Rip-off in White Marsh Security: Two O's fans learned that the park-and-ride lot was not patrolled during the game.

Intrepid Commuter

November 03, 1997

AS IF IT wasn't bad enough for Ron Levy and his son, Ben, to see the Orioles lose the pennant in extra innings at Camden Yards on Oct. 15, wait until you hear what happened when they returned to the Mass Transit Administration's Park and Ride lot in White Marsh.

"Gone," is how Levy described the doors of his son's Jeep Wrangler, ripped off their hinges and stolen from the lot during the game. Also missing was a compact disc player, compact discs and the face plate for the dashboard radio. The rest of the radio was intact.

"Figure that out," said Levy, an engineer who lives in Bel Air.

Stunned by the theft, Levy and his son waited for nearly an hour for the arrival of MTA police, dispatched from their office in downtown Baltimore to record the incident that caused $4,000 damage to the Jeep, Levy said.

The next day, when Levy called MTA to ask whether the lot in a remote corner of White Marsh Mall was patrolled by agency police, "I discovered there is no security patrol on that lot. The MTA police are responsible for it, but two officers told me they don't patrol it as a general rule. They said they may send a motorcycle occasionally to check on the lot."

Amateur sleuth Levy found that Baltimore County police sometimes patrol the lot. But a rash of armed robberies in the White Marsh area kept them busy that night, Levy said.

Anthony Brown, MTA spokesman, had a different story.

Brown said the agency's police patrol the lot once each morning, and Brown urged commuters to call the central complaint line at 410-333-1971 to report problems.

But that is of little consequence to Levy, who vowed not to use the lot again unless MTA dispatches a guard there permanently.

In the meantime, he has turned philosophical about the incident, while 16-year-old Ben is upset.

"It's a car and a CD player -- we'll replace it," Levy said. "My son is angry. He feels violated."

Intrepid wonders if any other commuters have experienced problems at White Marsh or other MTA park-and-ride lots. Call 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305 to report any woes. Stories may be published.

Light at the end of the Harbor Tunnel

One caller fumed to your wheelster last week on the topic of construction at the Harbor Tunnel.

"Why in the world did the powers that be or the people that have the authority to begin construction on the Harbor Tunnel decide to do it in the early fall when everyone goes back to school and everyone goes back to work?" the anonymous commuter asked. "The traffic was about 30 percent lighter in the summertime. We just sat in an hour-and-a-half backup at the Harbor Tunnel on Friday afternoon wasting thousands and thousands of people's time."

Dear drivers, here is the lowdown from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA), the state agency responsible for Harbor Tunnel repairs, which may be reached at 410-288-8400: Work is expected to be completed by Nov. 21, the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The repairs -- repaving the concrete ramps entering and exiting the tubes -- were needed after years of storm water eroded the surface of the ramps. The 1.5-mile tunnel, which opened in 1957, carries an average of 55,000 vehicles per day.

As for the backups -- and many have occurred -- MdTA spokeswoman Lori Vidil promised light at the end of this tunnel.

"We are on schedule," Vidil said. "It's been a major inconvenience to our customers, and we regret the inconvenience."

A new magic weapon against snow and ice

Not to rush the season or anything, but city bureaucrats outlined last week plans for coping with snowy conditions that include a Web site (www.396snow.com), a citizen's guide dedicated to snow emergencies and cable television coverage of wintry news.

But perhaps the hottest news for commuters this winter is the application of ICE BAN MAGic on many city streets.

The "magic" is a gooey substance that looks like a cross between corn syrup and coffee. Baltimore's streets will soon be coated with the stuff, a "pre-wetting" solution derived from magnesium chloride and corn byproducts.

Department of Public Works officials hope the substance will reduce the amount of salt needed on roads after a snow or ice storm by 40 to 60 percent, said spokesman Kurt L. Kocher.

City officials hope for money savings, reduced corrosion on vehicles and -- because the stuff is environmentally safe -- protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

Meanwhile, "the salt domes are filled, the plows are in excellent working condition and the personnel are trained and ready to go," crowed Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Added Public Works Director George G. Balog: "We are better prepared than ever."

Pub Date: 11/03/97

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