THE VOTES ARE IN, and Baltimore ranks among the nation's 25 most gridlocked cities.
A study of highways in 1993 by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University showed that Baltimore's roads are the 22nd most clogged, trailing such cities as Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and New York. Washington had the distinction of being No. 2.
The study showed just how costly it is to be jammed up in traffic. Besides time, gridlock costs us $51 billion a year for travel delays and excess fuel consumption.
In case you're wondering, traffic jams aren't measured with a blood pressure cuff. They are evaluated using a statistic called the roadway congestion index, which calculates the number of miles that drivers travel on freeways and principal streets.
The institute's recently released computations show Los Angeles at the top, followed by Washington, where commuters spend 70 hours a year at a standstill.
If you want a steady, peaceful and uninterrupted commute, move to Corpus Christi, that gulf town in southern Texas.
Researchers say the streets of Corpus Christi are the least congested in the United States. Other cities where the driving is easy: El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh; Orlando, Fla.; and Charlotte, N.C.
MTA doesn't advertise where it sells tokens
Fumbling with $1.35 to board an MTA bus or train is not something H. S. Liberto wants to do each time public transportation rolls around.
"It takes a lot more time to deposit it into a fare box than one token," Liberto recently wrote to Intrepid One.
Problem is, Liberto can't figure out where to buy the tokens. It seems Mass Transit Administration officials don't advertise locations to buy the small metallic coins other than the Transit Store at 6 St. Paul St.
"Neither the Transit Store employees nor the operators at [the MTA's customer service phone number] are aware of anywhere else to buy them," Liberto wrote.
Anthony Brown, MTA spokesman, says tokens may be purchased at a variety of locations in the metropolitan area including the Municipal Building at City Hall, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, the Ace Currency Exchange on Park Avenue and most major banks.
Also available are MTA passes for $3 daily, $14 weekly and $54 monthly.
A 'Slice' of light in our fair city
Driving along Pulaski Highway, Donna Andrews seeks out the bright "Slice sign" at Moravia Road as her landmark to turn into her Northeast Baltimore neighborhood. If she misses the sign -- which features a cutout of the city's name -- she heads off course and onto the Harbor Tunnel Thruway.
But at night, Andrews finds it difficult to see the colorful orange sign -- dubbed "slice" by city Department of Public Works workers after a popular soda pop.
"At night, you can't see the sign at all," she says, suggesting that it be illuminated.
"I also think this would be a good thing to do since the sign is letting motorists know that they are entering our fair city."
City crews will be dispatched this week to investigate the sign -- one of three such beacons in Charm City (the others are on U.S. 40 West at the city line and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway). Nightlights may soon brighten the board, said DPW spokesman Kurt L. Kocher.
Expect delays on the north side of the Beltway between midnight and 5 a.m. through Thursday, as workers place structural steel beams for the new Falls Road bridge. The inner and outer loops will be closed for about 15 minutes at a time to accommodate the work. Entering the weird winter weather months, MTA mavens remind us to hop aboard a bus or train if our wheels get stranded. Buses, light rail, Metro subway cars and Maryland Rail Commuter trains strive to operate when the going gets tough. Look for curtailed action, though in case of a blizzard or severe ice. For details, call the MTA at 539-5000 for a "Snow Guide" brochure.
Pub Date: 1/06/97