Susan Clark, tired of commuting from Jarrettsville into the city every day, observes and inquires: "Every day I pass by the Warren Road park-and-ride in Cockeysville. Is it being used? I never see any cars; maybe one or two at most. I've never seen any buses, and I would like to know if I have any options of getting downtown other than driving."
Susan, here's Christmas in April.
Coming to this very site soon, you'll find a new light rail station.
That's right, you'll never have to grind your teeth again on the JFX with this shiny new big-budget transportation improvement. The 350-space park-and-ride lot, built in conjunction with the new Warren Road-Interstate 83 interchange, is to become a parking lot for the Hunt Valley light rail station in a future incarnation. At last report, Mass Transit Administration officials expected to open the station in about two years.
Until then, you can use it for car pooling into town, or perhaps as a safe place to teach your teen-ager the art of parallel parking.
This observation from an alert driver named Matt: "As vehicles approach a tollbooth to pay, they're pared down in single lanes and forced to stop and start again, allowing much time for oil deposits [to collect]. This presents a hazard to motorcyclists passing through, and I wonder if the state couldn't possibly clean these oil deposits off the road that appear to be very thick, at least at the Fort McHenry Tunnel tollbooth."
What you've missed here, Matt, is State Highway Administration maintenance crews using a cleaning machine to scrub the toll lanes with a water and degreasing solution every four to six weeks.
But that's hardly enough at the Fort McHenry Tunnel, acknowledges Maryland Transportation Authority spokeswoman Lori Vidil, who reports that with 90,000 vehicles passing through each day, the lanes could use a daily degreasing.
Ms. Vidil agrees that motorcyclists are particularly in peril because they drive their bikes in the center of the lanes -- where oil drops usually hit. Thus, the lanes -- particularly the truck lanes where the grease is typically heavier -- are dangerous.
A newly designed license plate now is available for Maryland drivers interested in supporting the Olympics, which will be held in Atlanta and other venues next year. The colorful Maryland plates bear the five Olympic rings and an "Olympic Spirit" notation.
The license plate costs $40, but after state bureaucrats take $15 of that for administrative fees, the remaining $25 will be forwarded to the U.S. Olympic Committee for athletic training costs and program development here and across the country.
Those interested in a applying for the red, white and blue tag may write to the U.S. Olympic Committee, 1150 18th St. N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036.
ALIENS AT KENWOOD?
Could "X Files," that trendy television show often about space aliens, be coming to Baltimore? Why else, an inquisitive commuter inquires, is that inverted Y symbol painted in a traffic lane outside Kenwood High School?
"We had a few calls from concerned citizens who thought they were targets for bombs, or something," replied Len Buerhaus, chief of surveys for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works.
Fear no more, he said. The symbols are targets for airplanes. But a shutterbug's at the controls.
The county government has commissioned a sophisticated Geographical Information System map, which will detail election districts, school districts, roads, streets and ZIP codes in many layers. The map will help engineers and surveyors who want to build in the county or study its regions. Currently, these professionals use maps -- some of them made in the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Buerhaus says.
The "Y" -- and in some places "T" -- symbols were painted in February on various roads to help the airplanes locate coordinates to photograph for the map. Photos were taken two weeks ago.
"Now the paint has to wear away," Mr. Buerhaus added.
KEY HIGHWAY UPDATE:
Ever wonder when that unbroken collection of bumps, ruts, stone blocks, abandoned tracks, blacktop and bashed concrete that constitute Key Highway all the way around from the Inner Harbor will be repaved?
Your Intrepidness went to a baby shower recently at chic Harborview Marina and Yacht Club and thought the guest of honor would go into labor on the way to the party.
Wonder no more.
Vanessa Pyatt, spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works, said an $8 million repair job that includes road paving, new storm drains, a median strip, parking lanes and a bicycle lane is expected to be completed -- by spring of next year.
Allied Contractors Inc. has been hired by the city to do the work that will begin east of Lawrence Street up to Covington Street, Ms. Pyatt said.
Traffic lanes will shift with the construction.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Write to the Intrepid Commuter, c/o The Baltimore Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278. Please include your name and telephone number so we can reach you if we have any questions.
Or use your Touch-Tone phone to call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service, at 783-1800, and enter Ext. 4305. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County.