If O.C. seemed crowded, it was Destinations: Local travelers recently surveyed by AAA of Maryland preferred Ocean City over other summer vacation spots.

Intrepid Commuter

September 02, 1996

DISNEY'S MOUSE was no match for Ocean City as Marylanders hit the highways and skyways for that last-hurrah-of-summer getaway.

A survey dished out for the final "dawg days" by AAA of Maryland on vacation trends showed local folk favored not only O.C. over Orlando, Fla., but also Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, Va., as other favorites.

The survey of eight American Automobile Association branches in Maryland also turned up Pigeon Forge, Tenn., home of country singer Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park.

About 33 million people were expected to travel over the Labor Day weekend, AAA said.

And speaking of summer getaways -- just as everyone is returning from that last fling -- news of a different sort has just gurgled up from the Eastern Shore. "Demoflush" statistics from Ocean City indicate that the resort town has been extremely busy this summer.

"Demoflush" stats are population figures based on wastewater flow from Ocean City, provided by Worcester County Sanitation Division.

In June, according to the flushed-out estimates, the average weekend population in Ocean City was 233,540 (compared with 230,188 in June 1995), while July weekends saw 311,009 (compared with 302,532 in July 1995).

For August, with the final weekend's flow yet unreported, the weekend average population was 310,373 (303,496 a year ago).

School's back in session, so watch out for buses

With all Maryland school systems back in business this week, Intrepid warns drivers to be aware of children and those familiar yellow buses.

In Baltimore, the Mass Transit Administration transports nearly 40,000 students to and from school each day on buses, light rail and the Metro. This year, the agency is starting a program with city public schools Wednesday to provide bus service to Patterson High and Thurgood Marshall, Southeast and Northeast middle schools.

Students using this service -- called the No. 49 line -- will pay a fare of 95 cents and should get to school more quickly.

No, those aren't sunflowers, they're barrier supports

Is that a crop of late-summer sunflower stalks reaching skyward along the Beltway near Towson? The yellowish stems sprouted after State Highway Administration tractors cleared shrubs and trees this summer.

SHA officials said their workers were not raising a botanical garden but planting steel spikes to hold long-awaited sound barriers as part of a $7.7 million project. The barriers are being installed by a Delta, Pa., contractor to muffle the whizzing and whooshing sounds of Beltway traffic between Charles Street and Dulaney Valley Road.

The sound barrier project will be completed by fall 1997, SHA's Valerie Burnette Edgar said.

New operating hours set for emissions inspections

The state's 19 VEIP (Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program) stations have new operating hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m to 1 p.m. Saturday, effective immediately, Motor Vehicle Administration officials said last week.

The VEIP program operates in Baltimore and 13 counties, testing emission levels of vehicles manufactured after 1977. About 2.4 million vehicles are subject to the biennial testing, and officials are predicting good results from this year:

They say that by detecting faulty emissions systems, the VEIP will help remove 21 tons of ozone-forming pollutants from Maryland's airspace daily. That figure is expected to increase to 71 tons a day by the year 1999.

In light of last week's news about a change in the daily operation and maintenance of the company that runs VEIP for the state, Intrepid One is seeking stories -- good and bad -- about experiences at its testing stations. Mail, call or fax in your saga.

Red hot intersection, missing bus bench

SHORTCUTS: Intrepid has deemed the corner of 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue the hottest intersection in town. That's where drivers constantly see red (as in stop lights) and keep on going. Why can't city police from the nearby Northeast District do something to stop these transgressions? Also on the subject of red lights, a caller sought Intrepid's advice about turning left on a red light. State law says it's legal at an intersection of two one-way streets -- unless a posted sign warns against such turns What happened to the bus-stop bench in front of Lou's Bar at the corner of Ponca Street and Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown? It disappeared about a month ago, and riders of the Nos. 10 and 23 buses want to know who took it. All they have to lean on is a city trash can.

Pub Date: 9/02/96

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