Watchdog: updates on recent problems

September 18, 2010

This week, Watchdog shares some updates on recent troubles that remained unresolved.

Update: The construction of a culvert at North Charles Street has been completed, and a sturdy metal railing has been installed, according to the Baltimore public works department.

Longtime Watchdog readers may recall a concern about a flimsy fence on North Charles Street north of Cold Spring Lane.

The sidewalk gets plenty of traffic from students attending Loyola University of Maryland and visitors to the Evergreen Museum and Library, which is owned by Johns Hopkins University.

But on the east side of Charles Street, only a flimsy fence kept people from tumbling down a steep embankment — until recently.

The fence had been there for years while Baltimore public works officials worked to extend a culvert that carried the Stony Run, a Jones Falls tributary, under Charles Street. It was too short, and so the flowing water started to erode the hillside. Roots from wild plants, along with normal freezing patterns, also loosened stones in the supporting wall.

"Basically you were losing the sidewalk there, and potentially the roadway," said DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher.

After Watchdog called attention to the matter, Public Works crews worked to secure the lower portion, which could be pushed aside to allow someone to fall.

But now, the culvert has been extended and a metal fence has been erected, Kocher said. The $1.1 million project took about a year, he said.

"Everything is done, except for replanting trees on the slope," Kocher said. "That won't come until October sometime because of tree planting season."

That should help the soil stay put.

Update: The holes on a residential street in Northeast Baltimore have been filled — all of them.

The Holts contacted Watchdog after exhausting their other options. After street light repair, contractors left ugly blacktop patches on sidewalks of the 7600 block of Mars Avenue that eventually washed away. They reported the problem to Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., but got nowhere.

Watchdog contacted a BGE spokeswoman, who discovered that city transportation officials never got the message that a permanent repair was needed.

The utility sent workers to refill most of the holes temporarily, but they missed one — the deepest one.

But after the article was published, city workers showed up to make the permanent fix. Linda Holt was home, and alerted them of the remaining problem.

The hole was filled, she reported.

"That hole is now gone," she said. "It's safe for anyone to walk on."

— Liz F. Kay

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