City that Reads has some spelling issues


January 16, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- There's an urban legend that years ago a Baltimore police officer once dragged a dead horse off Auchentoroly Terrace because he couldn't spell the name of the street for his report. He moved the carcass to a street with a simpler name and listed that site instead. At least he cared that he got it right for his report. Government officials of today can't always spell Charles Street correctly, and someone somewhere decided that the lane called "Cold Spring" should be compacted into one word. THE BACKSTORY -- Rick Vaeth of Pikesville says he first noticed a sign on the platform at the Charles Center Metro station in 1995 or 1996: "Stairs to Charlers St." He says he repeatedly complained about the misspelling of one of Baltimore's major thoroughfares, but more than a decade later, it still hasn't been fixed. "It's embarrassing," said Vaeth, who used to crunch numbers for the State Department of Education. "Being a data person, I'm kind of anal about things like this. This annoyed me to no end."

In an e-mail to Watchdog, Vaeth noted that "most people who use the Metro on a regular basis know where they're going and don't look up at the signs. But there ARE visitors to Baltimore. What must they think?" Playing off an old Baltimore slogan, Vaeth wrote: "The city that reads but apparently can't spell."

Cheron Wicker, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transit Administration, could offer no explanation as to how the sign was put up with the misspelling. "We are getting ready to fix it," she said.

There are errors elsewhere as well. An overhead sign on Roland Avenue misspells a major cross street, Cold Spring Lane, as "COLDSPRING." The smaller signs on street poles, including several at the same intersection, spell it correctly. David Brown, a spokesman for Baltimore's Department of Transportation, said the sign will be changed.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- The Cold Spring Lane sign is the responsibility of Linda P. Hooper, sign shop superintendent at the Baltimore Department of Transportation, 410-396-7557. City residents can also call 311. The Charles Street sign in the Metro station is the responsibility of Ralign Wells, director of Metro Operations, 410-454-7351. People can also call customer service at 410-539-5000.


About half of the nine malfunctioning lamps outside the Charles Center Metro station have been repaired since Jan. 2, Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Cheron Wicker reported. She said the others belong to the city, but that MTA crews will replace all the burned-out bulbs. Any other repairs needed, such as wiring issues, will have to be done later by the city. Also, Wicker said that more lights will be added to the station's main entrance this week. "It's going to be real bright," she said.

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