Sprucing up never stops along Arundel highway Maintenance: Numerous projects are planned for Route 2, including landscaping, turning lanes and widening the road to six lanes.

September 14, 1997|By Elaine Tassy and Michelle Wong | Elaine Tassy and Michelle Wong,SUN STAFF

Raleigh Medley is one of the workers charged with keeping Route 2 plowed, mowed, landscaped and litter-free.

"I've done the grass cutting with the hand weed whackers and with the tractor motors," said Medley, 44, who has worked for the Annapolis office of the State Highway Administration since 1971.

"I've dug ditches. I've cut grass. I've pushed snow with the power trucks. Asphalt work, brush and tree cutting, guardrail repair."

He's gone from laborer to resident maintenance engineer and now oversees Route 2 south of Robinson Road, from Severna Park to the Calvert County line.

The roadway, like an aging dandy, is never without need of sprucing up.

"It never stops," said Russell Yates, another resident maintenance engineer in charge of the rest of Route 2, from Robinson Road north to the Baltimore City line.

From July 1, 1996, to June, 30, 1997, 15,560 hours of labor went into such tasks as patching potholes, repairing curbs and gutters, pulling weeds, cleaning bridges, controlling erosion and maintaining signs.

Some of the details:

The most time, 3,071 hours, was spent on hand mowing, and the least -- four hours -- on removing graffiti.

Mowing costs $18,500 a year, done five times a year with a tractor, sometimes with contracted laborers or inmates from the detention center in Jessup.

Workers picked up 420 tons of litter -- at a cost of $14,000 -- last year. "Ritchie Highway is a fast-food magnet," Yates said. "And wherever there's fast food, there's litter."

Bigger work projects in Brooklyn Park are under way on several sections of the road.

These will include roadwork, with left-turn lanes at most intersections. The project also will include sidewalks and landscaping.

The same work was completed on the strip between Ninth and Camrose avenues last year, and a strip between Camrose Avenue and the Baltimore Beltway will be complete in the spring.

Next, workers will add turning lanes to the one-mile stretch of Solomons Island Road in Edgewater between Virginia Avenue and Southdown Road. Now, most of that strip is two lanes.

The SHA will transform it to six lanes -- three in each direction -- with a left-turn lane in the center.

The two-year design phase to widen Route 2, beginning in July, will cost $680,000, but budgets have not been set or approved for right-of-way acquisition or construction.

Since 1990, people have complained of overcrowding there. One afternoon in Edgewater, more than 20 cars southbound on Solomons Island Road were lined up to turn left onto Mayo Road, sometimes at a standstill although the lights were green.

"The danger is if you need to cut across traffic," said Betsy Weinkam, who lives in the 2900 block of Solomons Island Road. Traffic is so sluggish that she doesn't shop on weekends.

As for more lanes, she said: "I think it's very necessary. I can't wait."

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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