Pedestrians left stranded on the island

WATCHDOG

February 13, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- A crosswalk that traverses a small street near Light Street and Key Highway at the top of Federal Hill strands pedestrians on a grassy median.

THE BACKSTORY -- It is the crosswalk to nowhere. The white stripes guide pedestrians from Light Street south across Hughes Street, but don't give them anyplace else to go. If you follow the city's designated path, you'll end up on a triangular-shaped median with neatly trimmed shrubs and close-cut grass.

The plot has no sidewalk, and pedestrians have to walk across the grass, through the bushes and across another small street to continue walking south on Light Street. David Brown, a spokesman for Baltimore's Department of Transportation, said of the crosswalk: "It should not be there."

Brown said the city has considered putting a sidewalk on the median, but for now will simply move the crosswalk 75 feet west. He said the changes should be completed within 90 days.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Linda P. Hooper, sign shop superintendent at the city Department of Transportation, which also oversees crosswalks, 410-396-7557.

Watchdog noted that on Feb. 3, a city police station had its flag flying at half-staff while a fire station next door had it at full staff, even though the 30-day mourning period for former President Gerald R. Ford had ended Jan. 24. A week later, the flag-flying situation in the city remains confused.

Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered flags to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Feb. 5 to honor a local soldier killed in Iraq. But the flag between the two Baltimore Circuit Courthouses on North Calvert Street remained at half-staff on the subsequent three days for no apparent reason.

Yesterday, O'Malley ordered the Maryland state flag to half-staff until after the funeral of a firefighter cadet who died in a training exercise last week.

But a lunchtime stroll downtown yesterday revealed the state flag at full staff at City Hall, the circuit courthouse and police headquarters. The Fire Department had no flag flying at its headquarters on East Fayette Street, but its main entrance and the doorway to City Hall were draped in black bunting. Both the American and Maryland flags were at full-staff in front of The Sun building on North Calvert Street.

For a complete list of when flags should be flown at half-staff, either per orders of the Maryland governor or the U.S. president, go to the Web site of Maryland's secretary of state: www.sos.state.md.us/Services/Halfstaff.htm.

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