Resurfacing comments steam city department Retort: Official offers sharp reply to your wheelster's observation that repaving often creates long-term headaches for drivers.

Intrepid Commuter

October 06, 1997

LAST WEEK, your Intrepid One highlighted a problematic approach to the way some city roads are resurfaced, pointing out that work crews take months to complete jobs.

That observation caused quite a stir at City Hall. Department of Public Works spokesman Kurt L. Kocher called to vent -- and his voice mail message was so hot it nearly melted the phone line.

Kocher takes issue with Intrepid's view that working on road resurfacing projects in a piecemeal fashion ties up commuters for months, as is the case on West Cold Spring Lane, 25th Street and Harford Road from Erdman to Chesterfield avenues. He even threatened not to answer future questions from your wheelster unless they are submitted in writing.

"The resurfacing is done in terms of cost savings; there may be a little inconvenience there," Kocher said. "I think inconvenience is worth it."

Intrepid heard from numerous commuters last week on the issue of the lingering road resurfacing process citywide.

One caller to Intrepid's hot line, who left no name, called it a "sloppy operation" and blamed DPW chief George G. Balog.

"What is the advantage of having a financial [savings] when they're going to do it when they get around to doing it?" another asked, pointing out that all four lanes of 25th Street west of St. Paul Street have been undergoing resurfacing for more than a month.

A caller also cited incomplete projects on 32nd and 30th streets in Charles Village, but Intrepid found that those locations were repaved last week -- with the stretch of Harford Road from Erdman to Chesterfield avenues.

Pierce J. Flanigan III, owner of P. Flanigan and Sons Inc., which has $17.5 million in DPW road resurfacing contracts outstanding, also contacted Intrepid.

"Our crews take great pride in finishing work promptly, with high quality and with no unnecessary inconvenience to the public. We have never walked away from a job," Flanigan wrote in a Sept. 30 letter.

In an phone interview, Flanigan said most city contracts allow 180 days -- six months -- for resurfacing. "It's more economical for us to do these jobs quickly."

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes Flanigan's crews to finish Homeland Avenue, a nearly mile-long stretch closed last week for resurfacing. It is expected to be complete next spring. The clock is ticking.

Tales from the treadmill? You got them; we want them

Intrepid One is seeking stories about the dynamometer -- the treadmill emissions test now mandatory for nearly all vehicles registered in Maryland. Reports may be made by calling 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305 (from Anne Arundel County, 410-268-7736). Stories may be published.

Quell your road rage with a good book

As road rage spreads across the nation, publishers Simon & Schuster, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Harper Collins and Random House have weighed in with a solution to calm commuters: audio books.

And did you know, dear drivers, that this is Audiobook Month?

The publishers have established a Web site with information about audio books at www.areyoulistening.com. A toll-free number, 1-888-AUDIO-99, has also been established to air samples of recorded books.

The publishers say 12 percent of U.S. households used audio books in the past year, and sales for the taped tomes topped $1.5 billion in 1995. Most of the books are played in vehicles, research shows. Two-thirds of listeners are female, and the average age of listeners is 45.

Among current New York Times best sellers for the listening: "High Tide in Tucson" by Barbara Kingsolver and "It Takes a Village" by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Enjoy the ride.

Shortcuts

Don't even think about parking in a space reserved for disabled drivers. Not only is it a no-no ethically, the city fine just rose to $202. Additional costs of $119 for towing, storage and administrative fees will make it a very costly boo-boo. Prepare for the Columbus Day parade in the Inner Harbor area Sunday. Beginning at 1 p.m. traffic and parking will be limited around Harborplace and Little Italy.

Pub Date: 10/06/97

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