Long-exposed hole along Roland Park street causes concern

Watchdog

  • The Baltimore Department of Public Works is fashioning a steel plate to cover this hole on the first block of Elmwood Road.
The Baltimore Department of Public Works is fashioning a steel… (Kim Hairston, Baltimore…)
April 11, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com

The problem: A damaged storm inlet remained uncovered in Roland Park for weeks.

The backstory: John Rockefeller was worried about his neighbors.

He first noticed a deep hole on Elmwood Road in Roland Park in mid-February, when the heavy snows forced him and others to walk instead of drive and to choose different routes to their destinations.

"The reason it was noticeable was because of all the snow and not all the sidewalks being shoveled, one had to walk in the street in order to go about the neighborhood," Rockefeller said.

"There were orange cones right by it, so there was some demarcation, but on more than one occasion, it had fallen down into the hole," he said.

Rockefeller was concerned people might inadvertently fall into the hole - if a young child wandered away, or if someone was unfamiliar with the street or parking their car at night.

He called 311 to report the problem. But after three calls, nothing had been done, so he wrote to Watchdog.

The hole was at least 6 square feet and about 10 feet deep, he described in an e-mail.

Officials with Baltimore's Department of Public Works agreed that the hole - a storm drain - needed to be covered.

Up until recently, DPW would cover holes like these with boards as a temporary solution or while work continued at a location.

But a few months ago officials determined that wood was not secure enough to cover openings such as these, because boards shift and can break when heavy vehicles drive over them. They decided to use steel plates that could be bolted to the road surface.

"Better security is the order of the day," said Public Works spokesman Kurt L. Kocher said.

But for smaller holes like this one, the steel plates needed to be cut to size, Kocher said.

"You want to have something that's going to fit around and not block the drain," he said.

So, in the meantime, they covered the hole with boards as a temporary fix until the plate was ready. That was scheduled to be installed Friday.

Rockefeller was glad to hear a fix was on its way.

"That's great - even a temporary one is better," he said.

Who can fix this: John Brewer, acting chief of maintenance, Baltimore Department of Public Works, 410-396-7870.

City residents should call 311 to report problems.

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