Park's roads have gone to pot Eyesore: Shoddy maintenance pervades routes through Druid Hill Park, and even George Washington's statue is sprouting grass.

The Intrepid Commuter

September 16, 1996

DRUID HILL PARK is a shady respite from the city's hustle and bustle. Tucked away in a corner of the northwest corridor, the park attracts thousands of visitors each year eager to experience botanical beauty at the Conservatory, serpent mania at the Reptile House or the big draw, furry friends at the Baltimore Zoo.

Getting there is another story.

Your Intrepid One drove through the park last week only to shake, rattle and roll while trying to navigate the shoddy road surfaces on all streets winding through Druid. In addition to potholes-a-plenty, sidewalks are cracked and uneven, some curbs have fallen off in chunks, and weeds and tall grass are taking over.

This place is an unkempt eyesore.

There's even a life-size statue of George Washington, father of our country, on Swan Drive that has experienced such mediocre maintenance that a large weed is sprouting on the general's rear.

This mess is not limited to Intrepid's observations. Ray Garfield, who travels through the park to work, wrote Intrepid to complain that his "car is aching" from the bumpy commute.

"The road through the park on both sides is horrible," Garfield wrote. "I've called City Hall a number of times, but their answer is 'Huh?' Nobody knows nothing!"

Intrepid set out to find some answers. Gennady Schwartz of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, which maintains Druid, said his agency hopes to embark on a slate of improvements next spring.

Until the $300,000 project of lighting and road patches is done, though, visitors will have to hang on as they rumble through one of the city's (once) majestic parks. What a pity.

After the I-695 exit, the nightmare begins

Exiting the Beltway at Greenspring Avenue can be very trying these days.

With the Falls Road bridge torn asunder and a new one under construction, motorists are detoured through this exit onto nearby Old Court Road.

Problem is, once you get off of Interstate 695, a whole slew of traffic nightmares awaits.

The Greenspring ramp is short, causing a backup onto I-695 at rush hours.

Then, the art of yielding to north- and southbound traffic on Greenspring sets up a kamikaze blitz into traffic -- which leads to a sudden halt on the two lanes at the Old Court intersection. Those lanes are so short, only five cars (six, maybe, if we're talking compacts) can fit there when the light is red.

All of this leads to a whopper of a headache daily. As reader Norman Shillman recently told Intrepid, "We need some relief!"

Take two aspirins, dear drivers, help is on the way. State Highway Administration engineers said last week that they are keenly aware of the Greenspring-Old Court clog.

Assistant traffic engineer Darrell Wiles agreed the problem is bad and "getting worse."

As a cure, Wiles and his crew are going to add time to the area's traffic lights to ease the flow of north- and southbound traffic on Greenspsring. They'll do this by planting a robotic trigger called a loop detector into the pavement of the Beltway ramp.

The loop-meister automatically will count the number of cars on the ramp and relay the information to the nearby signal, which will turn red or green based on the data.

All these changes should be in place by the end of September. Intrepid invites future comments on the Greenspring-Old Court intersection and detour to monitor the situation.

To go home, you need a pass or a good excuse

Come Sept. 29 -- the next time the Baltimore Ravens land at Memorial Stadium -- those who live in Ednor Gardens-Lakeside and Waverly will need a (Raven) purple parking pass or a pretty good excuse to enter their neighborhood during game time.

That's when the city's transit and traffic officers will barricade the neighborhood, saving it from itself and the onslaught of Raven-maniacs.

Originally, the city planned to block off a 10-block radius around the stadium, allowing in only people with football tickets and permits -- which were to be distributed to residents. "But immediately, we saw the folly of that -- it could turn the whole thing into one big mess of gridlock," said Maj. Bert Shirey, head of the Northeastern police district.

Instead, a squad of city traffic officers will play bouncer on game days. For now, officers have been instructed that "if someone gives a convincing story of how they live in the neighborhood, we let them through," Shirey said. Proof in the form of a driver's license helps.

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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