A streetlight goes dark

WATCHDOG

Lamp on Ruxton Ave. that worked intermittently, sometimes staying off for days at a time, now stays lit all night long

October 19, 2008|By Liz F. Kay

The problem: A streetlight near Coppin State University stayed lit only intermittently.

The backstory : Sheila Carr wrote to Watchdog last month about a recurring problem.

A streetlight near her home in the 1700 block of Ruxton Ave. was dark all too often, she said. Sometimes it would light for only a few minutes; other times it was out for days.

"Some days it's on, and sometimes it's off," Carr said. "If you come home after dark, it just makes you feel very uncomfortable."

She and her neighbors had resorted to leaving their porch lights on at night to ward off drug dealers or homeless people.

"You don't want to feel like you're not safe in your own neighborhood," she said.

Carr first noticed the problem in the summer and as recently as Oct. 11. She said she called 311 multiple times to report it.

"They said someone from the city would be by ... to fix the problem," she said in an interview last week. "We haven't seen any difference."

Perhaps it was the power of suggestion.

A night crew from the city's Department of Transportation visited the light pole Tuesday and found it lit. So did a Baltimore Sun photographer. And it has remained lit after dark every night this week, Carr said.

Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said she could find only one service request for this location, from June 29. That request was abated June 30, she said.

"It shouldn't have been a problem and we haven't had any other complaints since then," she said.

The Transportation Department takes broken streetlights very seriously, checking the 311 system daily for reports, particularly for lights, Barnes said.

"That presents itself to be a danger, as the reader indicated," she said.

But the trip to Ruxton Avenue wasn't a waste for the Transportation Department crew. They replaced a bulb in the 1800 block instead, Barnes said.

Who can fix this : Richard Hooper, chief of maintenance for the city Department of Transportation, 410-396-1686. City residents can also call 311.

Liz F. Kay

update

About six months ago, Watchdog reported about how difficult it was to reach staff in the jury commissioner's office for Baltimore Circuit Court by telephone. Two readers had complained they shuttled through the phone tree, unable to leave a message or reach a live person to postpone their jury duty.

Now, however, additional phone lines are being installed in the jury commissioner's office as well as software to help monitor the number of calls and duration of wait time, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway said. The work should be completed this week, he said.

"The public is not being served when they don't answer the telephones," Conaway said.

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