ROUTE 2 - A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County
It hasn't been easy for handicapped people to use the Noah Hillman parking garage in Annapolis recently.
Signs politely apologizing for its broken elevator have been hanging at the entrances to the garage for what seems to be eons, but city officials insist has been only months.
Transportation Director James Chase said the elevator broke down near the end of the city's fiscal year in June. The department didn't have $7,000 left in its budget to fix the elevator, Chase said, so it had to wait for the City Council's Finance Committee to transfer money from the general fund.
Now that the money has been transferred and the department has received bids for the work, Chase said, the elevator "should be fixed any moment."
In the meantime, the city has done what it can for handicapped people using the garage, Chase said.
"We've been facilitating them," he said. "We haven't been giving them any hassles."
Attendants for Park America Inc., which runs the garage, have given first-floor parking spaces to people who ask for them. Some people have driven into the garage without seeing the signs, then refused to pay when they found the elevator was broken. Attendants gave them their money back.
It could have been worse. The problem is a broken line that pumps lubricant from the machine room to the elevator's hydraulics. The line -- like most things that go wrong on my Volkswagen -- is in a hard-to-reach place, buried under 20 yards of concrete. But rather than dig up half the garage to replace the line, the city found a contractor who can re-route the line overhead.