Landscape is piling up Soil: Engineers have turned the U-shaped island near Greenspring Avenue and Old Court Road into a four-story dumping ground.

Intrepid Commuter

September 29, 1997

IF YOU HAPPEN to pass the Greenspring Avenue exit on the Inner Loop of Interstate 695, you may notice an addition to the landscape.

Call it Mount Greenspring -- Baltimore's wimpy answer to the Shenandoahs that grace the rural valleys of Virginia.

This new landscape has been built by State Highway Administration engineers who have turned the U-shaped island of the intersection near Old Court Road into a four-story dumping ground for soil removed during the many construction projects on the Beltway these days.

Mount Greenspring looms oddly over the Beltway and the exit ramp. At first glance, it makes commuters utter what theheck is that thing doing there, but lately it's given drivers something to look at during gridlocked rush hours.

"It will fluctuate," David Buck, an SHA spokesman, promised Intrepid One last week.

That means Mount Greenspring could rise and fall depending on progress this fall of the Beltway widening project and the effort to install sound barriers.

Buck says the mount will be dismantled and its soil trucked to other locations when the Beltway construction is over next year.

As for possible mudslides from the mess into the troubled Greenspring Avenue exit, Buck passed on the question.

"The way they are building it, it shouldn't be a problem," he said.

Public Works has habit of not finishing work

Driving west on Cold Spring Lane just off the Interstate 83 exit, the scene resembles the barren, weird setting of a "Mad Max" movie, sans Mel Gibson.

The city Department of Public Works started a resurfacing project there, but walked away and left the job incomplete -- much to the dismay of commuters and residents who have to live with the mess until the city returns to finish it. This approach to repairs is a problem repeated all over the city.

What you'll see on west Cold Spring looks like science fiction right here in Charm City: A flock of holes drilled in one lane surrounded by countless bright orange barrels that are protected by a flashing arrow rerouting traffic.

It doesn't help that the truck holding the arrow is making a horrific, droning noise -- the kind of din that makes you want to pull out a sledgehammer.

Then there's the utter irritation of knowing that this is another incomplete project sanctioned by Public Works chief George G. pTC Balog. Commuters want to know: When will this end?

Department spokesman Kurt Kocher said the job has not been finished as a "matter of efficiency."

Private contractors are hired by the city for the work and do it piecemeal, Kocher said. This saves money at City Hall -- but frays nerves everywhere else, your Intrepid One believes.

Consider the mess on Harford Road between Moravia Road and Chesterfield Avenue. Public Works began to resurface that area in late July, and the job is still incomplete. Hundreds of daily commuters -- and parents of students at St. Francis of Assisi School -- have had to deal with the annoying orange barrels blocking lanes for months, with no workers in sight.

"The contractor has several contracts at once and does one thing in a general geographic area and then does others in other areas," Kocher said. "It's a more cost-effective way of doing things."

Maybe Public Works should rethink its process in the interest of traffic flow.

Harbor Tunnel woes inspire DJs to write song

MIX 106.5 FM morning jocks Jojo and Kenny have cooked up a number that describes the fraying of nerves while trying to navigate the Harbor Tunnel, half-closed in both directions for resurfacing.

Intrepid asked for a copy of the song, and J&K obliged, addressed to the "News Gods" -- (next time, though guys, make it Goddess).

To the tune of "Signs":

"And the sign said Harbor Tunnel, single lane, under repair

So I jumped in my car and I turned around, pounded the steering wheel and started to swear

I think I need to find me some kind of detour, I hope I do

But when I finally arrived I saw the other drivers

Poundin' steering wheels and swearin' too

Oh signs, signs detour signs

Harbor Tunnel work is gonna take a long time

Drive here, don't drive there

Can't you read the signs?

Now hey there mister can't ya see

To get across the Harbor takes at least a week

You'd better pack a lunch and bring a book to read

You don't know long you'll be here

The sign says you're better off to sleep in your car and stay downtown

HUH!

Keep in touch

You can mail, send by fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:

Mail letters -- The Sun, 1300 Bellona Ave., Lutherville 21093.

Fax line -- 410-494-2916.

Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 410-783-1800, enter Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 9/29/97

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