Watchdog: Fallen light pole stands again after months on side of I-83 ramp

Botched replacement of guardrail prolongs repair process, SHA says

April 09, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

The problem: A fallen street light pole remained on the side of a highway ramp off Interstate 83 at the Baltimore Beltway.

The back story: Fellow Sun reporter and Maryland Weather blogger Frank Roylance earned a Watchdog deputy star for spotting this week's featured problem.

Our Watchdog spy sounded the alarm about a light pole on the side of the ramp from southbound Interstate 83 onto the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway.

It seemed the pole had come down in a traffic collision. And it stayed down — for months. Some cones appeared a few weeks ago, but otherwise, it appeared undisturbed.

The light was not lying in the travel lane, but it was not far away from it, on the highway side of the guardrail, with the light arm resting against a sound barrier.

Roylance worried that if another vehicle swerved or somehow struck the pole again, the arm might swing down into traffic and onto cars.

Watchdog contacted the State Highway Administration, whose spokeswoman, Kellie Boulware, shed some light on the delay.

Both the pole and the guardrail were damaged in a crash, she said.

"When our crews went in to replace the guardrail, it was incorrectly aligned because of the sharp radius there, on that ramp," she said.

As a result, when crews came to raise the pole, they didn't have enough clearance, according to Boulware.

"Unfortunately, they didn't take that into account when they reinstalled the guardrail," she said. "They had to go back and reinstall it to make room for the pole to go up."

Crews were working on it Wednesday.

The SHA is responsible for maintenance of interstates, as well as numbered routes outside of Baltimore — but not toll areas such as bridges or tunnels, which fall under the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Residents who want to report nonemergency problems on or along state routes can call 800-323-MSHA during business hours. In this situation, the District 4 office, which covers Baltimore and Harford counties, would be the appropriate contact.

You can also report problems online via the SHA's request-for-service website, at marylandsha.force.com/customercare/request_for_service.

Who can fix this: David Peake, district engineer for the SHA's District 4 office. 410-229-2300.

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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