Toll Booths Are Cleaned

Intrepid Commuter

So Are Speeders' Wallets

Speed: A Trooper Is Lying In Wait For Pedal Pushers Who Enter I-695 `Almost Airborne' From Bellona Avenue.

April 28, 1997

THERE'S A stakeout going on along the Bellona Avenue ramp of Interstate 695.

State Tfc. Bryan Sporrer, a 13-year veteran, has aimed his radar gun at the top of the ramp to catch eager lead-footers entering the Beltway. And he's nabbing them left and right.

"I've had them come over that hill almost airborne," Sporrer said. "I'm clocking them at up to 62 mph."

Problem is, drivers turning off Charles Street onto the ramp have no idea about the posted speed limit -- the only signs listing the 30 mph limit are around the bend on Bellona toward York Road. So it's out of sight, out of mind -- until they meet Sporrer.

"In my opinion, it's a problem area," said Sporrer's boss, state police Lt. Michael Fischer of the Golden Ring Barracks.

It may help to clue drivers into this before slamming their pocketbooks.

Rough ride

Grip your steering wheel a little tighter when you drive under the Howard Street Bridge heading north on Interstate 83. There, you'll encounter a rough patch of pavement that will make your car rumble as though it's breaking down.

The problem has bothered drivers for years, and one daily traveler, Carl Schleuner, is fed up.

"With the thousands of cars that ride over these areas every day, something needs to be done to improve the situation," Schleuner lamented to Intrepid One. "Please! Please! Please!"

The bumpy patch is at a place where cars -- sans traffic jam -- would reach cruising speed of 50 mph. That makes it an even livelier ride, Schleuner says.

City work crews will investigate and fix this mess, promised the ever-cheerful Department of Public Works spokesman Kurt L. Kocher. Watch this space for results.

Tidy toll booths

Spring cleaning is under way nearly everywhere these days -- including the state's tunnels and bridges.

That's what Intrepid discovered last week when emerging from a lengthy midday traffic jam at Fort McHenry Tunnel, only to realize the 40-minute tie-up was caused by workers washing the toll booths.

Such driver angst is being repeated all over the state as Maryland Transportation Authority maintenance workers wash away winter's grime with a $275,000 machine called a Unimog. Look for traffic hang-ups at the 12 toll lanes at the Harbor Tunnel and at the Bay Bridge's toll booths, both due for a bath this week.

The Unimog has been roving Maryland's toll facilities since 1987, when bureaucrats got tired of looking at the filth in tunnels and on their toll booths. So they bought three "mogs," which are really roaming carwash trucks, and started scrubbing.

"We've had letters from people raving about the cleanliness," said Mike Darago, maintenance supervisor at Fort McHenry Tunnel. "It brings out the bright nice shine and makes our tunnels look better than New York or Virginia."

Air waves

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's pledge last week of $643,000 for a passenger terminal at tiny St. Mary's County Airport will attract commuter flights from Baltimore-Washington International Airport and National and Dulles International airports.

The airport, now used by private light-aircraft owners, is expected to become busier by late next year as the Navy expands its operations at nearby Patuxent River Naval Air Station, 60 miles southeast of Washington.

"Definitely exciting times," cooed Barbara Thompson, president of the county commission. "Two years ago, I would never have thought we'd be talking about a terminal at St. Mary's County Airport."

Now all that's needed is an airline to operate out of the airport.

Shortcuts

Mark this date: At 1 p.m. Thursday, the new Falls Road Bridge, that span of Route 25 that crosses the Beltway at Brooklandville, is scheduled to open to traffic after being closed nearly a year. State and Baltimore County bureaucrats will attend an elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremony. The cost of self-serve regular unleaded gas has declined nearly 3 cents per gallon this month, as shown by a AAA survey of 30 gas stations in Maryland, excluding Prince George's, Charles and Montgomery counties.

Pub Date: 4/28/97

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