase came despite signs last week that the run-up in gas prices since last September may be approaching a peak. Crude oil prices, the single biggest component in the cost of gas, took a tumble last week on world markets, but it can often take several weeks for such changes to appear at the pump.

By now, $4 gas is old news to many Marylanders who fuel up in more expensive zones of the Baltimore metropolitan area. But there are still many stations around the city that have so far held the line below the psychologically daunting $4 mark.

Wednesday's price is still a few cents below the $4.05 record sent in June 2008. A year ago, the average Maryland price was more than $1 less -- $2. 882.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 10, 2011

Bill to use cameras to enforce school bus law OKd

Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed a bill Tuesday  that will permit local jurisdictions to install cameras on school buses to enforce the law against passing those vehicles when they stop to pick up or drop off children.

 The bill, proposed by Frederick County Republican Sen. David Brinkley, would allow a fine of up to $250 for violations detected by the cameras. Because the cameras identify the car, and not the driver, the law does not impose points for such violations.

Thw General Assembly passed the law after local and state school officials conducted a study showing thousands of violations each day of the law requiring drivers to stop for school buses with their flashing red lights on and stop sign extended.

School bus passing will be the third category of traffic law for which enforcement by cameras is permitted, State law currently allows their use to enforce laws to enforce law against red light running and speeding in school zones and work zones.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:21 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

O'Malley signs manslaughter bill

Despite misgivings from some of Maryland's state's attorneys, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill Tuesday that is intended to make it easier to impose serious penalties on drivers who kill people as a result of serious negligence.

The legislation, which had the backing of bicycle advocates and survivors of victims of vehicle crashes, fills what proponents called a gap between the traffic offense of negligent driving and felony vehicular homicide.

The new charge of manslaughter by criminally negligent homicide, carries a jail term of up to three years. Proponents said it has been almost impossible to win convictions of the felony manslaughter charge unless prosecutors could show the defendants had been driving drunk or engaging in a street race.

Proponents say the new charge could not be applied for ordinary driving mistakes that have fatal consequences but only for flagrant violations that lead to another's death.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:18 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 6, 2011

City clarifies stance on Fells Point lights

After a city official said Monday that changes had been made to the traffic signals in Fells Point to restore the automatic "walk" signs at several intersections, neighborhood residents quickly rose it to say it wasn't so.

It turns out they were right. And some thought they had been deceived.

"If the city has decided against a response to the community's concerns, they can at least provide a condescending, 'we studied the issue and decided to not change the timing' response as opposed to -- I'm sorry to be so blunt -- a lie," one resident wrote.

But Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, has an explanation: He misspoke.

Kendrick said the city did make a quick change to the signals after Fells Pointers complained last week that changes to the pedestrian signals at several intersections had made crossing more hazardous for pedestrians. After a trip to Fells Point and a tour, Kendrick agreed to make changes almost immediately.

But the  immediate changes did not include a restoration of automatic walk signals at each corner, as Kendrick had mistakenly indicated. He said that what he should have said -- and what the city had promised -- was that it would restore the automatic "all red" second during which vehicle traffic is halted in all directions. That, he said, was accomplished last Monday.

Continue reading "City clarifies stance on Fells Point lights" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Happy 200th to the National Road

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pointing out that this weekend marks the 200th anniversary of what could be called the United States' first interstate highway: the National Road from Cumberland to what is now Wheeling, W.Va.

Construction of the road was authorized by Congress in 1806 but didn't begin until May 8, 1811 -- setting a precedent of road project delays that persists to this day. The highway would eventually be extended to Vandalia, Ill., much of it along the route of the current U.S. 40. 

History buffs will find plenty going in in Cumberland, including a parade, to mark the occasion.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Could this be the crest of the gas price wave?

Could it be that gas price flood waters are about to recede?

After months of steady increases, the average price of a gallon of regular dipped slightly Friday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

We're not talking about anything dramatic here, but that price dropped four-tenths of a cent between Thursday and Friday -- going from $3.986 to $3.982. By itself that wouldn't mean much, but crude oil prices have been declining this week after last week's killing of Osama bin Laden. And on Thursday the price of crude -- the biggest factor in gas prices -- took a tumble of nearly 10 percent.

If this does prove to be a market top, prices would fall short of the 2008 Maryland record of $4.05. Stay tuned. The next week could tell whether travel will be constrained by gas prices or freed up by an otherwise expanding economy. 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 5, 2011

Arundel police to publicize 'move over' law

The Anne Arundel County police will conduct a campaign over the next several months to inform drivers about Maryland's "move over" law -- adopted in 2010 to protect officers and first responders by the side of the road.

Police in the county will conduct special enforcement details on busy highways -- including Interstate 97, Route 2 and Route 10, to educate motorists about the law, which passed the General Assembly without a great deal of fanfare in the spring of 2010.

The law, which mirrors those in many other states, require drivers to move over to an open lane farther from the site of a traffic stop if possible. A driver who can't make a lane shift is required to slow to a "reasonable and prudent" speed while passing flashing lights at the scene of a traffic stop or roadside emergency.

Continue reading "Arundel police to publicize 'move over' law" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:25 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 4, 2011

Water main break to tie up Towson traffic

This just in from the State Highway Administration:

There is a water main break along Southbound York Road (MD 45) at Fairmount Avenue in Towson. Traffic is using the Northbound lanes. Lanes will likely be closed through the morning rush hour.

Charlie Gischlar

SHA Communications

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Price of gas on Russell Street exceeds $4.05

The statewide average price of a gallon of regular gas is still a hair under $4 at $3.981, up nine-10ths of a cent since Tuesday, but coming into Baltimore on Russell Street, the quad mark was in the rear view mirror. All of the gas stations I sawhad the price at $4.059. That would be a fraction above the old statewide record average of $4.053 set in 2008, according to AAA.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 8:22 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

May 3, 2011

Conway Street congestion expected to get worse

The already congested commute through Baltimore's Conway Street bottleneck is expected to become even more constricted for the next five to six weeks as the city ramps up a series of closings for utility and repaving work.

Conway Street, a well-traveled link between Interstate 95 and Light Street, has been the site of lane closings for weeks as the city prepares for the downtown Grand Prix race scheduled for September and as BGE works to seal gas leaks from underground utility lines.

As of Monday at 6 a.m., if weather permits, the closings are expected to become ever more disruptive, and city transportation officials are urging motorists to avoid Conway and use alternate routes into and out of downtown.

 

 

Continue reading "Conway Street congestion expected to get worse" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Pratt Street lane closings to shift

The lane closings now bedeviling motorists on Pratt Street are neither ending nor getting worse, but they are shifting side of the street.

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation says that if weather permits it expects to wrap up its work on the northern two lanes of the eastbound downtown street and to begin work on the southern lanes starting Monday if weather permits. The work, which will take place between Eutaw and Calvert streets,  is part of the infrastructure improvements being carries out in advance of the downtown Grand Prix race scheduled for September.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:26 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

City makes changes to Fells Point walking signals

The Baltimore Department of Transportation has made changes to the signals controlling pedestrian traffic in Fells Point after hearing complaints from local residents, a city official said Tuesday.

The city's actions comes a week after this blog reported that some Fells Pointers thought a previous round of changes made it more difficult to walk safely through the historic community.

Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, said Fells Point residents complained to the city last week that pedestrians were not getting walk signals unless they pushed buttons installed for that purpose. Kendrick said that in response to that perception, the city has reprogrammed signals so that they automatically flash periodic walk signals at several busy Fells Point intersections. He said the changes were made Monday after transportation officials and neighborhood residents visited some of the intersections last week to observe pedestrian movements.

"For us, that was lightning speed," Kendrick said. "We appreciate their concerns and we are doing our best to accommodate their desires."

 

Continue reading "City makes changes to Fells Point walking signals" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:32 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Price of gas on a course to break $4 a gallon

If current trends continue, the average price of a gallon of gas in Maryland is poised to go over the $4 mark in the next week.

According to AAA, the Maryland average for a gallon of regular stands at $3.97 today, up from $3.89 a year ago. The all-time record was set in June 2008 at $4.05. A year ago the price stood at $2.87.

In the Washington suburbs, the average price broke the $4 mark overnight and now stands at $4.01. Baltimore's price slightly lags the statewide  average.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:42 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

City to close streets for Flower Mart

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation will close streets and restrict parking in the Mount Vernon neighborhood this weekend for the annual Flower Mart.

The closings will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday to prepare for the event Friday and Saturday at the Washington Monument. Charles Street will be closed from Centre Street to Read Street until midnight Sunday morning. Madison Street and Mount Vernon Place will be closed between St. Paul and Cathedral streets during the same times.  

Parking restrictions will be in effect from 2 p.m. Thursday until 11 p.m. Saturday. The Flower Mart will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 26, 2011

Newest speed camera zone is on Interstate 70

The State Highway Administration will deploy work zone speed cameras along Interstate 70 around Frederick as part of a $40 million project of safety improvements in that corridor.

According to the agency, the cameras will be deployed Monday but will issue warnings only for 21 days. As of May 23, the cameras will issue citations for vehicles going 12 mph or more above the 55-mph speed limit.

The I-70 corridor project includes two new bridges over South Street. improved ramp access from that street and Monocacy Boulevard, new merge lanes and a new railroad crossing in that area.

The speed camera zone would be the sixth instituted under the SHA's Maryland SafeZones program, which uses cameras and laser technology to enforce speed limits in long-term work zones. Other zones where cameras have been deployed include bridge replacements projects on the Beltway at Charles Street and Liberty Road; the Intercounty Connector project along Inbterstate 95 near Beltsville; Maryland 295 south of Baltimore, and the Express Toll Lane project on I-95 northeast of Baltimore.

The Frederick project is expected to be completed in summer 2013.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:50 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: On the roads
        

City officials to observe Fells Point foot traffic

Fells Point residents and city transportation officials will get together to jointly observe pedestrian traffic patterns in the historic neighborhood, City Councilman Jim Kraft says.

The meeting at noon Thursday at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Wolfe Street comes in response to recent complaints (outlined below) that changes implemented by the city Transportation Department have made the streets of Fells Point less walkable.

Kraft said Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, has agreed to join local residents in observing traffic movements there to determine whether they are working. Kraft said the event is open to all who care to show up.

The Southeast Baltimore councilman said Kendrick has already agreed to one of the requests made by local resident Rebecca Smith, who has been agitating for more pedestrian-friendly traffic signals. Kraft said the city will speed up installation of countdown walk signals similar to those common downtown at key intersections in the heart of Fells Point.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Citizen fights Fells Point pedestrian changes

Rebecca Smith, founder of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, wrote The Sun recently with a complaint that would have brought quick action when William Donald Schaefer was mayor. Getting There can't promise the same type of results, but it can give a public airing to Smith's complaints about changes the city Department of Transportation has made to the pedestrian signals in Fells Point:

I am writing to ask you to stand up for neighborhoods and walkability in Baltimore City--to move Baltimore forward as a progressive, walkable city that is safe and hospitable to residents, businesses, and visitors--instead of taking us backward to a far less enlightened time when cities were designed only around the needs of the car.

As you know, in November, the Baltimore City Council adopted a "Complete Streets" initiative, which binds the city to consider ALL users in transportation and planning decisions--this means, as you know, that decisions about our streets should consider the needs of walkers, bikers, and transit riders, NOT just automobiles.

Now we are faced with a litmus test to determine whether the City Council's commitment is genuine.

Continue reading "Citizen fights Fells Point pedestrian changes" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:50 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: On the roads
        

Closings, detours expected on I-95

Interstate 95 south of the Fort McHenry Tunnel will be the site of multiple lane closings over the weekend as crews work to resurface the main highway and some ramps and to upgrade lighting in the area.

The Maryland Transportation Authority, which maintains that stretch of I-95, said the ramp from southbound I-95 to westbound Caton Avenue will be closed from, 5 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday. A detour using the eastbound exit will be in place.

The two left lanes of northbound and southbound I-95 from the Beltway to the tunnel will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday until 11 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday at 9 p.m., the authority will close the ramp from southbound Russell Street to southbound I-95 until 5 a.m. Monday. A detour will be in place. All of the road work is contingent upon weather conditions.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 22, 2011

State to improve Towson roundabout (again)

The State Highway Administration is taking another crack at the Towson roundabout -- aiming to improve safety and traffic flow at an intersection that has bedeviled engineers for decades.


The agency said it will launch a $632,000 project at the roundabout in the heart of the downtown area Tuesday, requiring a series of lane closings that will continue through late summer.


But the SHA said this round of work, unlike previous projects, is not intended to fix something wrong but to make permanent some of the changes it got right in 2008.


”Basically this is the final version of the improvements we did in 2008,” said Fran Ward, SHA District 4 community liaison.

Continue reading "State to improve Towson roundabout (again)" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:59 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: On the roads
        

Gas prices rise for 4th straight week to $3.85

The Easter weekend has brought Maryland drivers a rotten egg in the form of gasoline prices.

The state's gas prices continued what looks like an inexorable march toward the $4 mark this week as they increased 3 cents from a week ago to match the national average for a gallon of unleaded of $3.85. It was the fourth straight week that prices have increased. The average has steadily climbed by 78 cents since the beginning of the year and is threatening to reach the $4 mark  by Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

AAA said the increase has been driven by a run-up in the price of crude oil, which has been affected by unrest in the Middle East.

Continue reading "Gas prices rise for 4th straight week to $3.85" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:10 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 21, 2011

Maryland woman named MADD national president


MADD, the national organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving, announced Thursday that a Maryland woman who lost her 15-year-old daughter in a crash caused by an intoxicated motorist has been elected its national president.

Jan Withers of Upper Marlboro, who will serve a three-year term at MADD's helm, was introduced at a news conference at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

According to MADD, Withers joined the group in 1992 after her daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed in a crash caused by an underage drunk driver.  Withers, who has served as a MADD volunteer for almost 20 years, will take office July 1.

According to MADD, Withers was an active participant in the successful national and Maryland campaigns to lower the blood-alcohol content level at which a driver is considered drunk from .10 to .08, which has become the national standard. She has served on the national MADD board since 2005.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Road closings for Schaefer memorials announced

The Baltimore Department of Transportation has announced a series of road closings and parking restrictions as part of the memorial services for former Gov. and Mayor William Donald Schaefer next week. The city urges motorists who do not need to be in the areas of the tour Monday and funeral Wednesday to avoid driving there.

Monday

During the late afternoon, a procession for Schaefer will travel through the city to some of his favorite destinations, including the Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, before his body arrives at City Hall, where he will lie in state 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

Road closings

Saratoga Street between Gay and Holliday Streets from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Lexington Street between Guilford Avenue and Gay Street from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Holliday Street from Saratoga to Lexington Streets from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The city said there will be briefer closings of other streets along the tour route.

 Tuesday

Schaefer lies in state at City Hall, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Road closings

None

Wednesday

Funeral for Schaefer will be held at Old St. Paul’s Church at 11 a.m..

Road closings

Fayette Street between Gay and N. Charles Streets from 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

N. Charles Street between Fayette and Mulberry Streets from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Saratoga Street between Liberty and Charles Streets from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

There  will be briefer closings on streets along the procession routes.

Garages

Regular patrons of garages ion the vicinity of the church will have access to them until 9 a.m. From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., there will be controlled access to the garages.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 20, 2011

Red arrow means no turn no matter which lane

Richard Ulrich of Glen Arm had a question about driving rules, so he posed it to Getting There. While this blogger would like to think of himself as an expert on driving rules, it is the Motor Vehicle Administration that is the actual arbiter. So here's Ulrich's question, with the MVA's answer to follow:

I suspect this has probably come up for discussion before, but just in case it hasn't...

Four of us were having a discussion over breakfast the other day.  We are all 50+, graduate degrees out the wazoo, 160+ years of licensed driving experience in the state of Maryland.  The question was this:

At the intersection of Lombard and Light Streets, the two left-most lanes are turning lanes onto Light St. and each lane has a traffic light signal with left-turn red arrows.  The third lane from the left on Lombard St. is marked for both left-turning as well as continuing straight on Lombard.  The question:  If the two left-turn arrows are red, is a car in that adjacent third lane required to stop in accordance with the red arrows, or is it allowed to proceed without stopping as long as the traffic signal for Lombard St. through traffic is green?

Continue reading "Red arrow means no turn no matter which lane" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:33 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads
        

Downtown projects bring multiple lane closings

With the end of the winter construction hiatus and road projects in full swing, drivers who use the streets between Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor are seeing plenty of orange barrels and cones these days. And thanks to a proliferation of lanes closings in the area, they have plenty of time to count them.

The current spate of traffic tie-ups, which are expected to continue a couple more months, are the result of a combination of utility projects and the city’s continuing effort to prepare its streets for a Grand Prix auto race over Labor Day weekend.

Light, Pratt and Howard streets are among the major drags affected by the current proliferation of construction and maintenance jobs. Conway Street, that short but vital connector used by many commuters from south of the city to get from Interstate 95 to the Inner Harbor, is the site of several projects involving both BGE gas lines and Baltimore’s aspirations to be a center of Indy car racing.

The Grand Prix is expected to bring tens of thousands of racing fans to Baltimore for a three-day "festival of speed" that is part of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series. Race sponsors have enlisted retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, to serve as grand marshal of the event.

Continue reading "Downtown projects bring multiple lane closings" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:48 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 18, 2011

Lane closings to tie up Conway Street

The Baltimore Department of Transportation has begun a series of lane closings on Conway Street that are expected to tie up traffic on one of the city's major gateways to the Inner Harbor for several weeks.

The full-time closings, which started today, will affect Conway, both eastbound and westbound, between Howard and Charles streets. The city said the closings for construction work are expected to continue for several weeks -- potentially causing backups during morning commuting hours.

The Transportation Department is urging inbound commuters to use Martin Luther King Boulevard to Baltimore or Mulberry streets to bypass the closings. It urged outbound travelers to take Lombard Street to Greene Street to avoid congestion.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:46 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Going to the Shore today? Go north

If you are traveling from the Baltimore area to the Eastern Shore today, it might just be time to try the northern route. The eastbound span of the Bay Bridge could remain closed for a couple more hours as a result of a crash this morning (see below), and there are serious backups.

There are several alternate routes to locations on the Delmarva peninsula. The simplest route to the Delaware beaches and Ocean City involves taking Interstate 95 to Delaware Route 1 and heading south. People who don't want to pay Delaware Turnpike tolls can get of I-95 at Route 272 and drive a short distance south to U.S. 40. Take U.S. 40 to Delaware 72 south, which leads to either Delaware 1 (a toll road) or free U.S. 13.

People whose destination is on the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland should take U.S. 40 to Route 213 south, which joins up with U.S. 301 in Kent County. Free road maps can be obtained at the Maryland House or the Chesapeake House on I-95.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 12, 2011

Driver, 83, ticketed in collision with bicycle

The 83-year-old driver of a car that struck and gravely injured a 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student who was bicycling near the university has been ticketed for two alleged traffic violations, the Baltimore State's Attorney and Police Department said Tuesday.

The decision to charge Jeanette Marie Walke in the crash with Nathan Krasnopoler on Feb. 26 comes despite an initial announcement by police that charges were not expected. That statement brought a flurry of criticism from advocates for Maryland bicyclists, who have long contended that city police are too quick to excuse drivers involved in crashes with bikes.

Walke received two traffic citations -- for negligent driving and failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated bike lane. However, State' Attorney Gregg Bernstein said an investigation found no evidence of gross negligence, which would be required to justify a felony prosecution for vehicular manslaughter if the victim were to die.

 

Continue reading "Driver, 83, ticketed in collision with bicycle" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:17 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

Detour set at Beltway and Charles Street

The State Highway Administration will begin about three weeks of overnight closures of the westbound Beltway at Charles Street tonight to let it install structural steel beams for a new bridge.

Crews will begin the closures Sunday through Thursday nights at 8 p.m. by taking away a single lane. They will close a second lane at 10 p.m. and the remaining lanes from 11 p.m. through 5 a.m.

Continue reading "Detour set at Beltway and Charles Street" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:32 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

Bike advocates cheer manslaughter bill's passage

Advocates for Maryland's bicyclists expressed delight Tuesday that the General Assembly passed a bill creating a new misdemeanor offense for drivers who kill people as a result of serious negligence, giving prosecutors and alternative between traffic charges and felony manslaughter.

The legislation passed both houses in the waning hours of the 2011 session Monday night after the House accepted a Senate amendment crafted to lessen the chance that a driver would serve time in jail for a death caused by routine driving errors.

Proponents say the new charge of manslaughter by criminal negligence, punishable by up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine, fills a gap in the law between simple traffic offenses such as negligent driving and felony automotive manslaughter.

Continue reading "Bike advocates cheer manslaughter bill's passage" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

April 6, 2011

Roads were built for cars? Not so

Getting There has had a ton of comments on the subject of the respective rights of bicycles and motor vehicles on the road in recent days. One of the most frequent comments has been an variation on the theme of: "The roads were built for automobiles."

The problem: It isn't so. There's no basis for that statement in law or in American history.

Law? There's not a state in the Union that reserves the use of the roads for autos only -- with the exception of limited-access highways. Otherwise, Hummers and Schwinns enjoy equal access (if not throw-weight).

History? Here's a tidbit from Suite101.com:

In May, 1880, riding clubs and manufacturers met in Newport, Rhode Island to form the League of American Wheelmen. Its main purpose was for the support of bicycling burgeoning and to protect their interests in Washington D.C. Then in 1891, the League went national and started to publish their magazine known as Good Roads Magazine. The national magazine started to garnish much attention in readership and solidified a movement celebrated as the Good Roads Movement.

That movement gained momentum with the support of auto enthusiasts after 1900, but from the early days of paved roadways in the United States, they were built with bicycles in mind as one of the users.

Continue reading "Roads were built for cars? Not so" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:32 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads
        

April 5, 2011

Bicyclists to ride for manslaughter bill

Bike Maryland will hold a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis Wednesday morning to mobilize support for a bill that would create a new offense of manslaughter by criminal negligence – more serious than a traffic charge but with a lesser penalty than felony vehicular manslaughter.

The bicyclists will leave Baltimore's War Memorial Plaza aboutt 8 a.m.  and take the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail to the state capital, where they are being urged to attend a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill has passed the House but the Senate committee's  chairman, Brian E. Frosh, has expressed misgivings about the legislation, saying it could lead to jail terms for people who commit unintentional driving errors.

Continue reading "Bicyclists to ride for manslaughter bill " »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:57 PM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

Family issues statement on Krasnopoler's condition

The family of Nathan Krasnopoler, the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student who was struck by a car while bicycling near the university in February, is reporting Tuesday that doctors now have "no hope of a meaningful recovery."

The family's statement, which follows an earlier email from a Hopkins dean to the university community, said physicians have determined that the damage to Krasnopoler's brain is permanent and that he is "not expected to regain any cognitive function."

The statement does not say that Krasnopoler has no brain activity or all or that death is imminent, but it leaves little hope that he will regain consciousness after the Feb. 26 collision with a car driven by an 83-year-old woman who was making a right turn into a driveway off University Parkway.

 

Continue reading "Family issues statement on Krasnopoler's condition" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

Krasnopoler not expected to recover brain function

Nathan Krasnopoler, the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student who was struck by a motorist while bicycling on University Parkway in February, is not expected to recover conscious brain function, according to an email sent out by the university.

Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea said the following email from Nicholas Jones, dean of the school of engineering, was released at the request of the family:

 

We have sad news to report regarding Nathan Krasnopoler, our student who was hit by a car and critically injured on Feb. 26. Nathan's family has informed us that the brain damage that Nathan sustained as a result of the accident appears to be permanent and he is not expected to recover any cognitive function. We are deeply saddened to learn this and ask that everyone join us in keeping Nathan and his family in their thoughts at this very difficult time.

Krasnopoler had been in a coma since the collision. His case has aroused anger among the region's bicycle advocates, who saw the Baltimore police department's original response as inadequate. The police have since promised a thorough investigation.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:56 AM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

April 4, 2011

BWI closing ramp to I-195, terminal

A ramp leading to the terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has been closed for a reconstruction and repaving project.

The ramp from northbound Route 170 (Aviation Boulevard) to eastbound Interstate 195 is expected to remain closed through next Sunday if the weather doesn't interfere with the project.

Vehicles that would normally use I-195 to reach the terminal from northbound Aviation Boulevard can instead get there using Terminal Road about a half-mile farther north. Detour signs will be in place.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Air travel, On the roads
        

March 30, 2011

Hanover Street Bridge passes inspection

Drivers in South Baltimore may have been puzzled today to see the Hanover Street drawbridge in the up position, with traffic being detoured, but city officials say it wasn't stuck. Rather, it was undergoing a scheduled inspection of the drawbridge mechanism that required intermittent closings of the bridge between South Baltimore and Cherry Hill after 9 a.m.

The testing was completed shortly after 1 p.m.  and the bridge passed  muster, said city  Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Study shows Maryland bridges better than most

IN a report that finds the overall condition of the nation's bridges to be alarming, a transportation advocacy group had sound that Maryland doesn't look bad compared with most other states.

Transportation for America, a coalition of groups that support increased investment in the nation's transportation infrastructure, reported that Maryland has a lower percentage of structurally deficient bridges than all but 11 other states.

In a ranking in which No. 1 was the worst a state could do, Maryland was No. 40, with  6.9 percent of its bridges ranked structurally deficient -- a measure under which one of three key components ranks 4 or lower on a 10-point scale during bridge inspections. The national average was 11.5 percent.

 

Continue reading "Study shows Maryland bridges better than most" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 29, 2011

AAA, lawmakers seek new auto manslaughter law

AAA Mid-Atlantic, lawmakers and relatives of highway traffic victims gathered in Annapolis today to call on the Maryland Senate to pass a bill that they said would close a "loophole" in the state's law for dealing with drivers who kill others through negligence behind the wheel.

The advocates urged senators to join the House in approving a measure that would create an intermediate misdemeanor offense of negligent homicide between the traffic ticket charge of negligent driving and the felony offense of automotive manslaughter.

Prosecutors told the House they have difficulty securing manslaughter convictions of people whose serious negligence on the road has killed people unless there is evidence they were drunk or engaged in a street race. They said courts have ruled that charge can be  applied only in cases of gross negligence.

Continue reading "AAA, lawmakers seek new auto manslaughter law " »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 28, 2011

Gansler urges ban on app that can alert drunk drivers

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler joined with his counterpart in Delaware Monday to urge Google and Apple to ban a smartphone application that helps motorists avoid drunk-driving checkpoints.

Gansler and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in calling on the manufacturers of the popular iPhone and Android devices to block  the use of the checkpoint-evasion apps from use on their products.

According to the attorneys general, the apps can be downloaded to the  smartphones and used to learn the locations of drunk-driving checkpoints and to spread the word to other motorists.

 

Continue reading "Gansler urges ban on app that can alert drunk drivers" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:41 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 27, 2011

Google still directing traffic onto unfinished ICC

How long does it take Google to correct an egregious error in its mapping program once it's brought to the company's attention?

We don't know, but it's longer than 48 hours.

On Friday, The Sun notified the company that its Google Maps program was directing drivers heading from Baltimore to Gaithersburg and other destinations in the Interstate 270 corridor of Montgomery County to get off Interstate 95 and take the Intercounty Connector (Route 200).

The catch is that the 10-mile stretch of the ICC between I-95 and Georgia Avenue won't open until late this year or early in 2012. Only the segment between Georgia Avenue and the Interstate 370 spur off I-270 is open.

A Google spokeswoman said Friday that the company hopes to have the error fixed by early this week.

It would appear that steering people onto a road that's a construction site wasn't seen as serious enough mistake to pay technicians weekend rates to make an emergency fix. Is this just Google being frugal?

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

March 25, 2011

On Google, the ICC is open all the way to I-370

On Google World, the 41.9-mile trip from Baltimore to Gaithersburg takes all of 48 minutes along the brand new Intercounty Connector. Just take Interstate 95 south, hop on the ICC and you’re virtually there.

On Planet Earth, most of the ICC hasn’t opened yet. The 10 miles between I-95 and the Montgomery County high-tech hotbed is largely a muddy track where bulldozers are still doing what bulldozers do.

Oops.

In a textbook illustration of the computer adage “garbage in, garbage out,” Google and another popular Web-based mapping service have jumped the gun on the opening of the longest segment of Maryland’s new toll road by about a year (Click on image above to enlarge).

“Beware: Everything you read on the Internet may not be true,” Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA-Mid-Atlantic, chortled when told about the error.

Continue reading "On Google, the ICC is open all the way to I-370" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:28 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities, On the roads
        

March 23, 2011

Auto manslaughter bill moves ahead in House

A bill that proponents contend would close the gap between a traffic ticket and a felony vehicular manslaughter charge for drivers responsible for the deaths of others has won approval from the House committee where it had languished for many years.

The bill to establish an intermediate charge of manslaughter by criminal negligence won prelimary approval from the full House Wednesday after recieiving a unanimous vote Tuesday night in the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been stalled for many years without receiving a vote.

The bill's advance cheered advocates for bicyclists' groups such as Bike Maryland, who are among the most vocal supporters of the legislation. But their joy could be short-lived because even if the bill passes on a final vote in the House, it faces a skeptical reception in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

 

Continue reading "Auto manslaughter bill moves ahead in House" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads
        

Ignition interlock bills emerge but are at odds

The House and Senate are moving forward with two very different versions of legislation intended to increase the use of ignition interlock devices to prevent convicted drunk drivers from starting their cars if they've been drinking alcohol, setting up a possible impasse over a final bill.

The Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill supported by MADD Maryland and other highway safety advocates that would make installation of the devices mandatory for all convicted drunk drivers. Meanwhile, the House took the same step Wednesday with a bill supported by the liquor lobby that would focus on repeat offenders and people who took tests that revealed a blood-alcohol content of .15 -- almost twice the .08 level required for conviction on a charge of driving under the influence. MADD said it opposes the House bill and would rather see no legislation than one that uses a standard lower than .08. 

As in past years, Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Vallario Jr., sponsor of the House bill,  has opposed making interlock mandatory for all first-time drunk-driving convicts. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate committee that approved the stronger measure said the upper house is unlikely to accept a version of the bill that is opposed by MADD.

Barring an unexpected intervention by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, the ignition interlock debate is likely to end without agreement -- as it did last year.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Bereano rakes in yet another speeding ticket

Lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano added one more to his awesome collection of speeding tickets this month when he was cited for going 55 mph in a 40-mph zone on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis.

The trial set for April 15 appears to be the first for Bereano under the new system -- launched Jan. 1 -- under which a defendant has to request a day in court for traffic offenses. Bereano is already scheduled for trial April 7 on a charge of going 88 in a 65-mph zone of Interstate 97 at Route 648. The case, originally set for last year under the old system, has been twice rescheduled because Bereano failed to appear, according to court records.

Those cases come on top of one guilty plea and one probation before judgment in speeding cases for which he was ticketed last year. All told, Bereano has tallied more than two dozen tickets since 1996. Is there some kind of Lifetime Achievement award for speeders?

The good news for Bereano is that his two pending cases are in his home county of Anne Arundel, where the judiciary has treated him very kindly in the past. His record there includes an acquittal and two probation-before-judgment decisions.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 8:26 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 22, 2011

Ignition interlock thrives in Senate, ails in House

A bill that would require the installation of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles owned by all those convicted of drunk driving in Maryland has passed two key tests in the Senate, but appears to be on the rocks in the House.

The Senate gave preliminary approval to the MADD-backed bill Tuesday after adopting amendments to eliminate a requirement that drivers who refuse blood-alcohol tests be forced into the program. The action followed approval of the bill Monday by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

The measure appears poised for easy approval in the Senate, which passed similar legislation last year. But a companion measure in the House of Delegates appears no closer to passage than last year, when it was killed in the House Judiciary Committee without a vote.

Continue reading "Ignition interlock thrives in Senate, ails in House" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 21, 2011

Panel rejects tough drunk driving bill

The House Judiciary Committee live up to its reputation as the graveyard of strong drunk-driving legislation last week as it killed a bill that would have increased penalties for refusing to take a blood-alcohol test for a second time. The bill would have allowed a $1,000 fine or up to a 12-month jail term for such a refusal.

The bill was one of the primary objectives of anti-drunk-driving activists during this legislative session and won the endorsement of police and prosecutors.

The committee rejected the measure on a 12-7 vote.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:54 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 17, 2011

Parents can keep puffing with child in car

Parents can puff away in peace after the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee rejected a bill Thursday that would have prohibited adults from smoking in a car in which a young child is a passenger.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jennie Forehand, D-Montgomery, would have imposed a $50 fine on motorists caught smoking tobacco -- or letting a passenger do so -- in a vehicle occupied by a child under 8 years old.

Proponents contended such smoking in a confined space is a health hazard for children.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Senate panel rejects rear seat belt use mandate

A Senate committee has rejected a bill that would have required all occupants of a car, including adults in the rear seat, to have their seat belts buckled while the vehicle was in motion.

The bill, whose prospects had appeared good in a House subcommittee just Thursday morning, was voted down by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in the afternoon.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Montgomery County Democrat Jennie Forehand, would have applied the current seat belt violation fine of $25 for drivers to all passengers 16 and older as well.

Current law requires seat belt use by rear seat passengers only if they are younger than 16.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Monkton Road to be resurfaced

Using some its last available economic stimulus money, the State Highway Administration is starting a $977,000 project today to resurface Monkton Road in northern Baltimore County.

The SHA will mill off the top layer of 3 1/2 miles on the road (Route 138) between York Road and the Gunpowder Falls Bridge. The work will involve lane closures at any time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays and between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The agency urges motorists to allow for extra travel time if using that road between Hereford and Monkton, including the access point to the Torrey C. Brown NCR Rail Trail. The project is expected to continue until mid-May.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

The City that Scrimps on Gas?

Baltimoreans rank No. 1 in the United States in using their GPS units to track down cheap gasoline, according to a national survey.

TeleNav, a leading provider of GPS services and consumer data, found that Baltimore led the nation in the average number of searches for the lowest price at the pump. But the same survey found that Maryland had slipped from the top to No. 2 among the highest average users of GPS for all purposes. The District of Columbia grabbed the No. 1 spot.

The survey found that the most-searched-for business destination nationally was the local Walmart store. Target was a distant second, while Starbucks slipped one spot to No. 3.

Continue reading "The City that Scrimps on Gas?" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 16, 2011

SHA to close lanes on Spa Creek Bridge

The trip from downtown Annapolis to the Martime Republic of Eastport may get a little slower at night next week when the State Highway Administration closes one lane for the Spa Creek Bridge for maintenance and uses flaggers to direct two-way traffic.

The southbound sidewalk will also be closed to pedestrians during the work, which will take place Monday through Thursday nights starting a 6:30 p.m.  Crews will be performing preventive maintenance on the southbound approach to the Compromise Street drawbridge until 5 a.m. the following mornings.

The SHA said it's possible that if the weather is favorable, the work could be finished in as little as two nights.

One  can only hope the work isn't too much of an inconvenience for legislators and lobbyists on their way to Ruth's Chris Steak House.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Our own nomination for worst pothole

It might not be the widest or deepest or most damaging pothole in Maryland but it surely in the running on all those counts -- as well as being strategically places on one of the main routes into Baltimore.

 I'm talking about the lunar crater in the pavement just past the "end state maintenance" sign as Interstate 395 turns into Howard Street. In general the road is pitted and cracked between the sign and Conway Street but this particular pothole is one you'd better slow down for or you could be looking at a hefty repair bill. It's just to the west side of the Federal Reserve building.

There really is a dramatic contrast between the condition of the concrete pavement of I-395, which is maintained by the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the asphalt maintained by the city Department of Transportation. The authority's pavement looks pretty good -- with the exception of one growing crater in the right lane of the uphill slope of the ramp ascending to I-395. But the city's part of that road is in disgraceful shape -- with a big crack dividing the lanes instead of paint.

Hey, folks, I know this stretch of road doesn't get the 311 calls because it's not a residential area. But this is the southern gateway to the city and it's no way to make a first impression. Or is this the Rawlings-Blake administration's way of sending a message about the drastic cuts in state highway funds in recent years?

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:06 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 15, 2011

Phoenix Road Bridge partially reopens

The Phoenix Road Bridge over Gunpowder Falls and the NCR Trail has been reopened in the westbound direction only, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation announced.

The city which closed the bridge last November for repairs. said eastbound traffic will continue to be detoured until an alternating one-way traffic signal can be installed. Though the bridge is in Baltimore County, it is owned and maintained by the city.

Eastbound traffic will continue to be detoured onto York, Sparks and Carroll roads.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Traffic's a mess at Northern and Falls

Getting There just got a call from the Greater Baltimore Medical Center's Michael Schwartzberg, who's getting nowhere in traffic at Northern Parkway and Falls Road. He said he's moved about 200 feet in a half-hour because of roadwork.

UPDATE: Schwartzberg finally made it back to GBMC 37 minutes after being stopped for the roadwork, which turned out to be at Northern Parkway and Roland. He said a Mapquest estimate of the time it should have taken to cover that distance was 2 minutes (which seems a little optimistic about red lights).

Schwartzberg, who's traveling eastbound toward Charles Street to  get back to the hospital, understands that road work happens. He's seen flowing water in the street and suspects the problem is one of Baltimore's periodic water main breaks. What has him frustrated is the lack of signage placed at a point where drivers can still choose another route, such as Interstate 83.

"Just put your signage prior to the intersection so (drivers) have options," he said.

That doesn't sound like too much to ask. When Getting There contacted the city Transportation Department, headquarters had no clue to what's happening up north. We hope to get some word soon.

UPDATTE: Schwartzberg  reports he finally made it to GBMC 37 minutes after running into the backup for roadwork, which turned out to be at Northern and Roland Avenue. He said a Mapquest estimate showed the  trip from that point should have taken two minutes. That seems a little optimistic about traffic signals, but still -- that's a half-hour out of hundreds of drivers' lives.

UPDATE: According to Transportation Department spokeswoman Kathy Chopper, the water Schwartzberg saw was runoff from a wooded area. A crew was doing utility work at Northern and Roland.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 14, 2011

House panel dispatches some real 'turkeys'

One of the most important jobs of a legislative committee is to quickly weed out the multitude of muddle-headed bills that lawmakers introduce. By that standard, the House Environmental Matters Committee did some fine work last week killing off some of the "turkeys" proposed for changes to state traffic law.

Gone is the bill that would limit the use of work zone speed cameras to times when crews are present in the zone -- a measure that overlooked the increased hazards caused by closed shoulders, lane shifts and the presence of construction equipment. Gone is a goofy bill -- inspired by lobbyist Bruce Bereano -- that would have sealed court records of speed camera violations.

Also dead is a bill lowering  Maryland's already lenient fine for speeding violations caught by cameras from $40 to $30. The committee also killed a bill requiring wordy signage at work zones monitored  by cameras to warn drivers of what they should already know -- that the work zones are in effect 24/7.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:05 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 10, 2011

Northbound JFX reopened after flooding

Two of the three northbound lanes of the Jones Falls Expressway have been reopened south of North Avenue, Baltimore Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said at 6:25. p.m.  The southern end of the highway had been closed down to Fayette Street  for about a half hour because  of flooding near Penn Station.

 According to Kurt Kocher, spokesman for the Department of Public Works, heavy rains flooded the parking garage below the station, and some of the water flowed into the roadway.

The State Highway Administration is reporting a handful of closings of roads around the state because of  high water. They include Route 450 in Anne Arundel County between Huntwood and St. Stephen's Church Road, where all lanes were closed in both directions as  of 6:20 p.m.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

City warns of signal outages, flooding

The Baltimore Department of Transportation urged drivers in the city to be cautious today, warning that today's storms could bring flooded roadways and malfunctioning traffic signals.

The city said heavy rains could cause low-lying areas to flood and warned motorists against trying to drive through standing water. The department also asked drivers to be alert for malfunctioning signals, reminding them to treat intersections with signal outages as if there were a 4-way stop sign present.

According to the department, city residents can report outages and flooding by calling 311.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 9, 2011

Hearing reveals clashing views on ignition interlock

Proponents of various approaches to drunk driving clashed vigorously today over the circumstances under which a convicted drunk driver should be required to install ignition interlock devices to prevent a vehicle from being started if the driver has been drinking alcohol.

Del. Benjamin Kramer, sponsor of the bill favored by most anti-drunk driving advocates, denounced a rival bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Vallario as one that fails to make any use of ignition interlock mandatory.

With Vallario presiding, Kramer told the committee the chairman's bill is "not going to change anything that we're doing right now." He said Vallario's bill, which focuses on so-called "super-drunk" drivers who test with a blood-alcohol content over .15 percent doesn't even make the devices manadatory for those drivers.

The bill introduced by Kramer would make use of ignition interlock mandatory for all drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence -- which is defined in law as having a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or greater.

Vallario did not testify on behalf of his own bill but briefly said that if he didn't introduce it, there would have been no opportunity to argue against the idea of a threshhold of .15.

Continue reading "Hearing reveals clashing views on ignition interlock" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:34 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Curbs on drunk test refusal urged

The House Judiciary Committee is now hearing a bill that would clamp down on a driver's refusal to take a breath test for drunk driving.

The bill, sponsored by Del. C. T. Wilson, would create criminal sanctions for persons who refuse a test if they have already refused in a previous case. Prosecutors are supporting the bill.

But they're running into flak from Del. Luiz R. S. Simmons, who is contending the bill would infringe on civil liberties.

One of the witnesses, Kurt Gregory Erickson of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, just testified that Maryland is in the top 10 in test refusal. 

It's a strong bill but not likely to emerge from this committee which is anything but prosecutor-friendly. We'll see, though.  

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 8, 2011

Baltimore once more rates high in congestion

Once again, a national survey of traffic congestion shows that Baltimore is punching above its weight class when it comes to traffic congestion.

A study by INRIX, a company that provides traffic data to GPS services, found that Baltimore ranks 14th in congestion among U.S. metropolitan areas even through it is only 20th in population.

Baltimore's ranking on the INRIX survey has been moving up each year since 2006, when it came in 21st. Last year it came in 15th.

Washington's congestion also ranked higher than its size. The 8th most populous metro area in the country scored 4th in congestion -- behind Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

In January, the Texas Transportation Institute ranked Baltimore 5th in congestion during peak travel times and Washington 2nd.

The high scores for congestion in Baltimore reflect in part the relatively robust economy in the region. In comparison, hard-pressed metropolitan Detroit ranks 11th in population but only 22nd in congestion.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Beverage group bungles message on interlocks

There is a legitimate controversy about whether to require ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of first-time drunk-driving offenders, and the alcoholic beverage industry has every right to weigh in. But this most recent communication just shows how obtuse the booze industry can be about this deadly problem.

See if you can spot what's outrageously wrong about this communication:

 Hi Michael,

Today and tomorrow, bills (H.B. 360, H.B. 1012, S.B. 803) that would require all drunk driving offenders in Maryland - even first time offenders with low blood alcohol levels - to get an ignition interlock (in-car breathalyzer) will be heard in the Maryland General Assembly.

Continue reading "Beverage group bungles message on interlocks" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:07 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Survey shows epidemic of school bus passing

More than 7,000 drivers in Maryland were observed passing stopped school buses illegally -- one of the most serious traffic offenses in state law -- during a single-day survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Education.

The figures, gathered from all 24 of the state's jurisdictions, are being used to support an effort by state and local educators to win passage of a bill in the General Assembly to allow the use of cameras mounted on the outside of school  buses to  enforce the law against passing when the vehicles have their red lights flashing and stop arm deployed.

The survey of 4,712 school bus drivers statewide found the violation to be especially prevalent in Maryland's urban regions and inner  suburbs. Baltimore County earned the dubious distinction of being No. with 1,101 violations reported by 457 bus drivers on one day in February.

The survey found the that is law is being widely observed in many of Maryland's more rural counties. For instance, both Allegany County and Queen Anne's County had 130 bus drivers on the lookout but not a single violation, according to the state education department.

 

Continue reading "Survey shows epidemic of school bus passing" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:36 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 7, 2011

MADD not impressed by Vallario drunk-driving bill

A bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Vallario to deal with the issue of installing ignition interlock devices on the vehicles owned by convicted drunk drivers is being dismissed by MADD Maryland as accomplishing nothing that doesn't exist under current law.

"Twelve pages of nothing," MADD Maryland executive director Caroline Cash calls it.

The bill, which had 30 co-sponsors from both parties, is one of several that have been introduced during the current General Assembly session on the topic of ignition interlock technology, which prevents a motorist from starting a car after consuming alcohol.

Continue reading "MADD not impressed by Vallario drunk-driving bill" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Speed cameras proposed for Howard County

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will ask the County Council to adopt legislation allowing the use of mobile cameras to enforce speed limits in school zones.

Ulman, along with Police Chief William McMahon and Councilwoman Courtney Watson, will hold a news conference Tuesday to outline his plans.

According to the Howard County Police Department, introduction of the legislation follows a year-long study by police of speeding in school zones.

If the Council approves, Howard would join Montgomery, Baltimore and Prince George's counties, as well as Baltimore city, in authorizing speed cameras under a 2009 state law giving local jurisdictions the option of using them in school zones. Under  that  law, drivers can be fined $40 if a camera detects them going 12 mph or more above  the  speed limit near a school.

The news conference will take place at Ilchester Elementary School. Acting Superintendent Mamie Perkins and members of the school board are expected to take part.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 4, 2011

Tolls take effect Monday on the ICC

The free ride on the Intercounty Connector is about to end.

Starting Monday at 12:01 a..m., the Maryland Transportation Authority will begin collecting tolls on the section of the ICC that opened two weeks ago. Since the opening of the stretch between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 370, the state has waived tolls as part of a "test drive" period.

The authority said more than 273,000 trips have been taken on that segment since  it opened Feb. 23.

The toll for that section will be $1.45 during peak weekday periods periods, 60 cents overnight and $1.10 at all times in between.  Since there are no tollbooths on the ICC, he charges  will be collected using E-ZPass or by taking a picture of the driver's license plate and mailing a bill.

Drivers without E-ZPasses wiill have until April 6 before they begin receiving a bill for a $3 service fee along with that toll. For those who don't have E-ZPasses, the state is keeping its E-ZPass outlets at the Gaithersburg and Beltsville Motor Vehicle Administration offices open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through April 2. Drivers can also obtain them through the E-ZPass web site.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:52 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 3, 2011

I-695 outer loop at Charles Street temporary closure

The State Highway Administration will temporarily close all lanes of the outer loop of the Beltway (I-695) at Charles Street tonight.

Starting at 9 p.m., one lane will close. Then at 10 p.m., two lanes will close. By midnight, all lanes will be closed and traffic will be detoured through the Charles Street/Bellona Avenue roundabout and back onto the outer loop I-695.

In addition to the temporary outer loop I-695 closure, the right ramp from northbound Charles Street to the outer loop will be closed at midnight. All lanes will reopen by 5 a.m.

The closures are necessary for the continued work on the replacement of the Charles Street Bridge. SHA urges motorists who plan to travel along northbound Charles Street to reach the outer loop to alternatively use Kenilworth Avenue to West Road to the York Road/Baltimore Beltway interchange.

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 2:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Text-messaging bill passes House

The House of Delegates passed a bill Wednesday morning closing a loophole in the state's ban on text-messaging while driving that allowed motorists to read incoming messages while behind the wheel.

The bill also specifies that texting is prohibited as long as the vehicle is in the travel lanes of the road, including when stopped for traffic signals. The preliminary tally was 116-22.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where a companion measure has received preliminary approval after attempts to amend it were rejected.

 A similar bill was approved by both houses last year only to fail when the House and Senate couldn't agree on amendments before the session ended.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:07 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 2, 2011

Bill seeks to ease license requirements for adults

Since 1998, in an effort to improve teen safety, Maryland has imposed an escalating series of requirements on new drivers before they can obtain a license. The catch is that in doing so, lawmakers have required adult drivers to jump through the same set of hoops as teens – often at the cost of thousands of dollars.

The result, according to supporters of a bill that would ease up on new adult drivers, is that many lower-income workers have found their path to better employment blocked.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County and Sen. Victor Ramirez of Prince Georges County, comes up for a hearing Tuesday. A House version will be heard later this month. Getting There would  like to hear from adults who have been effected  by the extra licensing requirements for adults.

Continue reading "Bill seeks to ease license requirements for adults" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:48 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: On the roads
        

Maryland traffic rose 3.8% in December 2010

Travel on Maryland highways increased by 3.8 percent in December 2010, far outstripping the national average.

Maryland's gain in vehicle miles last year followed a 4.2 percent drop in December 2009, according to figures released by the Federal Highway Administration. Nationally, vehicle travel on all U.S. roads increased  by 0.6 percent in December 2010 to 243 billion vehicle-mile.

For the full year, the nation fell just short of the 3-trillion vehicle-mile mark, a small improvement on its 2009 total but not a return to the pre-recession years of 2006-2007.

The higher travel figures convey both good and  bad news. On the one hand, the increase is a sign of an improving economy. On the other, more travel usually adds up to more congestion and more  traffic crashes.  A sluggish economy is considered one the main reasons for a decline in traffic deaths over the past two years.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

March 1, 2011

It's gas tax day in Annapolis

It looks as if today is going to be a big day in the effort to get some new revenues flowing into transportation in Maryland.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett are expected to testify before the House Ways & Means Committee in support of the combination of a gas tax increase and a constitutional amendment protecting the Transportation Trust Fund from raids to balance the general fund.

Meanwhile, the trucking industry and other opponents of any increase in gas taxes or registration fees will hold a demonstration against the proposals.

AAA Mid-Atlantic will be among the groups showing up to testify in favor of House Bill 1001, which would both raise the gas tax by 10 cents and build a firewall around the trust fund.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:57 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 25, 2011

State ready to piggyback on pothole request

Getting There's search for the state's worst potholes has drawn the attention of the State Highway Administration, which stands ready to fill in cavities on the roads it maintains.

SHA spokesman Dave Buck said the agency would like to know about any potholes Marylanders spot on numbered routes outside Baltimore city. The city maintains all roads -- except for Interstates 95, 395  and 895 -- within its borders. The  counties, generally, maintain roads with names but no numerical routes. (Something like First Street doesn't count as a  numerical route.)

Here's the SHA message:

We'll be keeping an eye out for any responses to your "worst pothole" request on your blog and will forward immediately to our maintenance folks.  If on an SHA maintained road (numbered routes statewide not including Baltimore City), people can always go onto our website at www.roads.maryland.gov and there is a link at the bottom for pothole requests.

There's no reason you can't let us both know about your "favorite" pothole. Send pictures.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:33 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 24, 2011

Where are worst potholes? Nominations are open

Maryland's worst pot holesAfter several years during which the state has withheld the local jurisdictions' share of highway revenues, Maryland's local roads are sprouting a bumper crop of potholes. As we come to the end of winter, there must be some real craters out there.

We're asking Getting There readers to help us locate some of the biggest, deepest and most treacherously placed potholes in the state. Please nominate the most impressive potholes you have come across, with precise locations and photos if available. Lurid descriptions and tall tales encouraged.

To nominate candidates for "Maryland's Worst Pothole," click on the following link.

Baltimore Sun Photo

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 22, 2011

Push on to require seat belts for all in vehicles

All vehicle occupants, including adults in the rear seats, would be required to wear selt belts under a bill that received a hearing today before a House of Delegates committee.

If the measure passes, Maryland would join 35 other states that issue tickets if any passenger in a vehicle is found to be unbelted, advocates said. Maryland now requires rear seat belts only for riders under 16 years old.

Maryland currently requires front seat occupants to wear seat belts, but advocates for the bill testified that rear seat passengers also faced elevated risks if they aren't wearing restraints when a vehicle is in a collision.

 

Continue reading "Push on to require seat belts for all in vehicles" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Full speed ahead on ICC opening

With Monday night's snowstorm behind us and a bright sun drying out the pavement, the state plans to go forward as planned with the opening of the first section of the Intercounty Connector early Wednesday morning.

 Dave Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said the leg of the ICC between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 370 will open by 6 a.m. He said engineers will not wait for a specified time but will open the lanes to traffic as soon as they can in the morning -- probably between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Earlier plans to open the road Tuesday morning were postponed because of the snow.

 Buck said the SHA wants to prevent the backups onto Norbeck Road and Georgia Avenue that would be likely if motorists were held in line until a set time.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:58 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Main roads looking clear, but pavement's slippery

Maryland's main roadways are largely clear or being cleared after an overnight snowfall that came in short of expectations, but drivers still need to look out for wet and slippery road conditions, according to the State Highway Administration.

State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen urged commuters to delay leaving their homes this morning to give road crews a little more time to get the pavement clear.

"It takes our drivers up to one and one half hours to complete a snow route and longer when a salt refill is needed,” said Pedersen.  “If you travel the road where a plow has just passed, you will experience near bare pavement conditions.  If you are traveling at the start of the route before the next lap, you will encounter much more difficult traveling.  We ask people to delay travel this morning if possible to allow our crews to continue their operations.”

Charlie Gischlar, an SHA spokesman, said conditions were looking good on the beltways and on Interstate. But he said a crash involving a truck on southbound Interstate 97 at Route 100 had closed two laneds and may make it advisable for motorists to use Ritchie Highway this morning.

 

 

Continue reading "Main roads looking clear, but pavement's slippery" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 21, 2011

Drivers urged to stay off the roads tonight

With 5-8 inches of snow expected to fall on the Baltimore area tonight, Maryland's state highway chief is urging motorists to stay off the roads until snow plow operators have had time to do their work.

“If you have a choice not to travel tonight, please don’t,” said State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “Our crews will work throughout the night, but depending on when it stops snowing, all routes may not be completely cleared by morning rush hour.  Please check conditions before driving in the morning and allow extra travel time.”

Dave Buck, an SHA spokesman, said highway officials hope to see most drivers off the roads in central Maryland by 8-9 p.m. He said the storm is expected to start with sleet and freezing rain but quickly convert to snow.

Buck said the storm is expected to pass through the area by about 7 a.m.  He said that the amount of snow in the forecasts has been increasing and could exceed 8 inches in Western Maryland and along the Pennsylvania border.

According to the SHA, crews were not able to pre-treat roads because the rain Monday would  have washed away the chemicals used to inhibit icing. The agency urged motorists to check road  conditions using the state's CHART system at the SHA web site.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

ICC opening delayed by a day

Marylanders who have been waiting decades to drive on the Intercounty Connector will have to wait one more day.

The opening of the just-completed western section of the ICC, which had been scheduled for Tuesday at 6 a.m., was pushed back to the same hour Wednesday because of predictions of overnight snow.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Gov. Martin O"Malley and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continued Monday morning as planned despite a pouring rain. Among those invited was former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who led the fight to build the ICC before his defeat by O'Malley in 2006.

Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said a decision will be made Tuesday whether to proceed with the Wednesday opening as planned after a snowstorm passed through the region overnight. The Washington area received only about an inch of snow, but Gischlar said officials want to make sure the pavement isn't too wet.

Harold  Bartlett, acting executive secretary of the Maryland  Transportation Authority, said the opening was delayed for "safety and logistical reasons." He said some of  the final work preceding the opening cannot be performed under icy or wet  conditions.

The first section of the ICC to open will be the stretch between Georgia Avenue (Route 97) and Interstate 370 in Montgomery County. The section between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 is scheduled to open in about a year.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 18, 2011

Part of Route 100 closed by fire

This came in from the State Highway Administration shortly after 4 p.m.:

To secure the safety of motorists, Maryland State Highway Administration has closed the two right lanes along westbound MD 100 between I-97 and Baltimore and Annapolis Boulevard, as well as the ramps from I-97 to westbound MD 100.  Motorists are urged to avoid MD 100 in this area and consider alternate routes.  If traveling in the area, motorists can expect significant delays.  For up to date travel information, visit www.chart.maryland.gov and click on incident reports.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 8, 2011

SHA offers limits on work zone speed cameras

The State Highway Administration is moving to address some of the concerns about its use of speed cameras in work zones without dropping its opposition to proposals to limit their use to times when workers are present.

Last week, SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen testified against a bill offered by Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore  County Democrat, that would write such a limit into the law  authorizing the use of  speed cameras.

But Pedersen also wrote a letter to Brochin outlining changes to the agency's speed camera program to address some oof the issues raised by proponents of the bill.

 

Continue reading "SHA offers limits on work zone speed cameras" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 7, 2011

First phase of ICC to open Feb. 22

The first phase of the long-awaited and long-fought-over Intercounty Connector will open Feb. 22, Gov.  Martin O'Malley announced today.

Drivers will get their first chance to use part of the $2.6 billion toll road that day a 6 a.m. when the state opens the 5.5-mile segment between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue. O'Malley said the highway will be toll-free for the first 13 days it is open -- through March  6.

The section's completion has been delayed by weather conditions in recent months. Today's announcement indicates the state is reasonably confident  it can meet the target date, but it still comes with the caveat of "weather permitting."

The second phase of the ICC -- between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 -- is expected to open about a year from now. The highway was the subject of decades of contention between environmentalists and highway supporters before winning federal approval under the administration of former Gov.  Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The ICC is expected to eventually extend to U.S. 1, but that part of the project has been deferred indefinitely.

Continue reading "First phase of ICC to open Feb. 22" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:28 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 2, 2011

City's snow emergency lifted

It might seem like an afterthought about a week after the snow fell, but Baltimore has lifted its snow emergency at last. That doesn't mean there aren't some neighborhood streets that haven't seen a plow, but primary and secondary roads are largely passable.

 Here's the city announcement:

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation advises that Phase I of the Baltimore City Snow Plan has been lifted.


Please be advised that motorists should proceed with extreme caution while driving, as slippery conditions may still exist.   Please remember if you approach a traffic signal that is not working or on flash, please be sure to stop at the intersection and treat it as a four-way stop.


Residents are reminded to call 3-1-1 for any non-emergency requests.

That last advice is well worth taking despite the unnecessary hyphens. City officials do use 311 calls as a way of setting priorities for customer service responses. So the best strategy if your street is still choked with snow and ice is to call 311 and to get your neighbors to do likewise. Once that's done, give city workers a reasonable time to respond. If they don't please let Getting There know.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

February 1, 2011

Report: City's bad roads cost $2,226 per driver

Congested and deteriorated roads are costing the typical Baltimore driver $2,226 a year in maintenance, wasted fuel and time and safety-related charges, according to a study released today by a national transportation advocacy group.

TRIP, the Washington-based advocate for  infrastructure investments said bad roads are costing Maryland drivers an estimated $7 billion a year.

The group's message is that the United States, and Maryland in particular, need to step up their infrastructure investments to meet the travel demands of a growing population. The group is calling on Congress to take prompt action on a new six-year  federal transportation reauthorization bill before the current program expires March 4.

 

 

Continue reading "Report: City's bad roads cost $2,226 per driver" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:42 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Morning commute turns out routine

Fears that Marylanders would wake up to solid ice sheets on the road appear not to have materialized this morning, yielding a rush hours that was if anything a bit light on traffic.

The State Highway Administration's CHART system showed no unusual level of crashes this morning. After a thorough scraping of ice off the car, commute north from the Elkridge-Ellicott City area was smoother than usual on roads that were merely wet.

The SHA's Charliie Gischlar confirmed that observation, saying traffic congestion was less than normal as many schools were off and many commuters apparently stayed home or delayed going to work.

Continue reading "Morning commute turns out routine" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 31, 2011

How does your road look after the snow?

One would think that after dealing with three snowstorms of more than 20 inches each last winter, the measly 6-12 that fell on Maryland last week would be a breeze for local road authorities. But Getting There is hearing some buzz that there are still roads in the region where snow plows have yet to make an impression.

Please let us know about  the  state of  the streets in your neighborhood. Have the plows been through at all? Were the roads cleared but a hard pack left behind on the road surface? Are  you looking at bare pavement? We might want to follow up with an interview, so if you'd like to talk, send contact information to michael.dresser@baltsun.com.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:07 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 28, 2011

Woman killed in 2nd Arundel hit-and-run in 24 hours

A Glen Burnie woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver Thursday night in the second such fatality in Anne Arundel County within 24 hours, according to police.

Meanwhile, police reported that the vehicle involved in the earlier death had been located and that a person was in custody.

Continue reading "Woman killed in 2nd Arundel hit-and-run in 24 hours" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

City's snow emergency still in effect

The Baltimore Department of Transportation has put out the word that its first-phase snow emergency plan remains in effect even though many of the city's main routes were cleared this morning.

The city reminded drivers that vehicles traveling on city roadways have to be equipped with chains, snow tires or all-weather radials. It said many streets remain slippery and urged drivers to show caution and to avoid following other vehicles too closely.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 27, 2011

Where the worst backups were

The State Highway Administration has released a short list of the worst of the worst backups that bedeviled drivers Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. The list does not include the Jones Falls Expressway in Baltimore, one of the most severely affected roads, because it is maintained by the city Department of Transportation.

Prudent motorists will file these locations away mentally because the same characteristics that turned them into parking lots could crop up again in a future snowstorm. In particular, drivers should be wary about getting on the JFX any time it's rush hour and there's snow in the forecast. You have a windy road that is one long bridge, with no shoulders for emergency vehicles to get through in some place -- and it's uphill from President Street to Baltimore County.

Drivers should also be aware that Interstate 70 at Route 27 in Mt. Airy seems to be the place for tractor-trailers to go to crash. And the hill at Braddock Heights isn't going to get any less steep.

Here's the list:

• I-695 between Reisterstown Road and Loch Raven Boulevard and I-83 between Padonia and Ruxton roads (creating residual delays and closures along I-83 in Baltimore City (JFX)). SHA worked together with Maryland State Police to tow a total of 46 disabled passenger vehicles and seven tractor trailers.

Continue reading "Where the worst backups were" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:27 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: On the roads
        

Pedestrian killed along snowy highway in hit-run

The snowstorm contributed to at least one fatality overnight as a 77-year-old man walking along an Anne Arundel County road was struck and killed by an apparent hit-and-run driver.

Richard Francis Oles of Pasadena was killed about 2:36 a.m. Thursday when he was struck as he was walking along Mountain Road near the Brumwell's Flea Market, Anne Arundel County police said.

According to police, Oles was walking in the roadway because plowed snow prevented him from using the sidewalk or the shoulder. He was taken to Baltimore-Washington Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m.

Police are seeking a vehicle described as possible a red Ford 350 pickup truck with a snow plow. The vehicle, which did not remain at the scene, was last seen traveling east on Mountain Road, police said.

The investigation is still under way. Police asked anyone with information about the crash to call 410-222-8573 0r 410-222-8610.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

SHA reports 'dramatic improvement' on roads

The State Highway Admoinistration is reporting much better conditions on state roads compared with those in the early morning hours, when it was still clearing up serious backups in the worst-hit areas of the state.

"it's a dramatic improvement on six hours ago," said SHA spokeswoman Lora Rakowski in an interview about 9 a.m. at the SHA's emergency operations center in Hanover.

Rakowski said many abandoned vehicles remain along state highways, with dozens in the area around the Beltway and Reisterstown Road -- the scene of one of the worst backups that affected Wednesday night's homeard commute.

Rakowski said some of the worst trouble spots overnight -- in addition to the Beltway at Reisterstown -- were along Interstate 70 at Route 180 in the Myersville area of Frederick County, along Interstate 270, Interstate 83 in Hereford and the American Legion Bridge on the Potomac River.

The spokeswoman said some of the toughest digging is occurring in the northern tier counties of Carroll, Baltimore, Harford  and Cecil where the accunulations of snow were greatest. She said thatin some cases the snow is too deep to plow and will have to be hauled out by front-end loader.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

View from SHA operations center looks good

At the State Highway Administration Emergency Operations Center in Hanover, where I'm sitting now, one can view video feeds of traffic conditions around the state. For the most part, conditions are looking remarkably good considering the ferocity of Wednesday night's snowstorm.

Traffic appears to be light in most parts of the Baltimore-Washington area, and the main roadways are largely cleared to the pavement. But ice, slush and hard-packed snow can be seen on the ramps in places such as Interstate 83 at Shawan Road.

Traffic appears unusually light for this time in the morning on the Baltimore and Capital beltways, as well as on Interstate 95 between Baltimore and Washington.

One potential problem, however, is that many drivers are ramping back up to full speed long before conditions warrant. That includes many tractor-trailers along Interstate 83,, where conditions remain treacherous.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Highways chief warns roads remain dangerous

Conditions on the state's highways remain "very dangerous" as abandoned cars and power outages continue to hamper cleanup operations, State Highway Administration Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said Thursday morning as Maryland commuters took to the roads.

             In a 7 a.m. interview at the agency's emergency operations center in Hanover, Pedersen said lanes were open on most highways and he predicted conditions would improve as the sun comes out and temperatures warm to about 40 degrees. But he warned that in many cases merge lanes have not been plowed and that interchanges remain treacherous.
             

Continue reading "Highways chief warns roads remain dangerous" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

SHA: 'Domino effect' delayed the plows

A combination of fast-falling snow, unexpected accumulation rush hour traffic, multiple collisions, vehicles that couldn't get up hill, jack-knifed tractor-trailers and fallen trees and power lines impeded snow plows Wednesday night and turned an evening's commute into a nightmare for drivers across the region, according to the State Highway Administration.

Dave Buck, an SHA spokesman, said every piece of equipment the state owns or has under contract was deployed -- though many motorists were left wondering whether the agency had taken the night off. In many cases, he said, plow crews were pulled from their usual routes to deal with emergencies. In many cases, he said, downed trees had to be removed before plows could get through -- and it was the snow plow operators who had to take out chain saws to do the work.

 The snowfall of 10-14 inches was roughly double the forecasts issued earlier Wednesday -- and it came down with a vengeance. In a midnight interview, Buck said the heavy snow was falling at a rate of 2 inches an hours and that the plows just could not keep up.

"It was like a domino effect," he said.

 

Continue reading "SHA: 'Domino effect' delayed the plows" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:18 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 26, 2011

Snow holding off for now in central Maryland

At the State Highway Administration's operations center in Hanover,where there's a good view of traffic conditions around the state through the agency's network of road cameras, traffic appeaqrs to be moving normally on wet but not snowy highways in most of Maryland.

The exception, as usual, is Western Maryland. Near-whiteout conditionsappear to be prevailing at Cumberland and at the interchange of Interstate 68 and Route 219.

Traffic is backed up in some areas, but it appears to be typical rush hour congestion.

Any minute now, Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to give a briefing on the state's snow preparations.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:15 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 19, 2011

Pedestrian deaths largely flat in U.S., Maryland

The number of pedestrian deaths in Maryland decreased slightly over the first months of 2010 -- but not by enough to stand out as an identifiable trend. The state continued to rank among the most dangerous for pedestrians -- with one of the highest rates of such fatalities in the country.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were 50 pedestrian fatalities in Maryland between January and June last year compared with 54 in the same period of 2009.

The small change reflected a national trend that showed pedestrian deaths almost unchanged despite a strong decline in traffic deaths overall. Nationally, there were 1,891 pedestrian fatalities ion the first six months of 2010 -- seven more than in the first half of 2009 for a statistically insignificant 0.4 percent increase. Overall fatalities are estimated by the federal government to have dropped 8 percent during that period.

Maryland was one of only  four jurisdictions where pedestrians made up more than 20 percent of the total traffic deaths, the association reported.  The others were the District of Columbia, New York and New Jersey. Nationally, 12 percent of those killed on the roads were pedestrians.

Continue reading "Pedestrian deaths largely flat in U.S., Maryland" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Shuttle service from BWI to serve Western Md.

A Salisbury-basee shuttle service that now serves the Eastern Shore from BWI Marshal Airport and other transportation hubs has expanded its service to Western Maryland, the company has announced.

Bayrunner Shuttle is now providing round-trip van rides serving Frederick, Hagerstown, Hancock, Cumberland, Frostburg and Grantsville from BWI airport and train station as well as the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Baltimore. The service is financed with the help of a Federal Transit  Administration grant.

Continue reading "Shuttle service from BWI to serve Western Md." »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:12 PM | | Comments (3)
        

January 18, 2011

ICC project chief named a 'top news-maker'

The Engineering News-Record, a top publication in infrastructure circles, has named the 37-year-old head of Maryland's Intercounty Connector project as one of its top 25 news-makers of 2010.

Melinda Peters, the State Highway Administration's ICC project director, was selected for her roles as construction boss and the public face of the project.

In an article about her selection, the ENR said Peters "finds herself continually in the spotlight as the human face of the largest, greenest and most controversial highway to be built in metropolitan Washington, D.C., in decades."

The first 7.2 mile leg of the $2.6 billion ICC is expected to open early this year. The main segment of the highway, which will connect Interstate 370 and Interstate 95, is scheduled to open about a year later.

Sun photo/Jed Kirschbaum

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

One lane of eastbound I-70 reopens after crash

One lane of eastbound Interstate 70 has  reopened but the other two are expected to remain closed until early afternoon near Mt. Airy  hours after a tractor-trailer carrying embalming fluid and other chemicals turned over on the icy highway.

Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said the1999 International tractor, which was pulling two trailers, ran off the right side of the eastbound roadway just east of Route 27 in Carroll County and jack-knifed. He said that after the crash, a pickup truck ran into one of the trailers.

Shipley said the truck driver,  59-year-old Lanny W. Denver of Dundalk, was transported to Howard County General Hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries. 

Continue reading "One lane of eastbound I-70 reopens after crash" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 16, 2011

Gas prices level off in Maryland

Gas priced leveled off in Maryland last week as the cost for a gallon of unleaded held steady at $3.09 -- high by historical standards but still more than $1 below the 2008 record, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Nationally, the price crept up from $3.09 to $3.10. Crude oil closed at $91.43 Friday.

AAA remains pessimistic about the near-term prospects at the pump, saying that it is not a  question of if, but when, crude oil prices will top $100 a barrel.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:38 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 13, 2011

Route 100 gets darker as part of pilot project

If you drive regularly along Route 100 in Howard County, you might just notice the lighting along the road is a little dimmer than it used to be.

The State Highway Administration says it had cut back its overhead lighting on a 6-mile stretch of the road between Coca-Cola Drive near the Anne Arundel County line and the western terminus of the limited-access highway at U.S. 29. According to the agency, about 75 lights have been "deactivated" as part of a pilot project to evaluate whether the state will be able to cut the amount of power its uses to illuminate state roads without compromising safety.

For now, the light poles remain in place. But if the test is successful, the SHA may remove them and recycle them in other locations. The primary aim, said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar, is to reduce energy consumption as a "green" initiative. But he said any cutback in energy use could also yield savings in operating costs.

Continue reading "Route 100 gets darker as part of pilot project" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:49 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: On the roads
        

Crosswalk violations call for strategic plan

Jen Gaffney of Baltimore raises what has become a perennial issue in Baltimore -- one that the city needs to address with a comprehensive strategy rather than a Band-Aid. It's  the penchant of local drivers to tune out the existence of pedestrian crosswalks. For a past column, I observed the behavior of Baltimore drivers around a well-marked pedestrian crosswalk. What I found is that any pedestrian who relies on a crosswalk to assure the right-of-way better have paid-up life insurance.

Here's Gaffney's account:


I work in Harbor East, and along with many other people, I park in the Little
Italy parking garage on Exeter Street. Each morning and evening, we have to
cross Eastern Ave at Exeter, where there are lines in the intersection which
indicate a pedestrian crosswalk. There is no stop light at this intersection,
which means no pedestrian lights. However, motorists do not stop for pedestrians here, and actually it seems like they speed up when they see someone trying to
cross the street.

Continue reading "Crosswalk violations call for strategic plan" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:37 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 12, 2011

SHA names new Baltimore-Harford engineer

The State Highway Administration has named 14-year agency veteran David Peake as its district engineer for Baltimore and Harford counties, replacing the recently retired Dave Malkowski.

As engineer for SHA District 4, Peake will be responsible for maintenance, design, construction and  emergency response along all non-toll state routes in the two counties. The University of Maryland College Park graduate had until recently been deputy director for operations in the SHA's construction office.

Malkowski had been with the SHA for 34 years before his retirement.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:56 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 11, 2011

State roads get pass for evening peak

Dire predictions that central Maryland could be  socked with a snowstorm at the peak of the  evening rush hour don't seem to be materializing. A survey of state traffic cameras around the state show no signs of anything more serious than flurries except in the mountain of Western Maryland, and even there we're seeing only a modest accumulation.

Traffic appears to be moving briskly in most of the places surveyed -- including locations in the Baltimore and Washington regions, on the Eastern Shore and in Frederick County. Only the troublesome Thomas Johnson Bridge in Southern Maryland was backed up, and that did not appear too have anything to do with snow.

Of course, the predicted storm could  still bedevil overnight travelers and cause problems that linger into the morning peak travel time, but conditions now hardly seem to justify panic runs to the grocery store.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Street closings coming for MLK Day Parade

Baltimore will be closing parts of Martin Luther King Boulevard and its cross streets Monday for the annual King holiday parade, the city has announced.

The parade starts at noon, but some of the closings take place as early as 9:30 a.m.  The city listed the following closings:

 

 

Continue reading "Street closings coming for MLK Day Parade" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

Where's CHART on SHA web site?

Periodic redesigns of government web sites are a good thing. You don't want to let them get stale. But sometimes the quest for a new look leaves it difficult to find basic services.

That's what happened when  the State Highway Administration revamped its web site in a way that makes its useful CHART system -- which tracks current conditions on main Maryland roads -- difficult to find.

Don't believe it? Go to the SHA web site and see whether you can find a link to the service that offers live camera shots, frequently updated incident reports and real-time measures of how traffic is flowing. Oh, there's a way. You can pull down the  tab that says  "Commuter & Travel" and go down to "Live Traffic" and you'll end up  at the CHART opening page. But after all the work SHA has done to build up a brand identity for CHART, why is the name suddenly banished from its web page?

Somehow I have  to believe that was not the intent.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

SHA gears up for likely snow

The State Highway Administration is standing by for snow-plowing operations as a storm heads up the coast from the south, expecting nothing out of the ordinary on a January day.

SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar, deployed to the agency's operations center in Hanover, said crews are "ready to roll" at the first sign of accumulation. As of about noon, the only sign of snow was flurries in Southern Maryland and parts of the Eastern Shore, but 1-3 inches have been predicted for Central Maryland, he said.

"We pretreated yesterday  and finished up this morning and now the waiting game begins," he said.

Gischlar said most of the pretreating had been done with salt brine. But in Frederick and Howard counties, he said, the agency uses a mixture of brine and sugar beet molasses that's "less corrosive." He said that by the end of this winter, the agency will expand the mixture's use to suburban Washington and Southern Maryland.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

U.S. gives Baltimore County grant for traffic safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Baltimore County Police Department a $415,000 grant to bolster its traffic enforcement efforts -- especially those involving heavy trucks.

Among other things, the grant money will be used to buy 200 electronic ticketing machines  for police cars in an effort to improve the efficiency of traffic stops -- getting officers back on the road more quickly to catch more violators.

The award was announced Monday at a news conference involving County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, police Chief Jim Johnson and Bill Bronrott, deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

 

Continue reading "U.S. gives Baltimore County grant for traffic safety" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:38 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 10, 2011

Flooding forces lane closings on St. Paul Street

The Baltimore Department of Transportation has closed several lanes of St. Paul Street between Fayette and Baltimore streets until further notice because of flooding in the William Donald Schaefer Building at the corner of St.  Paul and Baltimore.

The department said the closures are expected to continue as the work continues during the afternoon and perhaps into the evening rush hour. The closings could also change locations.

The city is urging motorists to to avoid the area. Southbound travelers are advised to turn left on Lexington Street to Guilford Avenue or right on Fayette to Park Avenue.

Updates are available at www.GetAroundDowntown.com.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 7, 2011

Insurer offers deal: monitoring for discounts

Progress, the auto insurance company with the ultra-chirpy television pitch woman, has virtually built its business around the word "discounts."

Now it's going to offer its Maryland customers a discount deal that could produce cuts of up to 30 percent off its regular rates. What you have to do to get them is let the company monitor your driving electronically for six months.

The new program, called Snapshot, replaces an 2008 plan called MyRate that also involved installation of an electronic monitor. But where the old one carried the risk of a rate increase if the results proved unfavorable by  the  company's standards, the new on has no downside risk, according to Progressive. And where the MyRate program involved monitoring for the life of the policy, with Snapshot, it's six months and out.

 

Continue reading "Insurer offers deal: monitoring for discounts" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:03 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Lane closings to start at U.S. 40 Patapsco bridge

Traffic disruptions are about to become a way of life for a while for motorists crossing the U.S. 40 bridge over the Patapsco River between Catonsville and Ellicott City.

The State Highway Administration will begin single-lane closings in both directions at 9 a.m. Wednesday as construction crews begin preparatory work for a rehabilitation project slated to start in the spring. The agency is replacing the deck and much of the supporting structure of the aging bridge, which dates back to 1936.

The SHA said single-lane closings, which will allow equipment too be moved into the bridge area safely, can  take place any time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. It said the preliminary work includes construction of a temporary construction access road on  the eastbound side,

Eventually, eastbound and westbound traffic will be routed onto a pair of temporary bridges over the deep river  valley while the existing bridge is demolished and a new one built in its place.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 6, 2011

UPDATE: Some roads closed, traffic being diverted downtown

Update: A suspicious package was also found at 201 W. Preston Street in Baltimore, according to Chief Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the Baltimore Fire Department.
Only the mailroom of the building, which houses the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was being evacuated at about 4 p.m. and the streets around it have been closed.

Howard Street and Martin Luther King were closed at Preston during rush hour. Cars going south on Howard were diverted west onto Dolphin Street. Eight police cars and one bus, unmarked cars, a hazardous material truck and U.S. Homeland Security truck were parked outside the complex.

Police are investigating a suspicious package at the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse in Baltimore. Workers have been evacuated and traffic, which normally flows on both sides of a monument on Calvert Street, is being limited to the east side, along the courthouse annex. Cars and pedestrians were also diverted in front of the Public Defender’s Office at 201 St. Paul Place. Although no streets are closed, motorists may want to avoid this area during the evening commute. At this moment, according to Mike Dresser, the effect on traffic is minimal and there's not a huge backup.

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 5:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 5, 2011

Pedestrian killed in bus crash near State Center

A 47-year-old Baltimore man was killed Tuesday when he was struck by an intercity bus while crossing Martin Luther King Boulevard near State Center, according to Baltimore police.

Police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said Stanley Price Jr. of the 700 block Poplar Grove St. apparently stepped off a curb into the path of a BoltBus near Eutaw Street just after 3 p.m. Silbert said Price was taken to nearby Maryland General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:26 p.m.

According to a preliminary investigation, Price was in a crosswalk but was crossing against the signal while the bus had a green light, Silbert said. He said police had tentatively ruled the fatality a case of pedestrian error.

Continue reading "Pedestrian killed in bus crash near State Center" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:47 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: On the roads
        

Greyhound launches service for rural Maryland

Greyhound and the Maryland Transit Administration have launched a new service connecting communities in Northeastern Maryland and Delaware with the intercity bus company's national network with prices of $21 a ride or less.

The new Baltimore-Wimington line is the first of what could be several short-haul intercity bus lines serving rural Maryland, including routes in Western Maryland and the  Eastern Shore, said MTA spokesman Terry Owens.

The first phase of the Greyhound Connect program, which made its debut this week with promotional fares of $1 through Monday, is part of the MTA's Rural Intercity Bus Program. It will serve Baltimore, White Marsh, Aberdeen, Edgewood, Elkton, Perryville and North East in Maryland as well as Newark and Wilmington in Delaware. Buses will run once a day, 7 days a week in each direction and will connect with the national Greyhound network at stations in Aberdeen and Baltimore.

Continue reading "Greyhound launches service for rural Maryland" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:05 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 4, 2011

Maryland ranks 9th in seat belt use, CDC says

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Maryland ranks 9th in the nation in the percentage of residents who report that they always wear a seat when driving or riding in a car.

Maryland's seat belt use of 89.6 percent lags just over 4 percentage points behind that of Oregon, which ranked first among the states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with 93.7 percent, according to the CDC survey.

Like all of the top 14 in the ranking, Maryland has a primary-enforcement seat belt law, which allows officers to stop a motorist on a violation without observing another offense. Roughly half the states have such laws, while most of the others have secondary laws, allowing enforcement only when a seat belt is not work while another offense is being committed. New Hampshire has no seat belt law of either kind.

The report comes as some highway safety advocates are considering a push in this year's legislative session to toughen the penalties for violating Maryland's seat belt law, which now provides for a $25 fine and no points.

"We  believe there seems to be that hard core," said Robert McKinney, president of the Maryland Highway Safety Foundation. He called the percentage of Marylanders who still drive without belts "unacceptable." The foundation's board will decide the group's legislative priorities next week.

 

Continue reading "Maryland ranks 9th in seat belt use, CDC says" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:31 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

January 3, 2011

SHA to examine Tipsy?Taxi! performance

The State Highway Administration, one of the sponsors of the Tipsy?Taxi! program, was contacted by The Sun for a comment on the problems with the service described below. Here is the reply from the SHA's Lori Rakowski:

Tipsy?Taxi! is a tool to remove would-be impaired drivers from behind the steering wheel on holidays associated with drinking in order to keep Baltimore area roadways safe.  The Maryland State Highway Administration is very concerned that people who wanted to take advantage of the Tipsy?Taxi service were unable to do so and is investigating the complaints brought to our attention by the Baltimore Sun.  The three partners - SHA, AAA Mid-Atlantic and Yellow Cab are working together to determine what can be done differently in the future and will be meeting together in the next month.  Some holidays are more challenging than others - on New Year's Eve the demand outpaces capacity for any cab service. With the increase in Tipsy?Taxi!'s popularity, we will look at ways to communicate with patrons and deliver on the program's mission to provide safe rides home - just as it has more than 2,500 times since the program's start in July 2006.  While the primary message is to plan ahead and seek alternatives to drinking and driving, Tipsy?Taxi! is one option among many such as transit, other cab companies, or designating a sober driver. Whether a holiday or just an ordinary Friday night, personal responsibility and making the right decisions are always key.  For those who made the responsible choice this New Year's Eve - Tipsy?Taxi!, another cab service, public transportation or the use of a designated driver,  we thank you for your partnership in keeping Maryland roadways safe.  Our ultimate goal is to save lives, one person at a time.

It's a good thing that the SHA and its partners plan to take a look at the performance of the program. More generally, I would hope that the state and the taxi industry find a way to promote the use of cabs after a night on the town whether it's a holiday weekend or not.

The partner that's conspicuously missing in this whole equation is the broader alcoholic beverage industry -- both those who make the drinks and those who serve them. One of the big barriers to the use of taxis is the perception that taking a cab is prohibitively expensive. It would be in the interest of all parties -- and the citizens generally -- to defray that cost for restaurant and tavern-goers. A voucher program, underwritten in part by the alcohol industry, could make a lot of sense. They have a big stake in getting their customers home safe and handcuff-free. 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:17 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

Tipsy?Taxi! fails to deliver

It's been many years since this blogger has gone out bar-hopping on New Year's Eve, but this year I was able to call on the services of a 21-year-old surrogate to put the services of Tipsy?Taxi! -- the free cab ride service promoted at various holidays as an alternative to driving -- to the test.

It flunked.

The young man and his friends were well prepared with the phone number of the supposed service as  they headed to Federal Hill to welcome the new year at one of that neighborhood's saloons. But the next day he reported that repeated efforts to get through to the Tipsy?Taxi number were met with a busy signal.

Fortunately, the young men had prepared for the possibility of disappointment by carrying the extra  cash it took to hail a cab and return to Towson when the night's festivities concluded about 2 a.m.

Continue reading "Tipsy?Taxi! fails to deliver" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

December 30, 2010

Happy New Year! And know thy limit

The best advice to give about drinking and driving is simple: Don't.

But many of us aren't quite up to taking the best advice. Good advice will have to do,

For those of us who are less than perfect advice-takers, Getting There offers the following counsel based on decades of experience:

Know thy limit, and enforce it strictly upon thyself.

Continue reading "Happy New Year! And know thy limit" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

December 29, 2010

Truck restrictions in effect for New Year's Eve

The Baltimore Department of Transportation is imposing restrictions on trucks and other commercial vehicles downtown or in the Inner Harbor area for Friday night's New Year's Eve celebration.

According to the city, such vehicles will not be permitted downtown or at the harbor between 4 pp.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday except for local deliveries. Tanker trailers will  not be permitted downtown during  that period for any purpose.

The Inner Harbor is expected to attract thousands of visitors Friday night for the Ports America Chesapeake New Year's Eve Spectacular fireworks show. Parking restrictions will be in effect on Gay, Calvert as Baltimore streets, along with Key Highway,   from 6 p.m. Friday  to 3 a.m. Saturday. Several downtown streets will be closed as of 11 p.m. Friday as the event ends.

For a full list of closings from the city, click below:

 

 

Continue reading "Truck restrictions in effect for New Year's Eve" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

MVA: Don't bother standing in line to renew tags

Maryland motorists seeking to renew their soon-to-expire tags will have five options for doing so next year – but standing in line at Motor Vehicle Administration office counters won’t be one of them.

Starting Monday, the MVA plans to direct customers who want routine renewals of tags expiring in February and subsequent months to automated kiosks or to four other choices that don’t involve a queue. One aim of the decision is to cut waiting times for customers who do need to interact with a clerk.

MVA spokesman Buel Young said the agency already provides 70 percent of its “clean” renewals through sources other than office counters. The change is a move to nudge the other 30 percent in a more efficient direction.

Continue reading "MVA: Don't bother standing in line to renew tags" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

December 28, 2010

Route 24 mess explained -- sort of

Two days before Christmas, hundreds of motorists in Harford County found out that the Grinch has taken up a new career in traffic engineering when they became trapped in strip mall parking lot off Route 24 in Abingdon for involuntary stays of two hours or more.

According to a Maryland State Police duty officer, the lot at the Constant Friendship Shopping center was jammed by a influx of holiday shoppers that overwhelmed the capacity of the single exit onto Tollgate Road just off 24.

Continue reading "Route 24 mess explained -- sort of" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:31 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: On the roads
        

AAA finds 1 in 10 admit possibly driving drunk

With New Year's Eve approaching, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has uncovered a sobering indicator of the dangers on the nation's roads: One in 10 drivers admits to having driven when drunk or close to the limit during the past year.

According to an AAA survey, more than half of those motorists -- 5.5 percent of the total -- say they have driven while in that condition more  than once over the past 12 months. That means that out of any 20 vehicles you might encounter on the road this weekend, at least one is likely to be driven by a person for whom drinking and driving is more than an aberration.

The same survey found strong national support, 69 percent, for the idea of requiring anyone  found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol to install a device in his or her vehicle that prevents it from being started when its operator has been drinking. Legislation that would have required the so-called  ignition interlock devices for all offenders, including first-time violators, was squelched by the House Judiciary Committee on the last day of last year's Maryland General Assembly session  after having passed the Senate.

The same survey found that nine in 10 drivers would support such a requirement for repeat offenders. The issue is virtually certain too be revived in the legislative  session that begins next month.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: On the roads
        

December 27, 2010

At 81, driver decides to hang up the keys

Jim Holechek of Baltimore has a present to offer his fellow drivers this holiday season: his story.

At 81, Holechek says he’s giving up driving. He’s fixed Dec. 31 as his last day behind the wheel.

“That’s the last day that I’ll drive unless there’s an emergency or something comes up,” he said.

His reasoning, his self-awareness, his courage and willingness to share will be a gift to many readers of this column, especially middle-aged people dealing with aging parents and older drivers struggling to come to terms with the limitations closing in on them.

Continue reading "At 81, driver decides to hang up the keys" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:42 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: On the roads
        

December 23, 2010

Traffic logjam traps motorists in Harford shopping area

Hundreds of motorists have become trapped in a massive traffic logjam near Abingdon in Harford County after a strip mall parking lot became overwhelmed with vehicles during a late Christmas shopping rush.

Corporal Krysiak (who declined to  give his first name), duty officer at the Maryland State Police barracks in Bel Air, said troopers and Harford County sheriff's deputies were  summoned this afternoon when motorists could not get out of the parking lot at the Constant Friendship Business Park at Route 24 and Tollgate Road because there was too much traffic for the number of entrances. The shopping area has a BJ's, Target Greatland, Lowes and Regal Cinema.

Continue reading "Traffic logjam traps motorists in Harford shopping area" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:52 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: On the roads
        

Slate tale of 'Unbuilt Highways' resonates here

The online Slate magazine is running a fascinating article on the "Unbuilt Highways" that have left lasting marks on major cities in the United States and abroad.

Baltimore is not among the cities named in the article -- which include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington and Seoul -- but it easily could have been included. There are certainly few other cities where roads that were planned but not built have had greater community impacts. You can look to the "Highway to Nowhere" as a visible reminder of the scars left on West  Baltimore, while Fells Point and Canton stand are historical monuments to that which might have been lost had highway foes not rallied to their defense.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:59 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads
        

National gas price average breaks $3 barrier