State Digest


May 20, 2006

Safety steps taken for Bay Bridge

Last year, Maryland officials urged summer travelers to "Go Early, Stay Late" when visiting the Eastern Shore to reduce traffic congestion. This year, state traffic planners have a new message for motorists on the Bay Bridge: Go early, stay late and stop tailgating.

The Maryland Transportation Authority yesterday announced a new summer traffic experiment for the bridge, which routinely backs up on the Western Shore before a toll booth and the 4-mile bridge to Kent Island.

The new push -- called "Pace Your Space" -- will see hot pink markers installed every 200 feet at the ends of the eastbound bridge and an admonition for drivers to keep that distance between themselves and the car they follow.

The decision to put 96 pink rectangles on the sides of the bridge came from brainstorming sessions about how to reduce fender-benders.

Studies showed the worst area of the bridge for accidents was just past the toll booths headed east, a fender-bender hot spot because so many drivers turn to look at the Chesapeake Bay off the bridge's first curve.

"Most of the accidents happen there because of the view," Trent Kittleman, the authority's executive secretary, said yesterday. "It's a great view, and if you're far enough back, you'll be able to look at it."

Kittleman said that traffic studies showed that 70 percent of rear-end collisions happened on the eastbound span.

The pink markers will be up by June, along with signs telling drivers to keep two pink markers between them and the car in front. Cars headed east over the bridge should pass markers at the same time if they travel at 50 mph.

State traffic planners anticipate a slight increase in bridge traffic this Memorial Day weekend, predicting 324,000 vehicles on the eastbound span from Thursday to Monday. That's up 3 percent from last year.

Kittleman said engineers weren't sure what travel would look like the rest of the summer, noting the high price of gasoline.


Chevy Chase

Bushes to attend Steele event

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele was due to pick up some campaign cash last night courtesy of former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who were to attend a fundraiser for Steele at a home in Chevy Chase.

The event was the latest in a string of fundraisers for Steele to be headlined by GOP heavyweights -- a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the Maryland Democratic Party. Democrats have repeatedly criticized Steele, a candidate for U.S. Senate, for being too cozy with the Bush administration.

"Despite losing Maryland three out of four times by a combined 873,389 votes, America's Bush dynasty isn't giving up!" state party press secretary Artie Harris said in a statement.

Among those in the administration who have held events for Steele are President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Karl Rove. During a fall fete in Baltimore, the president helped Steele collect about $500,000. With Rove's help, Steele took in about $75,000 last summer.

Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Steele's campaign, would not say how much Steele expected to raise last night.

Maryland Republican Party spokeswoman Audra Miller said Steele needs the money to battle the Democrats vying for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat. "The support will be necessary to fight the attacks and smear funded by Ben Cardin's special interest friends," Miller said.



Rabbi charged in child sex case

A rabbi was charged with traveling across state lines to engage in sex acts with a 13-year-old boy after being caught in a nationally televised sting operation.

David Kaye, 56, of Rockville made an initial appearance yesterday in federal court in Virginia on charges of coercion and enticement and travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual contact with a minor. He was detained pending a detention hearing Monday.

Kaye did not speak during yesterday's hearing and his lawyer declined to comment.

Kaye resigned from his position as vice president of Rockville-based PANIM: the Institute for Jewish Leaders and Values, in the wake of the sting.

In November, NBC's Dateline program ran a sting operation in Northern Virginia in conjunction with an Internet watchdog group called Perverted Justice. Kaye was one of 19 people who showed up at a Herndon, Va., home after chatting online with individuals they believed to be underage boys and girls.

Prosecutors say Kaye used an Internet chat room to entice what he thought was a 13-year-old boy into meeting him and engaging in illegal sexual activity. Kaye traveled from Rockville to Herndon on Aug. 17 to meet the boy, but when he showed up at the home he was confronted by a television reporter and camera crew, authorities say.


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