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Your Baltimore questions, answered — on everything from the Orioles to the Jones Falls

The Baltimore Sun has launched a new project where we tell stories inspired by your curiosity. Ask us anything.

As part of a series of occasional stories inspired by readers’ curiosity, we asked: What have you always wanted to know about Baltimore.

Our first article in the series explores just what exactly is in the Inner Harbor. But some of your questions have been answered in The Baltimore Sun’s previous reporting. Here’s a sampling of questions we’ve answered in past coverage.

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Whatever happened to Henrietta Lacks’ family? Did they ever get compensated for Henrietta Lacks’ contribution to modern medicine?

No, the Lacks were never compensated financially by the institutions that used the cells.

The National Institutes of Health reached an agreement with Lacks' family that requires scientists to get permission from the agency to use her genome, or genetic blueprint, The Baltimore Sun’s Andrea Walker reported in 2013. One of Lacks’ grandsons and a great-granddaughter sit on the working group that helps make the decision.

"The main goal was science and being part of the conversation," said David Lacks Jr., Lacks’ grandson.

However, in February 2017, Lacks’ eldest son, Lawrence Lacks, said that he is the executor of his mother’s estate and that the NIH agreement was invalid.

The Lacks family has also been divided over Henrietta’s legacy — in particular surrounding the 2017 HBO movie "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" starring Oprah Winfrey.

Please investigate when the stadium leases are up for both the O’s and Ravens and the likelihood that one or both will leave town.

The Orioles’ lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority to play at Camden Yards expires in 2021 and provides the team an option to extend for five years, The Sun’s Jeff Barker reported in 2016.

While the Orioles are beginning another team rebuild amid a long-running dispute with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals over the revenue split from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the team leaving Baltimore is unlikely, according to columnist Peter Schmuck.

The Ravens have a 30-year lease on M&T Bank Stadium, which is up in 2027.

Why haven't streams in Baltimore city been unpaved? The economic value of river front property leading to downtown would be tremendous.

Much of the polluted Jones Falls, a historic stream that at one time drew feeding dolphins and was navigable as far north as Calvert and Lexington streets, now is covered or bordered by its namesake expressway.

The Jones Fall Expressway/Interstate 83 was built along the Pennsylvania Railroad line and elevated above the stream to avoid disrupting industry in the Jones Falls Valley.

While some, including City Councilman Ryan Dorsey, support knocking down the freeway and uncovering the stream, cost would likely be an issue. Removing the elevated stretch between Chase and Fayette streets alone would have cost an estimated $1 billion, according to a 2009 Baltimore Sun article.

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Why hasn't the lottery helped fund Baltimore Schools?

While Maryland’s casinos have pumped more than $1.7 billion into the state’s Education Trust Fund, the new revenue stream allowed lawmakers to use money that once went to schools and redirect it to pay salaries, fund roadwork and support and support other programs. However, in the 2018 General Election, Maryland voters approved a referendum creating a casino “lockbox” that would require gambling revenues to be added to local public school systems, on top of current minimum funding requirements.

Who has responsibility for Route 295 from the City to the Baltimore County line? Why are the potholes never fixed or trash addressed?

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is responsible for the city portion of the roadway, and the National Park Service is responsible for the rest. For those concerned about the potholes, help is on the way: Amid pressure from lawmakers to address them, the Park Service is beginning repairs this spring.

Who shut down public transportation during the riot?

Unclear. We would love to know, and we’ve asked, but no one has acknowledged having given the order. The Maryland Transportation Administration claims even showing footage or stills of the riot to a reporter would jeopardize security by revealing the location of the Mondawmin Station cameras.

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