State Highway Administration rates praise for I-83 work


June 14, 1993

As often as we criticize the State Highway Administration, Intrepid Commuter feels an obligation to praise the agency's good works.

Here are some of our favorite things about the SHA:

Many of the lines its workers paint on the pavement are straight.

Its roads are fairly hard.

Highways described as southbound generally are.

Its bridges usually don't collapse when new.

But wait, there's more. Consider two criticisms of a state-maintained highway recently brought to our attention by faithful reader Frank A. Cirincione of Parkton, who commutes daily along Interstate 83.

First, Mr. Cirincione writes, "The construction of the Warren Road exit off I-83 in Cockeysville . . . seems to be proceeding extremely slowly. So little work is being accomplished it seems that something is not right.

"Also, another I-83 sore point is the southbound slow lane at the weigh station," he continues. "The lane is very rough and needs replacing for at least a mile in and around the station."

How are these comments positive? Well, it turns out the SHA is on top of both situations, says spokeswoman Liz Kalinowski.

Construction of the Warren Road exit is actually ahead of schedule. Work on the $6.3 million project, launched in January 1992 and scheduled to be finished in December, likely will be completed in September.

It just looks like it's been slow because I-83 travelers have seen a completed ramp, Ms. Kalinowski says. What they can't see are the approaches that still must be graded and surfaced.

(Keep in mind, however, that the $7.9 million project to extend Warren Road west as far as Beaver Dam Road started way back in 1990. But that's another story.)

As for the potholes around the truck weigh station, the agency recently awarded a $1.1 million contract to resurface southbound I-83 from Old York Road (Exit 36) to Middletown Road (Exit 31), a five-mile segment that includes the weigh station.

"It's certainly due for resurfacing," Ms. Kalinowski says. "It's a little rough."

There you have it. Despite what you may think about state government, your tax dollars are at work. At least some of the time on certain roads.

Ask not how long Kennedy job takes

Speaking of road construction, we received a SunDial call recently asking about the status of the Route 152 interchange on the John Kennedy Memorial Highway in Joppa.

Work seems to have practically ground to a halt for much of the spring, the reader points out, and the Harford County project seems to drag on endlessly.

We asked for an update from the Maryland Transportation Authority, which has jurisdiction over that portion of Interstate 95. Authority officials inform us that while the wet spring weather did slow down work for a while, it's humming right along now.

Begun in March 1991, the construction project includes the Route 152/Mountain Road overpass across the toll road and about 5,600 feet along the approaches that are being widened and resurfaced.

It's all part of the $35 million widening of the Kennedy Highway that is adding a lane on northbound and southbound I-95 from the Baltimore Beltway to Route 24 in Harford County.

Anthony Brown, an authority spokesman, said the Route 152 work should be finished by the end of next month.

The entire Kennedy Highway project should be wrapped up by October.

Light rail review: Only second worst

How does Baltimore's Central Light Rail Line stack up against its counterparts?

Not very well, says a trade publication that has evaluated them.

The New Electric Railway Journal, a publication of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, gives Baltimore's light rail system a four on a 10-point scale in its spring issue.

That's the second worst rating of the 21 systems evaluated across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The worst is Philadelphia, a three. The best: Portland, Ore., Sacramento, Calif., Calgary, Alberta, and San Diego, with nines.

Under the Baltimore review, the authors note that "a lack of walk-in riders on a large part of the system does not bode well."

The ratings are based on a staff consensus, supplemented with input from "interested readers," and reflect the degree "to which a system lives up to its potential."

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