Scores of area roads remain blocked

Police officer Bill Taylor (right) directs traffic at Harford and Echodale avenues, where signals were still out yesterday morning. A fire engine responds to a fender-bender at the intersection.
Police officer Bill Taylor (right) directs traffic at Harford and Echodale avenues, where signals were still out yesterday morning. A fire engine responds to a fender-bender at the intersection. (Sun photo by Amy Davis)
Four days after Isabel lashed Maryland, scores of Baltimore-area roads remained blocked yesterday by toppled trees - some ensnared by power lines and awaiting utility crews - and crippled by malfunctioning traffic lights.

Workers in Baltimore and the surrounding counties were chopping and lugging away hundreds of fallen trees, some of which were blocking roads, while police officers directed cars at intersections without power for the signals.

"As far as collateral damage, this is the worst storm I've seen," said lifelong city resident Alfred Schudel, 73, owner of Pinehurst Wine Shop on Bellona Avenue in North Baltimore. "We didn't get any rain to speak of, but we've got an awful lot of trees down."

30 traffic lights out

While all major city roads were passable yesterday, dozens of others were still waiting on city crews to clear them, and about 30 traffic lights were not working, officials said.

Most roads should be cleared by tomorrow, said a spokesman from the Forestry Department. A Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokesman said the traffic lights should all be working by Friday.

In Baltimore County, three major sections of state roads were closed: Falls Road near Padonia Road, York Road near McCormack Road and Greenspring Valley Road near Greenspring Avenue.

About 25 county roads were also closed because of trees and wires, and four intersections had traffic lights that were not functioning, said Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County office of Emergency Management.

"We're in recovery mode," Armacost said.

In Howard County, only two roads were closed; in Anne Arundel County, four remained impassable because of trees down and entangled in power lines. A fifth was shut because of soil erosion.

Working nonstop

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens said crews have been working nonstop to get roads open since Saturday, when as many as 345 county roads were closed because of fallen debris or downed power lines. Owens asked residents to help the county by clearing what debris they could from the roads.

"We need an army," she said.

Anne Arundel officials closed schools yesterday in part because too many roads around the county still were unfit for school buses to navigate. School transportation officials said buses will be running today, but they warned that some delays were likely.

In Carroll County, only Lees Mill Road in Hampstead remained closed to traffic yesterday because of a fallen tree snarled in power lines. The county closed the stretch from St. Paul Road to Route 30 Friday. BGE crews were expected to clear the debris yesterday but had not arrived by late afternoon.

"We have done everything we can possibly do, but we can't cut trees that are tied up with electrical wires," said Douglas Myers, county public works director. "Lees Mill is out of my hands."

In Harford County, about 290 roads were closed at the height of the storm. Yesterday, about 30 remained blocked, said Linda Rickey, chief of highways. She said the primary challenge to reopening them was downed power lines and poles entangled in felled trees.

"We're just dead in the water at this point until we can get in there," Rickey said of the snarls of lines and trees, which county crews cannot work on unless power lines have been removed - or workers are sure wires are not live. "It's just a mess."

Trees on houses

Back in the city, workers had been wrestling with 1,180 calls of trees lying across roads and on top of houses, said Marion Bedingfield, a tree service technician for Baltimore's Forestry Division.

Bedingfield said his department had taken care of about half of the calls by yesterday and had cleared all major thoroughfares. But he said getting rid of all of the debris on the roads and next to the roads will take some time.

"Some trees we have are taking up to a day to clean up," Bedingfield said. "We expect we'll be cleaning up for several months."

Downed trees could be found blocking streets in Roland Park on Overhill Road between Keswick and Wickford roads.

Explosive fall

There was also a 50-foot pine lying across Bellona and Melrose avenues. Wires hung from the tree.

The blockage forced Katie Schapiro, 23, to take an alternate route to work at Charlesmeade Pharmacy.

"I had to take a short detour," Schapiro said. "It wasn't a big deal." The fallen tree belonged to sports consultant Gregory Smith, 38. He said he heard a big explosion Thursday night as it crashed into the street. Smith lost four trees to the storm.

"I'm told we were the talk of the neighborhood," he said. "This is a relatively high-traffic area and it was a loud explosion."

A spokesman from the department of transportation said Smith's tree should be removed from the road by today.

Lane Harvey Brown, Laura Cadiz, Larry Carson, Mary Gail Hare, Laura Loh and Childs Walker contributed to this article.

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