Parkway's sour scenery Aesthetics: South of Route 175, the Baltimore- Washington pike offers miles of natural splendor. North of 175, however, the landscape is decidedly less spectacular. dTC

Intrepid Commuter

December 30, 1996

THE BALTIMORE- Washington Parkway is starting to look like the roadway version of the "haves" and "have-nots."

A drive along the two-lane road south of Route 175 in Anne Arundel County allows one to ponder the natural beauty of the trail. Yet north of Route 175, such scenic wonder turns sour.

It's there that the State Highway Administration picks up maintenance of the road to the Baltimore City line. Bureaucrats explained to Intrepid One that their portion was designed for truck traffic and therefore the rugged, unkempt look is justified.

"We like it the way it is," says Thomas Hicks, director of traffic for the SHA.

In recent years, the National Park Service, which maintains the southern half of the parkway, launched a project to renovate its part of the road. Included in the job was construction of new road shoulders, gutters and drainpipes, as well as stone retaining walls.

Explains Harry Sloat of the park service: "It's a parkway, and aesthetics are important. Updates will make it look more manicured.

"It's a scenic drive and supposed to be a pleasant drive."

Hicks said he doubts the state will mirror the feds' efforts. To commit funds to gussy up its portion of the parkway "would not add anything. It wouldn't be a wise investment of state funds," he said.

"In our judgment, the road is attractive as it is," Hicks said.

That's fine if you like wearing one black and one brown shoe.

Training the high beams on a problem in Fullerton

On Belair Road near Rossville Boulevard, look for the Change of the Light Brigade.

A drive-by shows no streetlights for nearly two blocks to brighten busy Belair Road -- instead the lights are facing backward off the road.

The flip-flop is comical. Instead of lighting the way for drivers, the streetlights train strong beams on Taco Bell, Levitz Furniture and rows of new 4Runner trucks at Jerry's Toyota.

"I thought this pretty curious and I figured you'd be the best avenue to bring it to light," wrote Brian Lawless, who commutes past the flip-flop daily.

Intrepid asked about it last week at the showroom at Jerry's. Sales Manager Kim Danchulis said the odd placement of the lights was made at Jerry's request. It seems Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews that installed the lights were paid by the dealership to place them overhanging the business and not the road.

As to why the county let the stretch of Belair Road go without lighting, Intrepid called the Baltimore County traffic department's streetlight division. But that office was staffed by a tape recorder last week, which squawked that all employees would be on holiday break until today.

So be sure to click on the high beams when passing through Fullerton after sundown.

Seeking motorists' stories about anti-lock brakes

In search of: Any motorist who has experienced trouble with anti-lock brakes. One research group says cars with anti-lock brakes are involved in more fatal crashes than cars without the feature.

Possible explanations are that drivers are less careful because of the anti-locking benefit, or that drivers use the brakes improperly by "pumping" them like old-style brakes.

Those with stories are invited to call the Intrepid hot line at 783-1800, Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 268-7736. Stories may be published.

Shortcuts

A "care" bus will roam 51 Mass Transit Administration stops between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. New Year's Eve. The MTA chariot for partygoers will operate every 10 to 15 minutes, and stops will be marked with large blue-and-white ribbons tied in a festive bow. If you're driving, though, and drink too much, remember to call 685-1212 or *TAXI on a cell phone for a free cab ride home. This service is provided by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council's Safe and Sober Ride program, which runs through Wednesday. Yellow Transportation cabbies are being paid to shuttle people safely home through a grant from the State Highway Administration. Last year, 9,620 people were injured in alcohol-related accidents in Maryland. Until Jan. 10, expect the southbound ramp of Route 24 onto Interstate 95 in Harford County to be closed periodically for emergency repairs. Detours will be posted.

Pub Date: 12/30/96

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