Road collapse could be just the beginning


May 01, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- A road in a Baltimore County development partially collapsed several months ago and has not yet been fixed.

THE BACKSTORY -- A bureaucrat's typical response to Watchdog is that the problem is being handled, will be completed quickly and, when examined objectively, really isn't a problem at all.

But David Fidler, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works, didn't try to minimize the dire situation on Ingate Road in Halethorpe.

"We've been concerned about it for some time," Fidler said. "It's a danger there. We are very concerned about the houses. ... This might be the tip of the iceberg."

Not exactly what Watchdog reader Kristin Kiehne wanted to hear. She wrote to complain that the road in front of her house "is no longer passable. It has been closed down since the beginning of March and absolutely nothing has been done to fix the problem."

Responded Fidler: "It's quite complicated."

The community was built in 1987 on land that used to be a sprawling mine, then was later filled in with loose soil. Ingate Road was built by the contractor, and it fell apart in 1990 and cost county taxpayers $100,000 to repair, Fidler said. Four years ago, three rowhouses had to be shored up to prevent them from collapsing.

Fidler said the county is now spending another $100,000 on a study of whether the road, the houses and even the neighborhood can be saved. They are awaiting the report. "We don't know whether the road can be repaired," he said. "There is a possibility that nothing can be done."

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Watchdog will let Public Works off the hook on this one. The fault appears to lie with the developer and county officials who signed off on the building permits. Public Works has inherited the problem. People with questions can contact the agency's engineering bureau: 410-887-3783.


After more than two weeks, a CSX spokesman finally got back to Watchdog regarding a gap in a section of fence protecting railroad tracks at the end of Charles Street in South Baltimore. A neighborhood group had complained that the opening is dangerous and attracts drug users.

Robert Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX, said the railroad is aware of the problem and has been working to fix it. He said the fence was repaired about six weeks ago and apparently was cut again. "Our folks will go out and see if more repairs need to be done," Sullivan said.

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