Baltimore County News
Says Governor is not factually correct
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz responded to a form letter that he received last week threatening the completion of transportation projects in the County. The full text of the County Executive’s response is below:
Dear Governor Hogan,
I am in receipt of your form letter of February 2, 2017, seeking support of a repeal of the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Act. Your attachment asserts that the Act will result in the cancellation of six transportation projects in Baltimore County, five of which involve major improvements to the Baltimore Beltway. I am dismayed that you continue to assert a position that is not factually correct.
As you are aware, the plain language of the Act states: "nothing in this Act may be construed to prohibit or prevent the funding of the capital transportation priorities in each jurisdiction." The law simply requires the Governor to provide an advisory scoring process, letting the public understand how decisions are made when road projects are funded. The law even allowed your office to create the scoring mechanism.
I've previously requested that your Administration provide the data behind your scoring calculations. Since you still refuse to provide that data, I can only assume that the "scores" are simply a scare tactic. I urge you to inform us of the real reasons why you believe there would be a shortfall of transportation funds to complete the needed Beltway improvements. In the meantime, my constituents still remain stuck in traffic.
Very truly yours,
Baltimore County Executive
c: Honorable Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House
Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Senate President
Detour routes will be posted through nearby Crondall Lane
The Department of Public Works will close a portion of Gwynnbrook Avenue, between Owings Mills Boulevard and Garrison Forest Road, on Wednesday, December 21, due to structural concerns related to a bridge over a tributary to Gwynns Falls. A detour route will be posted and traffic will be channeled through nearby Crondall Lane. Baltimore County’s traffic engineers have adjusted traffic signal timing to accommodate the new traffic pattern, but some congestion should be anticipated at the Crondall Lane intersections with Owings Mills Boulevard and Garrison Forest Road.
This emergency bridge closure follows several recent inspections of the twenty-three foot long span. The concrete-slab structure – built in 1920, widened in the 1950’s and carrying about 7,000 cars daily – has been declining in recent years. Last year Baltimore County’s two-year bridge inspection cycle was accelerated and the bridge was monitored every three months.
Public Works engineers will be finalizing the design plans and final schedule, pending state approval of a right of way agreement. All options are being considered to minimize impact to the travelling public.
Web feature enables residents to report issues directly to emergency managers
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that County residents will have a direct line to communicate storm-related concerns to the County’s emergency managers beginning this winter season. He made the announcement during the County’s annual winter storm exercise in the Emergency Operations Center, where representatives from County agencies and regional partners work together to coordinate the County’s response to a hypothetical severe winter storm.
After last January’s record-breaking snowfall and extremely high call volumes that frustrated residents, County Executive Kamenetz directed County agencies to re-examine their constituent communication mechanisms for severe storm situations. At this morning’s press briefing, he announced Stormfighter, a new interactive web-based storm reporting feature on the County website that allows residents to self-report storm-related issues, rather than phoning the Department of Public Works (DPW). This system integrates with GIS mapping applications and provides real-time visual map-based data to assist DPW and emergency managers in responding to severe storms or other localized or regional emergencies.
“We know how frustrating it is to be unable to get through on the phone, so our award-winning Office of Information Technology has created a new web feature that is very user-friendly and is the best way to communicate with us in case of a major storm,” said Kamenetz. “When we experience very heavy snowfalls, it is important that we communicate realistic expectations to our residents that it can take many days until crews can move from the main roads and get into the neighborhood streets.”
In addition, Kamenetz announced that the County has upgraded DPW’s phone system to greatly expand the number of callers held in the queue and to enable quick mobilization of call-takers to respond to any need with little advance notice. The phone system includes a function that will advise callers of their estimated wait time to speak with someone and will invite them to submit their concerns on the website instead of waiting on hold. Kamenetz explained that the new web-based reporting form available to the public is the same form as County call-takers will use to input callers’ concerns.
County officials remind residents that in cases of true medical or other emergencies, they should always call 911. During major storm emergencies, first responders coordinate with DPW and other resources to continue responding to fires, urgent medical needs and other emergency situations.
Real-time updates available on the County’s website and social media platforms
Kamenetz also encouraged people to go to Twitter or the County website for Stormfighter updates. The County website offers the latest on road conditions, current plowing operations, winter storm tips and more at baltimorecountymd.gov/storm, which also includes Twitter updates from Baltimore County Emergency Management. These updates are also available on Twitter by using the Twitter handle, @bacoemergency.
The County Stormfighter web page now provides a link to live traffic camera feeds from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART). It also offers a link to the County’s list of road closures, which provides details on roads that are currently closed due to repairs, accidents, weather or other hazards. This list is updated frequently, so people are advised to check back often for the latest status. State roads and interstates are not included. Information on those roads can be found on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.md.gov/TravInfo/Default.aspx.
“The really big snowstorms can try all of our patience, and I am pleased that the County is taking these positive steps to better facilitate communication with our constituents during storm emergencies,” said County Council Chair Vicki Almond.