Baltimore County Now
Keith Duerling, P.E.
Structures Division, Bureau of Engineering
Department of Public Works
Baltimore County has 675 bridges of all sizes – from major spans that carry thousands of cars each day, to culverts which are merely drain pipes allowing small streams to flow under roads. But whether the structures are big or small, they all deserve (and get!) the same careful, regular inspection which ensures the safety of the traveling public.
Baltimore County classifies its bridges by length: structures over 20 feet and structures under 20 feet. Bridges are inspected every two years by a qualified, engineering company. These consultants are selected by the Maryland State Highway Administration for Baltimore County and the cost of the inspections is borne by the Federal government. Bridges that are less than 20 feet are handled in much the same way, except that the County selects the bridge inspectors and the State of Maryland pays for 80% of the inspection cost.
During the inspection process, engineers assess the condition of (1) bridge decks (i.e. the travel surface), (2) the superstructure, (3) the substructure, (4) the condition of the structure exposed to rivers, streams and runs, and (5) the condition of culverts. Inspection is a hands-on exercise and crews visually take the spans apart looking for signs of aging, deterioration, cracks, structural movement or any telltale sign of wear and tear. On occasion, steel structures may require ultrasonic testing, but most of the examinations depend on engineering knowledge and experience. Potential problems are described and assessed in detailed written reports and any bridge with negative indicators is put on a repair or replacement schedule.
Bridge safety is of paramount importance in the County because the Department of Public Works and its engineers recognize that there are no second chances when it comes to bridge safety. Every traffic-bearing structure in Baltimore County is continuously monitored and rigorously inspected every two years. In short, structural problems are addressed well before they can impinge upon travel safety.
Lt. Steve Troutman, Baltimore County Police Crash Team Leader
Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz, Baltimore County Fire Department
Now that summer is here, people are getting out and about more. Sadly, the beautiful June weather means more people will be seriously hurt - or killed - just crossing the street.
It’s not usually who you think, or for the reasons you think…
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to pedestrian crashes. Most people tend to assume that the crash is caused by the person behind the wheel. That is normally NOT the case. Plus, it’s more often an adult rather than a child who is struck.
In fact, 80% of these incidents are actually caused by the pedestrian. Many of these fatal crashes are results of:
· Failure to walk in crosswalks or obey crosswalk signals
· Distracted walking
· Failure to look both ways
· Wearing dark clothing while walking at night
You might be even more surprised to know that 60% of those killed last year in pedestrian-vehicle crashes were over the age of 40. That’s right, we’re not just talking about distracted students or young children; most pedestrian infractions are committed by adults.
Tragically, in recent years, Baltimore County is experiencing a significant increase in the number of serious pedestrian crashes. Each year, the Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments respond to about 420 pedestrian-vehicle crashes - that’s more than one accident every day, on average! In 2013, the number of fatal crashes in Baltimore County increased more than in the last five years.
Though pedestrian related crashes are prevalent throughout Baltimore County, there are particular areas where rates are higher, such as Liberty Road in Randallstown, York Road in Towson, and Merritt Boulevard in Dundalk. Each of these areas has high volumes of traffic, which can result in greater chances of injury. There are also large numbers of pedestrian crashes near bus stops, as pedestrians can sometimes focus more on making the bus or rushing home than on their own safety.
With the drastic increase in pedestrian accidents in the last few years, Baltimore County is launching a “Heads Up! Walk Safe” public awareness campaign, focusing on four simple reminders:
· Obey the Law: always cross at a crosswalk or intersection
· Avoid Distractions: put away the cell phones and other electronic devices while crossing
· Be Visible: when walking or running at night, wear bright colors
· Be Aware: be mindful of your surroundings and know when a vehicle is approaching
Find out more on the County’s Walk Safe web page. On behalf of our fellow first responders, please walk safely and don’t be our next crash victim!
Edited by Justin Tucker, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
At the risk of giving away my age – I’ll start this blog with another paraphrased punch line from an old TV commercial…
This HOT Baltimore summer, “How do you spell relief?”
B-A-L-T-I-M-O-R-E- C-O-U-N-T-Y –P-A-R-K-S
It’s better than some old medicine – Your relief this summer comes in the form of the many beautiful waterfront parks that can be found throughout our County!
Now, if you are anything like me, your first instinctive response to “waterfront parks” might be, Rocky Point Beach and Oregon Ridge Beach. And, YES, you would be right! More on these incredible wet and wonderful places later on in this blog…
But did you know there are lots more waterfront parks in our County than many of us can even begin to imagine – who knew??
Waterfront Parks are, indeed, plentiful and offer so much more than a gentle breeze and beautiful views. We are talking shorelines, fishing, boat ramps, boat rentals (at one particular site) and of course, a variety of other amenities you will love on a hot summer day when you “seek the relief.” Pavilions, ball fields, playgrounds, trails, multipurpose courts – it is a long list of options for you at these waterfront havens!
Imagine, sitting on the shoreline looking out on the incredible Chesapeake Bay or one of its magnificent tributaries. Now, imagine a fishing pole in hand, with a cool drink by your side (are you getting the picture?!) Or, how about for you Mr. and Ms. Boat Owner – seven, count ‘em, seven boat ramps around the county at Cox’s Point, Inverness, Merritt Point , Rocky Point, Southwest Area, Turner Station and Wilson Point Parks. Imagine easing out onto the beautiful waters under the clear blue sky seeing magnificent birds flying above you and knowing the bounty of the bay or Patapsco is below you. Life is good, isn’t it!
Now, back to that fishing…how about doing it in another “jewel” of our County. The Loch Raven Fishing Center is just “luring” you to come on out (you took the “bait” on that one, didn’t you?!). Only a 2,400 acre reservoir stands between you and a large - or small - mouth bass, yellow perch, northern pike and a variety of other catches of the day. You need to know that docking and launch permits for the 2014 season are sold out (talk about your hot ticket!), but there is still the opportunity to rent a boat or canoe and all the fishing gear you will need for a few hours on the water. Your friends at Baltimore County Recreation and Parks want you to enjoy Loch Raven Fishing Center for all it is worth, be certain to read the above link for all of the important facility rules. If you have additional questions, give the good folks at the Fishing Center a call at 410-887-7692. This could be “reel” fun!
Of course, there’s always the chance to soak in some fine learning while relaxing near the water. Destinations like Marshy Point Nature Center feature protected environmental areas whose educational displays and programs emphasize the Chesapeake Bay and its ecosystem. Imagine your kids (and you!) learning something – and having a great time all the while!
Of course, the “big two” water front areas that folks associate with Baltimore County would be those beautiful beaches of ours – Rocky Point Beach and Park and Oregon Ridge Beach. Let’s skip the three, four or more hour jaunt down Route 50 and play the part of the beachcomber practically in your own back yard! Each beach features beautiful sites to see, lots of waterfront and the security and confidence in well trained guards.
The Baltimore Sailing Center is located at Rocky Point? Lessons are offered for individuals and groups. And over at Oregon Ridge Beach, there is shallow and deep water for swimming and all kinds of amenities to make your day at the beach a bundle of fun and pretty darned convenient to boot!
Here’s a sampling of some other waterfront fun awaiting you in Baltimore County Parks…
Robert E. Lee Park – canoeing and kayaking on Lake Roland
Fort Howard Park – Fishing and pier
Battle Grove Park - Shoreline
Inverness Park – Fishing and Boat Ramp
Merritt Point Park – Fishing and Boat Ramp
Turner Station Park – Fishing and Boat Ramp
Southwest Area Park – Boat ramp and Pier (access to the Patapsco River)
And in the name of “good times,” we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Gunpowder Falls State Park which is located in Baltimore County. Their telephone number is 410-592-2897.
So there you have it – it is a certainty that it is going to be hot and sticky this summer; and your wild and wet relief really can be spelled out B-A-L-T-I-M-O-R-E- -C-O-U-N-T-Y- -P-A-R-K-S. In the words of another old-time TV commercial – Oh, what a relief it is!!
By the way – Baltimore County Recreation and Parks office is proud to be honoring its earlier “guarantee” – there has not been one snow flake in the county since we made that promise way back in April! We kept that promise, now you have to believe our promise that our parks are a great option to beat the heat – and to have a great time!