Gov. Robert Ehrlich broke ground yesterday on the Intercounty Connector - again.
For the third time since May, when the federal government signed off on the $2.4 billion road, the governor has picked up a shovel, tossed a little dirt and declared the long-stalled project - planned since before he was born - finally under way.
Perhaps the governor figured that, after more than 50 years of delays, long-suffering commuters didn't believe him the first or second time.
But Ehrlich is a busy guy. Especially with Election Day less than a month away. It's a wonder he has time to repeat himself. But he managed, zipping down to Montgomery County in between events in Timonium and downtown Baltimore.
And what did he get for all that effort? Nothing but grief from folks who don't want the road.
"This is Governor Ehrlich's third ICC public relations stunt in four months, all paid for by Maryland taxpayers," said Greg Smith of the Campaign to Stop the ICC.
None of the groundbreakings actually marked the beginning of highway construction, which isn't scheduled to start until spring. One kicked off a related project, to build a soccer field to replace one the road will displace. The other let everyone know that some trees will be planted as part of the deal. And yesterday? That celebrated the start of work on a "geotechnical staging area," a spot where trailers will be set up for ICC engineers to analyze soil samples and design their bridges and culverts accordingly.
What governor would let the launch of a geotechnical staging area pass without a little hoopla?
Marathon political mileage
Speaking of politics in transportation, the MTA keeps rolling along with its effort to turn the Baltimore Marathon into an issue in the governor's race.
Last week, Transportation Secretary Bob Flanagan criticized Martin O'Malley because the race will disrupt buses and Mobility services for the disabled. (Marathon director Lee Corrigan has said MTA reps have been at every organizational meeting since the race began six years ago and never made a peep about the route until a couple of weeks ago.)
Yesterday, the MTA ran an ad in The Examiner that didn't just alert riders to street closings, but made sure they knew the closings would come courtesy of "Baltimore City government."
"On October 14th, while hundreds of marathoners will be running," the ad began, "you'll be crawling."
The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association countered with an e-mail acknowledging that the event will impact "your routine for a few hours on a fall Saturday." The message also notes that the race and a related festival have, over the years, pumped $29 million into the economy and $2 million into charities.
Dog tale ends with a wag
Pancake, a terrier mix who chases rats and frequents Turner's Bar in Federal Hill, was reunited with her owners yesterday after a photo of the dog ran in Thursday's edition of The Sun with Lynn Anderson's article on changes at the city's animal shelter.
Owners Jim and Donna Turner, who run the popular city watering hole, told Anderson that they spotted the photo of their pooch yesterday morning on Page 2A. (She was named Lisa by shelter volunteers.)
"I nearly fell off the couch," said Jim Turner, who said he and his wife had given up finding Pancake after she ran out their front door two months ago.
The couple went to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter and were reunited with Pancake - so named because she has a flapjack-sized spot on her side, and because it sounds neat to call her Pancake Turner.