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To report a road problem, first figure out whom to call


IF YOUR e-mails and comments aren't complaining about other drivers or your driving dilemmas, then chances are your e-mails are wondering whom to contact for some sort of road-related problem.

That our local roads are handled by different government agencies only complicates things. Depending on the problem and where you've found it, you might have to call the State Highway Administration, Howard County's Department of Public Works, Animal Control or Baltimore Gas and Electric.

Complicated enough?

A centralized road information clearinghouse would make things easier. But until that happens (and I'm not holding my breath), knowing whom to call depends primarily on whether the road is maintained by the state or the county. Numbered highways, such as U.S. 1, Interstate 895 and Route 32 are maintained by the SHA. Most other roads are maintained by the county.

I recently received a question about overgrown weeds obstructing the view from an exit ramp off Route 100. Because it is a state-maintained road and the exit is in Howard County, I contacted the SHA's Dayton maintenance facility, 410-531-5533.

If the maintenance question regards a state-maintained road in Anne Arundel County, call the Glen Burnie maintenance facility, 410-766-3770, for numbered roads (roughly) north of the Severn River or U.S. 50; or the Annapolis maintenance facility, 410-841-1009, for roads south and west of the Severn River or U.S. 50. For numbered roads in Carroll County, call the Westminister maintenance facility, 410- 848-6565. In Frederick County, call the Frederick maintenance facility, 301-624-8251.

Traffic signals are also a concern. One of the most frequent questions I receive is whom to call for a blown bulb.

For missing light bulbs or an otherwise malfunctioning traffic signal, the answer again depends on who is responsible for the intersection. Traffic signals (or other problems) at intersections that involve a state and county road, such as the one at U.S. 29 and Rivers Edge Road in Columbia, are the SHA's responsibility.

But if the signal is out at an intersection of county roads, the county is responsible. These can be reported directly to the Howard County Department of Public Works Traffic Engineering Division, 410-313-2430.

What if a road sign is blocked by trees?

Short answer for numbered roads: Contact the appropriate SHA maintenance facility. On county roads, contact the Bureau of Highways, 410-313-7450. But if downed trees or limbs are touching power lines, call BGE, 410-685-0123, because special handling is required.

With so many animals out and about in warmer weather, lately questions about dead animals have been most popular. Whom to call depends on what type of animal and where the animal is.

Call the appropriate SHA maintenance facility for all road kill along numbered roads, unless these animals are outside the SHA's right of way, 15 feet beyond the yellow line or along a county road. In cases when the dead animal is in county-maintained spaces, if it is a deer or domestic animal, call Howard County Animal Control, 410- 313-2780, to have the animal removed.

But if the dead critter is a raccoon or other small non- domestic animal, double-bag the animal or bag it and place it in your trash can. If it is visible, it will be left behind. You can also leave the animal wherever it is for nature to take its course, which it will in a few short days of summer heat -- an option if the odor will not carry to your home. Or you can bury the animal on your property, although many homeowner associations have rules forbidding burying animals on private property.

If the animal is alive but injured (and potentially dangerous), call Animal Control, which will come out to euthanize it.

According to The Maryland Drivers Handbook, if you strike and injure (or kill) a domestic animal, Maryland law requires you to immediately notify the police department that has jurisdiction in the area where the accident occurred. The police will then contact the proper agency to obtain medical care for the animal. Don't call 911; instead, call Howard County police, 410-313-2200.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at TrafficTalk@comcast.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Include your full name and contact information, or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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