WITH LAST WEEK'S opening of the General Assembly, Annapolis transportation officials have gone to their bag of tricks to try to prevent the event from turning the historic city into one big parking lot with traffic clogging Rowe Boulevard, parking garages full and residential neighborhoods choked with illegally parked cars.
It's an annual battle in the state's capital -- and at times, it's not pretty.
City traffic officials spent Friday lecturing rookie legislators on parking and shuttle etiquette, while the old-timers were warned against trying to beat the system.
Early returns show the influx is not worse than last year's onslaught of lawmakers and lobbyists, thanks in part to more available shuttle buses to haul people from parking lots near the Naval Academy into the city.
As a bonus, the 35-cent bus fare has been waived for passengers headed to the State House to testify or to conduct official state business.
Observers say the tone of the session usually determines how difficult driving and parking will be in the 300-year-old city, according to Danielle Matland, acting transportation director.
If it's a boisterous session with hot issues, people will flock to the city's narrow streets.
If legislators are holding mundane hearings, the place can be a ghost town.
"It just depends on how hard they work," Matland said.
University Parkway light never runs its cycle
Life's a breeze in the 4400 block of University Parkway.
That's where a traffic light at University and Roland Avenue never indicates to stop. It's stuck on an ever-pleasant green glow signaling drivers headed toward Hampden to proceed.
A quick size-up by your wheelster last week revealed that the go signal serves no traffic-related purpose -- except to stand as a perpetual symbol of smooth passage. A light stationed on the opposite side of the street for westbound University commuters runs through traditional red, yellow and green cycles.
Chalk it up to another one of Baltimore's quirky charms.
Rumble strips, sign seem to improve trouble spot
After two nearly identical accidents last summer that killed two people at Pindell School and Guilford roads in Simpsonville, Howard County, officials have installed rumble strips and a sign with flashing lights to warn drivers to slow as they approach the intersection's stop sign.
Studies show the devices are working. County traffic engineer George Frangos said motorists comply with the oversized warning board about 80 percent of the time. Before the changes, the rate was 10 percent.
Don't forget to feed Baltimore parking meters today -- despite the national observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. City Department of Public Works crews are restocking the salt domes this week after spreading almost 11,000 tons of ice killer. That's almost as much salt as was needed for all of last winter. A study released last week shows highway deaths have increased about 15 percent in the 43 states that have increased their speed limits since Congress abolished the national 55-mph limit in late 1995. In states that have maintained the 55-mph limit, deaths have remained fairly consistent. Look for a detour in Annapolis near the Spa Road and Brown Street intersection. Traffic will be rerouted for three weeks while workers install water and sewer lines and remove overhead wires.
Pub Date: 1/18/99