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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: bureau of highways

Erosion has Caused Safety Concerns

Baltimore County Department of Public Works closed a portion of Oakleigh Road today from Cromwell Bridge Road to Rushley Road. Oakleigh Road was made one-way in July 2013, and has had extensive erosion problems and was recently flagged by Public Works engineers as a potential safety issue.

Engineers now plan to review options during the closure, which they expect will have minimal impact on neighborhood egress and ingress.  

photo fo potholeJim Lathe
Chief, Bureau of Highways

From a road-maintenance perspective – and as Chief of the Bureau of Highways that’s my default perspective – March is not the month of endless TV basketball. Nor is it an opportunity for everyone to be an ersatz Irishman. It is (and rightfully should be) Pothole Month. It’s the time of the year when frozen roads begin to thaw and come apart. Axel-breaking cavities materialize out of nowhere. Fissures form. And an already irritable driving public, fed up with snow and cold, faces an obstacle course of holes and black-water chasms every morning behind the wheel. March is the month to fill those holes and bring order to the world.

The figures are not in yet, but Baltimore County road crews have probably filled twenty thousand potholes this month. Pothole professionals (and let’s give them their due) from eleven Baltimore County shops have been working every weekday – each shop filling about one hundred holes.

Their job is often dubbed a throw-and-go operation. They shovel a cold patch mix into the hole, filling it just above surface level (to allow for compaction) and then vanish. At the end of winter (early March) they begin the operation with cold patch and then move on to more durable hot mix as it becomes available with the onset of spring.

Pothole patching is a very big job. It varies from year to year. Almost seventy thousand holes were filled in 2001 and less than forty thousand in 2012, a relatively mild winter. I suspect that this winter will be closer to the top than the bottom. That, at least, is what March portends.

photo of woman shovelling snowJim Lathe
Chief of Highways

If you’re up at dawn to shovel your driveway on those deep-snow days, you’re not alone. And if, after you’ve shoveled the snow, you break out in a cold rage because a plow came along and pushed it all back where you started, you’re not alone either.

Snow happens.  And a little frustration is only natural – especially since you expect the County’s snow plow drivers to work with you, not against you. After all, they can see that you’ve just shoveled, can’t they?

The truth is, blocking driveways with mountains of snow and re-covering sidewalks you‘ve just shoveled has been a problem for plow drivers from time immemorial. As a driver for nine years, I know your problem and I’m sympathetic. But there’s simply no other way to “git ‘er done” except by plowing all the snow and ice to the curb. It’s better to push the snow onto a cleared driveway than to leave it in the road and it’s the only way to get the job done efficiently.

Your best bet is to shovel snow to the right side so that the plow pushes it away from your property. And, of course, never shovel snow into the street. The Department of Public Works asks that residents give snow plow drivers time to do their job before clearing driveways and walkways completely.

Remember, snow is everybody’s problem and everybody’s responsibility too. In Baltimore County we understand that homeowners have to do a lot of work to dig out of a heavy snow. And we, in turn, hope that residents understand that it takes a full twenty-four hours to clear a six-inch snowfall. So, please be patient; we’re all in this together!

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