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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: public works

Initial Survey Assessment to Begin in Late May

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that preliminary design work is underway to address years-old concerns about traffic congestion and pedestrian safety by widening the busy section of Windsor Mill Road between Woodlawn Drive and Featherbed Lane.

“This roadway is a major artery with heavy traffic and a lot of pedestrian activity,” said Kamenetz. “We have worked very closely with community leaders and elected officials to get to this point and we will continue this collaboration as this long-term solution makes its way through the process.” Kamenetz added that projects like this generally take several years to execute.

Project Details

Crews are expected to begin surveying work on Windsor Mill for about three weeks starting in late May. County Department of Public Works engineers indicate that preliminary design work will take several months to complete, after which officials will meet with residents to get their input on proposed improvements. The overall project is estimated to cost $3 million and will include road widening and sidewalks on both sides of the street along the two-thirds of a mile stretch.

“The road is too narrow, and there is no safe place for people to walk,” said 4th District Councilman Julian E. Jones Jr. “The community came to the County and presented its case very well and I am pleased that the County Executive is moving forward to correct these safety concerns.”

This portion of Windsor Mill Road is primarily residential, but it is at the crossroads of commercial and school traffic. Adding roadway widening, sidewalks, new curbs and gutters, and new storm drains will facilitate both vehicular and pedestrian movement.


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 baled plasticRashida White
Public Information Specialist, Recycling Division

“What happens to my recyclables after they are collected?”  I get this question from time to time. Many people consider the process of recycling as simply putting materials out for collection and expecting them to “disappear.” However, collection is only the first step in the recycling process.

The second step in the recycling process involves processing the recyclables and turning them into marketable products. How does this happen? Well, once collected, recyclables are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF – pronounced murf), where recyclables are placed on a series of conveyor belts and sorted multiple ways.  Sorting involves screens, magnets, air currents and also manual picking. After the material is separated by type, it is then baled and prepared for pickup or shipped to manufacturers. 

Recyclables are considered commodities – goods that can be sold at fluctuating prices. So, after leaving the MRF, these materials will be sold to local, regional, national and international businesses to become raw materials for new products. The materials end up in a manufacturing facility, where they are used as a substitute for virgin materials (paper for wood, aluminum cans for bauxite ore, plastics for oil, etc.).

Depending on the type of material and facility, a variety of new products are made. For example, new cans can be made out of recycled aluminum; pulverized glass can be used for a variety of construction projects; steel cans can be made into new steel cans or other steel products such as vehicles, appliances and construction material; and plastics, depending on the grade, can be made into products such as clothing, car parts, pipes, pails, lumber and pallets.

This leads to the third and final step in the recycling process, which is purchasing recycled products. Buying recycled products is a critical step for the overall recycling process because it creates and sustains a market demand for recyclables. The more recycled products consumers buy, the more manufacturers create products made from recycled materials. Without an adequate demand for recycled products, recycling would be ineffective.

So, if you have ever wondered what happens to your recyclables after collection, you may be buying them, wearing them and even driving them!


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