Key Bridge work costly

The Intrepid Commuter

Construction: State officials say additional traffic justifies $89.5 million tab for expanding ramps.

February 01, 1999

WHAT'S GOING ON with construction at the Key Bridge?

Commuter Ed Donnald wants to know.

"Why would they tear down that causeway and rebuild those two lanes?" he asked recently. "Perhaps you could do the math for me. How much does it cost to maintain the causeway for a year, vs. how much does it cost to tear down all that roadway, rebuild it on the ground and then maintain it for a year? My guess is that it will take many years to break even."

The project is expensive -- $89.5 million. But Maryland Transportation Authority officials say the need is great enough to justify using toll revenues to expand the ramps on Interstate 695 East near the Key Bridge because 28,000 vehicles pass through each day en route to Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.

Authority spokeswoman Elana Mezile said Friday that workers are rehabbing the original Bear Creek Bridge and are pouring concrete and building the shoulder of the new 3.6-mile, four-lane road.

"It's moving smoothly," Mezile reported, adding that work should be completed in November.

Drivers make the rounds at Taneytown roundabout

Round and round we go.

After nearly 18 months, Taneytown's rotary -- built to stem serious accidents at Route 140, East Baltimore Street, Antrim Boulevard and Old Taneytown Pike -- is drawing mixed reactions in Carroll County.

The breakdown: Commuters generally hate it, but police love it.

Since August 1997, four fender benders have occurred at the roundabout, said Lt. Gregory Woelfel of the Taneytown police. Only one involved a personal injury.

In comparison, police logged 24 serious accidents at the intersection in the 18 months before the rotary was installed and a flashing red traffic signal ruled the intersection.

Taneytown's Susan Belt, 33, who commutes to Westminster, navigates the roundabout daily, during rush hours.

"I don't like it," she said. "Traffic moved better with the blinking light. Now, in the evening, traffic going on Route 140 backs up to the Big Pipe Creek Bridge."

Howard County also has a roundabout-related concern.

Commuter Ron Ward frets that the Route 104 exit off the newly opened section of Route 100 is a safety hazard.

He says it's difficult to see vehicles coming from the south because of a traffic circle off the exit.

But Valerie Burnette Edgar, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration, says the agency has received scant other complaints about the roundabout -- or about visibility. Edgar said an engineer has investigated and determined that the sight distance is good.

Identifying hot spots for city red-light runners

As Baltimore's Department of Public Works officials sit poised to place cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners, Intrepid wonders where the candid lenses should roost.

Submit nominations for the hands-down, worst red-light-running crossroads in the city by calling 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305, or by wire at Intrepid@Baltsun.com. Give your name and opinion on the hot spot for a column on this predicament.

Shortcuts

Look for changes this year at the oh-so-dangerous Hampden intersection of Falls Road at Chestnut Avenue. That's where a sharp S-curve and slippery conditions when wet have made driving monstrous, prompting the locals to keep a running count of wrecks -- more than 50 last year. City Public Works officials said last week they plan to add a coat of nonskid asphalt to the road surface ASAP. Those unadorable crash dummies Vince and Larry used in driver safety advertisements by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are going into semiretirement. The agency last week decided new ads will show graphic crash details. The new campaign focuses on the casual belt-wearer -- someone who is not against buckling up, but who does not do so on every trip. Baltimore County schools Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione's proposed $681 million operating budget includes good news for the youngest commuters. The chief proposes spending $2.3 million to replace 40 of the county's aging school buses and buy 14 more. The new wheels will tackle smaller bus routes, making it a shorter ride for students in mornings and afternoons. Anne Arundel County commuters might get relief along clogged Mountain Road next year. State Highway Administration officials are constructing a flexible lane system that would add an additional lane of traffic depending on rush-hour flow.

Pub Date: 2/01/99

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