Snow means slow Back to work, school: Roads narrowed by piles of snow and made slippery by icy conditions are expected to make Marylanders' bid to return to their normal routines slow and trying.

January 16, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Jay Apperson, Howard Libit, Mary Maushard, Sherrie Ruhl and Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

Maryland's attempt to get back to business as usual this morning is expected to be complicated by icy roads, still-narrow streets on major routes and school bus stops piled with snow or ice.

Yesterday's 48-degree weather that helped the melting was a mixed blessing, officials said, because predicted overnight freezing temperatures probably will make the now-wet roads slick for the morning commute.

In addition, most of the main roads, although they have all been BTC plowed, are still not clear from curb to curb. For example, much of St. Paul Street, an important route into downtown from North Baltimore, was barely two lanes wide yesterday afternoon and ++ narrowed to one lane in at least one section, at Centre Street.

And with snowbanks still high at many intersections where children wait for school buses, all but the city schools will be opening late today.

"I would suspect that people are not going to find everything the way that they're used to," said George G. Balog, city director of public works. "You will have some backups. I think the key is patience. I think people are going to have to accept the fact that we had 30 inches of snow and they might not find that parking place that they're used to finding."

With cars sharing fewer lanes with buses, trucks and the occasional pedestrian, traffic is bound to move more slowly. Some people were still walking in the streets yesterday because sidewalks had not been shoveled, creating an obstacle for vehicular traffic.

And any vehicle that stops to double-park -- a truck making a delivery, or a bus or taxi stopping to let people off -- will create a backup.

Baltimore's snow emergency, which prohibits parking along snow emergency routes, is expected to be lifted at 6 a.m.

Suburban officials were advising residents to stick to the main roads today. In Anne Arundel County, nearly all roads are passable, but many are narrow and have packed snow on them. Some small residential streets have only one lane open.

"I would recommend against the shortcuts through the communities," said Lisa I. Ritter, a county spokeswoman.

The relatively warmer weather yesterday afternoon that caused so much of the snow to melt was expected to be followed by freezing overnight, with temperatures in the mid-teens, that could create some icy road conditions this morning. "That's going to be the big problem during this meltdown," said National Weather Service forecaster Amet Figueroa.

The good news is that for the next several days, overnight temperatures will be well above freezing, and the light rain and drizzle predicted for tomorrow will not be icy, he said.

Some city residents were struck by the contrast between snow removal efforts in Baltimore City and in Baltimore County. On the portion of Charles Street that runs through Baltimore County, four lanes were open yesterday, but they narrowed to one lane in each direction at the city line.

Maureen Vogtman, who lives in the 2600 block of Linwood Road in Northeast, said city plows have yet to visit her street. But just down the street in the 2500 block, which is in Baltimore County, her neighbors are enjoying a cleared street.

"It's ludicrous," she said. "They're down to bare blacktop and we have nothing done and I think our taxes are probably twice theirs."

Mr. Balog said his crews are doing the best they can in the face of what was a massive snow storm. "The city's congested. We don't have a place to put the snow," he said.

To illustrate the difficulty of getting rid of all the snow, his engineers did some calculations over the weekend, he said. If all the snow that fell on city streets were piled on the site of the demolished Lafayette Courts, where some of it is being dumped, it would create a pile 1,000 feet high.

"If we put it on a football field, it would be 3 1/2 miles high," he said. "If we put it in the harbor, we'd have 1 foot of water in the whole downtown area."

All of Central Maryland's school districts will be open for the first time in more than a week, although several will open late. Baltimore City schools were scheduled to open on time, but Superintendent Walter G. Amprey asked principals to be understanding of tardy students. "We know it's going to take a long time to get to school and kids are going to be late," said schools spokeswoman Robyn Washington.

Schools in Baltimore County will open one hour late to allow for fewer bus runs in the pre-dawn darkness and for rush-hour traffic to thin, officials said. In Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, schools will open two hours late.

Baltimore County workers who spent last week plowing roads focused yesterday on clearing school parking lots and sidewalks to prepare for the reopening of public schools. Officials said they expected to have virtually all parking lots and main sidewalks to the schools open by last night.

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