Morning traffic to get new turn Device: A new traffic light is under wraps at Cold Spring Lane and Grand View Avenue. When the left-turn signal is put into operation, it should help alleviate rush hour snarls.

The Intrepid Commuter

September 28, 1998

TOM REYNOLDS CALLED Intrepid last week to blow off steam about his morning commute.

His route is Cold Spring Lane, where he turns south onto Grand View Avenue in an attempt to cut through to lovely Hampden, hon.

And that's the catch.

"It seems I always get behind a Starbucks-toting, minivan-driving housewife," he ranted, adding, "I hope you're not one of them."

A closer look shows that Reynolds gets wrapped up in the morning school traffic that plagues many Baltimore-area streets during the pre-8 a.m. rush hour. No doubt about it -- such travel is unpleasant, with or without your java.

In particular, Reynolds has been haunted by a new traffic device at Cold Spring and Grand View that has not been activated by city fathers. Why, he wondered, isn't the new left-turn signal in operation making life oh-so much easier to deal with?

Kurt L. Kocher, city Department of Public Works spokesman, said the turn signal is part of a plan for the intersection that involves a redesign of traffic flow there by using new signalization.

Only it seems that here, as in other places in the city, things take a long time.

The signal, sitting idle and wrapped in a black plastic bag since spring, will be activated by the end of the month, Kocher promised. Then, drivers will be able to weave through tiny Medfield en route to Hampden with greater ease and, hopefully, a sense of brotherly love.

Officials need to bridge gap to replace washed-out span

Wonder when you'll be able to get out of Columbia on South Entrance Road?

Don't hold your breath.

Howard County officials say the logjam created by a washed-out bridge on the road that connects Route 29 to Little Patuxent Parkway near The Mall in Columbia is a problem to be solved by the turn of the century.

It seems there's a bureaucratic squabble afoot. The state-owned bridge washed out in November 1996, but state and local highway administration officials have not finalized how to split the cost of replacing the structure, estimated to be $347,000.

Official explanations aren't quite cutting it -- especially when you're sitting in gridlock. But here goes: The washed-out bridge "is forcing a lot of people to use the Broken Land Parkway. That is overloading the [traffic] signals," Ray Mercado, a transportation engineer for the State Highway Administration, explained. "They need a way out of Columbia."

To compensate, commuters are rerouting on nearby roads such as Broken Land, already congested during rush hour.

In all, it's a two-aspirin dilemma.

MTA marks machines for new $20 bills

Look for new features at vending machines owned by the Mass Transit Administration's light rail stations this week.

Those machines have been retrofitted to accept the redesigned, harder-to-counterfeit $20 bills entering circulation, spokesman Frank Fulton said. In all, 78 machines will be altered to accept the new bills that have a watermark in the shape of a portrait that's visible when the Andrew Jacksons are held up to a light.

Like the new $100 and $50 bills, the $20 bills have an embedded plastic security thread that glows under ultraviolet light -- red for $100, yellow for $50 and green for $20. Another added feature is a picture of the north side of the White House -- as opposed to the south side, which was on the old notes.

Fulton said MTA engineers retrofitted the machines at light rail only, because subway fare boxes accept only $5 and $1 bills. The MARC commuter train machines at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport station also have been changed, he added.

The Federal Reserve's 12 regional banks began circulating 2 billion new notes worth $40 billion last week. The old notes will remain legal tender, by the way, so don't burn 'em yet.

Officials posted at detour to put traffic back on track

Shortcuts: Look for city Department of Public Works to place officials near the O'Donnell Street bridge detour in East Baltimore to help break the gridlock there. It seems rerouted traffic is being held up by slow-moving trains that frequently stop commuters for up to 20 minutes. The human signalers will monitor the situation and wave cars to the alternate detour: Broening Highway to Keith Avenue to Clinton Street, Kocher said.

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, 109 Allegheny Ave., Towson 21204. E-mail: Intrepialtsun.com. 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: 9/28/98

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