Road production gets mixed reviews from commuters who use Calvert St. Busy downtown route is being resurfaced

July 04, 1996|By Alex Gordon | Alex Gordon,SUN STAFF

For Katharyn Davies, a production manager at Center Stage at 700 N. Calvert St., road construction outside the theater has taken center stage.

"This seems unending," she said, a hint of the theater in her voice. "I am trying to repress how difficult and unpleasant it is to get to work. I begin to despair that it will ever get completed."

The source of Davies' angst is the resurfacing of Calvert Street, stretching from Lexington Street north to Madison Street. The construction is being performed on the section between Monument Street and Madison.

Kurt Kocher, spokesman for the city Department of Public Works, says the construction -- which began June 11 -- is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

Calvert Street needed repairs, Kocher says.

The work is the second phase of the $576,295 contract between the city and P. Flanigan and Sons Inc.

The company resurfaced St. Paul Street -- between Lexington and Centre streets -- from April to June.

"This is a minor inconvenience for a major improvement," Kocher said. "People will be grateful because they will ultimately have a nice smooth road to drive on and a more pleasurable drive. We are giving the road a brand new surface to last for many years."

For some time, Calvert Street motorists -- and their tires -- have felt the jarring effects of a steel plate prominently situated between Lombard and Redwood streets. The plate was placed over what was thought to be a broken water valve under the street, but the break occurred "further down the line about a block away," Kocher said.

He added that crews from the Bureau of Water and Waste Water will remove the plate and begin permanent repairs Monday.

Meanwhile, Bayu Gebreamlak, manager of the Chesapeake Center Parking Garage at 601 N. Calvert St., where Davies parks, says that business has improved as a result of the construction.

Drivers who normally would park their cars on the side of the street -- which now is blocked -- are using the garage.

"I have no complaint," he said. "It is necessary to update the street in order to eliminate the humps and bumps. I think $H everyone would enjoy a smooth ride, but before that is always complaints."

Such is the case with Percy Nickens, who works at Harbor Court Hotel on Light Street.

He says that because of traffic slowed by the construction, he must leave home a half-hour early to arrive at work on time.

"It's a hazard getting back and forth to work with the congestion," he said, after parking his car on the left side of Calvert below Monument.

He added, "The traffic is nerve-breaking to me."

The flow of northbound traffic along Calvert Street is disrupted especially during morning and evening rush hours, as commuters are squeezed from three lanes to one on the section under construction.

Sharon Lewis, an employee at the state Department of Human Resources at 500 N. Calvert St., sat outside her building and, cigarette in hand, offered her view of the road work one morning this week.

"The traffic is horrendous in the morning, and I have to access Calvert Street to get to work," she said. "The street needs work, and I'm glad they're working on it. But Calvert Street is an important artery to get people out of downtown, so why not have the crew work in the evening rather than during rush hour?"

The answer, according to Kocher, is simple.

"At night, there might be problems with lights and more cost," he said. "The construction is being done continuously throughout the day. The part of the street is already dug up, so logically it wouldn't make any difference."

Kocher also said that once resurfacing is complete on the right side of Calvert between Monument and Madison, construction then will shift to the left side of Calvert and proceed north in a similar fashion.

For now, patience seems the virtue of choice for Lucia Bowes and Shannan Shaughnessy, employees of Center Stage who -- like Davies -- take Calvert Street to work.

"I'm glad to see they're repaving it," Bowes said. "We just have to put up with construction for a few weeks."

"Yeah," agreed Shaughnessy, with a playful smirk. "I'll just have to [put in] my earplugs when I walk down the street."

Pub Date: 7/04/96

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