Curb cut across from Lyric is in disrepair

WATCH DOG

January 15, 2008

THE PROBLEM -- Crumbling or nonexistent curb cuts at crosswalks near the Lyric Opera House

THE BACKSTORY -- Sharon Matcuk had a lot of trouble getting to the Lyric Opera House to see Johnny Mathis last month.

A lifelong fan of the pop singer - she first saw him when she was a teenager - Matcuk and her husband parked in the lot near the Mount Royal Station building of Maryland Institute College of Art and had to cross Mount Royal Avenue to get to the theater.

But the Timonium resident has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair or scooter. Although there are several painted crosswalks, the sidewalks lack curb cuts, so her husband had to push her wheelchair in the street, dodging traffic.

"People [were] tooting their horns at me," said Matcuk, 59.

Then, at a tiny median in the middle of Mount Royal Avenue, directly across from the main doors of the Lyric, they encountered a cracked and crumbling curb cut. Matcuk said she ended up walking because she feared she would fall out of her chair.

"I said, `I'll get out because I think you're going to toss me out of this thing,'" Matcuk said.

A city Department of Transportation official did an inspection and confirmed that one curb cut is deteriorating, said department spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes. It will be repaired immediately, she said.

The department also identified 10 curb cuts in that area that need to be installed by the engineering and construction division, she said. One crosswalk meets the sidewalk at a storm drain, however, so it must be reconfigured by the traffic division before a curb cut can be put in.

Barnes said that winter weather could hamper the work, but finding money to pay for such projects is the biggest obstacle.

"We are aggressively seeking funding to make all of our curb cuts ADA-compliant," Barnes said, referring to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Richard Hooper, chief of the maintenance division, 410-396-1686, and Felicia Oliver, chief of the traffic division, 410.396.6905, both of the Baltimore Department of Transportation. City residents can also call 311 to report problems.

UPDATE

Last month, we wrote about Alexander D. Mitchell IV's quest to find a list of city parking violations and fines online. The city Transportation Department Web site now features a list of parking citations and a brochure about how drivers can avoid tickets. The information is posted under the "other resources" heading in the menu on the left side of the page at www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/transportation.

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