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Author Topic: Maryland  (Read 361577 times)

hbelkins

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #50 on: March 01, 2012, 11:02:00 AM »

WTOP reports that Maryland is seriously considering putting enforcement cameras on school buses to catch the people who ignore the flashing red lights.

I'm conflicted on that, although it wouldn't affect me because I always stop for school buses. I don't like automated enforcement and cameras. I think once you allow them for any purpose, the lawmakers will expand them to cover everything (as we're seeing in Maryland with the proliferation of speed cameras now leading to the school bus enforcement). On the other hand, I can't see any justification for blowing past a school bus whose red lights are flashing, assuming of course there's no median separating you from the bus. So I find it hard to sympathize with anyone who might get nailed by these hypothetical cameras.

Haven't read the link, but these wouldn't need to be automated cameras like speeding and red light cameras, would they? They could just be a consumer quality video camera (like many of us shoot road videos with) that could provide video evidence to support a citation.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #51 on: March 01, 2012, 11:39:00 AM »

WTOP reports that Maryland is seriously considering putting enforcement cameras on school buses to catch the people who ignore the flashing red lights.

I'm conflicted on that, although it wouldn't affect me because I always stop for school buses. I don't like automated enforcement and cameras. I think once you allow them for any purpose, the lawmakers will expand them to cover everything (as we're seeing in Maryland with the proliferation of speed cameras now leading to the school bus enforcement). On the other hand, I can't see any justification for blowing past a school bus whose red lights are flashing, assuming of course there's no median separating you from the bus. So I find it hard to sympathize with anyone who might get nailed by these hypothetical cameras.

Haven't read the link, but these wouldn't need to be automated cameras like speeding and red light cameras, would they? They could just be a consumer quality video camera (like many of us shoot road videos with) that could provide video evidence to support a citation.

I don't know if it would work in precisely the same way as the photo radar and red light cameras, and I suspect there would be some differences due to the camera being mounted on a school bus, but the article suggests something more than a simple video camera:

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Legislation has been passed in Maryland that allows for automated cameras to be placed on the outside of school buses. Those cameras snap pictures of the license plates of vehicles that pass by school bus stop signs, and the driver can be sent a ticket in the mail. The automated ticketing process works the same way as red-light and speed cameras.

The state bill requires individual counties to approve the bill on their own to set up the program. A majority of Montgomery County councilmembers have already expressed support for the system, and it is expected to be fully approved in the coming weeks.

I don't know the details of how the existing photo radar and red light cameras work, but I suspect it may vary in different jurisdictions (consider also how camera laws vary in regard to whether they photograph the front or back, what must be included in the image, and so on). In DC it appears to me they may have someone going around and either downloading images or removing film, this based on my having seen a service vehicle stopped near some of the red light cameras on multiple occasions, often around the same time of day. You'd think they'd have some way to take digital images and then have the cameras send them in via a secure connection, but I don't know. I also wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the mobile speed cameras in DC work differently in this respect from the fixed speed cameras and that they have some sort of download procedure when the photocop returns from sitting on the side of the road, and I'd expect school bus enforcement cameras would probably work via some similar system.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #52 on: March 01, 2012, 11:51:58 AM »

WTOP reports that Maryland is seriously considering putting enforcement cameras on school buses to catch the people who ignore the flashing red lights.

I'm conflicted on that, although it wouldn't affect me because I always stop for school buses. I don't like automated enforcement and cameras. I think once you allow them for any purpose, the lawmakers will expand them to cover everything (as we're seeing in Maryland with the proliferation of speed cameras now leading to the school bus enforcement). On the other hand, I can't see any justification for blowing past a school bus whose red lights are flashing, assuming of course there's no median separating you from the bus. So I find it hard to sympathize with anyone who might get nailed by these hypothetical cameras.

Haven't read the link, but these wouldn't need to be automated cameras like speeding and red light cameras, would they? They could just be a consumer quality video camera (like many of us shoot road videos with) that could provide video evidence to support a citation.

I am not exactly in favor of "automated" traffic enforcement, especially because some places in the United States (like the District of Columbia) are using automated traffic enforcement to collect revenue, not to improve traffic safety.

Having said that, and speaking of Maryland, I believe that the General Assembly (not a county or municipal government) would have to enact a change to the state's Transportation Article to allow this type of automated enforcement (it already allows some forms of red light and speed cameras).   There might be an issue in counties where school bus service is provided by private-sector contractors and not the school district itself (all school districts in Maryland are county-wide except in Baltimore City, where the school district is city-wide because Baltimore City is not part of any county), only a few counties have county school buses, most of the counties contract with the private sector for transportation service - and at least once school district uses the private sector for "regular" transportation, but uses school district buses and employees to transport some special education and disabled pupils.

The school district in the middle of this article, Montgomery County, uses only its own buses (with local government registration plates) that are driven by school district employees. 

I think it might make a legal difference if the camera was mounted on a bus with local government plates instead of plates belonging to a private contractor (even though all school buses are painted yellow and have essentially the same flashing lights and STOP paddles).
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #53 on: March 01, 2012, 03:28:10 PM »

I am fully in favor of this. I see people passing stopped school busses very often and there have been some close calls withcars passing WHILE CHILDREN ARE CROSSING THE ROAD.  I only slightly sarcasticly suggested one change. Besides the camera I suggested a paintball gun loaded with bright paint that would automatically mark the car when it passes the bus  so everyone would know who is endangering the kids.

The legislation is in the General Assembly (if it hasn't already passed) 
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #54 on: March 01, 2012, 08:54:06 PM »

This actually makes more sense than red light cameras and a hell of a lot more sense than speed cameras. Though I wonder about the potential for false positives - passing on the other side of a median barrier being one possible scenario.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #55 on: March 02, 2012, 07:03:34 AM »

I believe the review process will take care of false positives such as you mentioned.  The median or barrier would be visible in the photo and the reviewing officer should not send the ticket out.  If the ticket is sent out the photo that goes along with it will provide proof when the defendant fights the ticket.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #56 on: March 02, 2012, 10:02:02 AM »

I believe the review process will take care of false positives such as you mentioned.  The median or barrier would be visible in the photo and the reviewing officer should not send the ticket out.  If the ticket is sent out the photo that goes along with it will provide proof when the defendant fights the ticket.

I agree with you - however, what are the safeguards that "bad" tickets do not get issued?  I realize that (at least in Maryland) a person that gets an "automated" ticket can challenge it in the District Court system, but it would be really bad public policy if even a few people had to fight such "bad" tickets - and some judges might be tempted to just dismiss them without a trial if they see a lot "bad" ones.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #57 on: March 08, 2012, 09:40:50 PM »

Judge clears way for I-95 travel plaza construction

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A Montgomery County circuit judge cleared the way Friday for the state Board of Public Works to vote next week on a half-billion-dollar contract to rebuild and operate the two Interstate 95 travel plazas north of Baltimore.

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Judge Eric Johnson lifted the restraining order he issued nearly two weeks ago, saying state case law did not allow him to interfere with the board's constitutional authority to act on the contract, which is expected to be awarded to Miami-based Areas USA.

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But he delayed ruling on a motion by the Maryland Transportation Authority and Areas to move the case to Circuit Court in Baltimore, where the majority of the defendants have offices and where all of the bid evaluation work took place.

State panel awards travel plaza contract

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The state Board of Public Works approved a half-billion-dollar contract on Wednesday to replace the two travel plazas on Interstate 95 north of Baltimore over the objection of a losing bidder that has vowed a legal battle to stop the deal.

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By a 2-1 vote, with Comptroller Peter Franchot opposed, the board awarded Miami-based Areas USA the 35-year contract to replace and operate Chesapeake House in Cecil County and Maryland House in Harford County. Areas will take over operation of the plazas — two of the nation's busiest — in September, with construction to begin almost immediately.

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"We are pleased that we prevailed and look forward to getting started and giving the people of Maryland travel areas that are welcoming gateways and that they can be proud of," said Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA.

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But executives at HMSHost, based in Bethesda and operator of the plazas since 1987, contend the bidding process was illegal and biased. They say they will file suit in Baltimore Circuit Court seeking to get the vote overturned and the project rebid.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #58 on: March 13, 2012, 09:04:45 PM »

Baltimore Sun:

State looks at all-electronic toll collection - Preliminary report says conversion is feasible but would come at a significant price

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Maryland may eventually do away with tollbooths on the state's highways, bridges and tunnels and switch to electronic toll collection.

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A preliminary report by the Maryland Transportation Authority concluded that converting its seven toll plazas is feasible but would cost as much as $180 million.

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Transportation officials initiated the study as they look for long-term savings and ways to reduce travel time and increase highway safety.

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"It's something we're interested in doing. It's something the industry is moving toward. But it's complicated and we're in the earliest stages," said Harold Bartlett, the transportation authority's executive secretary.

TOLLROADSnews: Maryland likely to take staged approach to all-electronic tolling

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Maryland seems likely to take a gradual, facility-by-facility approach going toward all-electronic tolling (AET). The state tolling agency Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) already has one AET facility - the Inter County Connector (MD200) an 18 mile, 29km long 8-interchange facility whose AET toll system has worked apparently flawlessly since it opened to traffic, the first stretch a year ago, the rest late 2011. There are always issues being worked by technical staff but no problems reaching public attention have surfaced.

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Another all-electronic toll project on the way is express toll lanes on I-95 from the I-95/895 split north of the two Baltimore harbor tunnels through the rebuilt Beltway I-695 interchange to Ikea.

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But the seven older toll facilities are mostly slow-speed single lane E-ZPass and cash lanes. At the Key Bridge and McHenry Tunnels they have left lanes wider and marked off as higher speed E-ZPass Only lanes, posted for 30mph. And on I-95 at the Susquehanna River toll point the left E-ZPass-only toll lane is marked off with a solid line, and is treated by motorists as a higher speed toll lane.

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But no real open road toll lanes alongside cash.

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Harold Bartlett, chief executive told us they're only part way through an AET Conversion and Prioritization Study for the seven mixed toll collection facilities - consultants are RK&K, URS - but they put together some preliminary thoughts recently at the request of people in the state General Assembly.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 07:59:56 AM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #59 on: April 04, 2012, 02:48:47 PM »

Washington Post: Maryland should invest $5.8 billion in Beltway, study says

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Maryland’s top transportation priority should be a $5.8 billion project to widen the entire Capital Beltway, from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the American Legion Bridge, a leading national transportation group said Wednesday.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2012, 06:49:48 AM »

While I agree that the DC Beltway needs help there are a lot of places in the state that major improvements could be made with a small portion of that 5.8 Billion.  And there would be a lot of pushback from parts of the state that never go near the DC Beltway.  In this area it is always good to specify which Beltway you are talking about. I-695 (The Baltimore Beltway) and I-495 (The DC Beltway) aren't that far apart and I have seen times when a conversation about one is confused as being about the other.  I've also seen arguments start along the lines of 'Oh that isn't THE Beltway'
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #61 on: April 05, 2012, 07:47:45 AM »

In my experience (because I commute on it), the southeast side of the Beltway doesn't need widening.  From Landover to Oxon Hill, the only time the Beltway gets bad is when there's a major crash.

BTW, TRIP needs to work on their quality control.  I looked at their Top 40 projects list and several projects have the wrong importance listed (i.e. stating access improvements to the Branch Ave Metro station will "provide improved accessibility to Fort Meade")
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2012, 10:40:29 AM »

In my experience (because I commute on it), the southeast side of the Beltway doesn't need widening.  From Landover to Oxon Hill, the only time the Beltway gets bad is when there's a major crash.

Maybe not today, but looking at a 20 year design year, it could be widened by adding a 5th inner lane each way and making it a managed lane.  That would match the WWB inner lanes which are reserved for future transit, and VA would need to do similar widening to connect to managed lanes at Springfield.  Express bus and HOV would be a much better use of WWB transit than any form of rail, IMHO.  Rail would be overkill for that corridor and HOV/busway would be much more flexible in that the express buses could seamlessly access local roads as well.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2012, 10:46:21 AM by Beltway »
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #63 on: April 07, 2012, 03:37:05 PM »

In my experience (because I commute on it), the southeast side of the Beltway doesn't need widening.  From Landover to Oxon Hill, the only time the Beltway gets bad is when there's a major crash.

Maybe not today, but looking at a 20 year design year, it could be widened by adding a 5th inner lane each way and making it a managed lane.  That would match the WWB inner lanes which are reserved for future transit, and VA would need to do similar widening to connect to managed lanes at Springfield.  Express bus and HOV would be a much better use of WWB transit than any form of rail, IMHO.  Rail would be overkill for that corridor and HOV/busway would be much more flexible in that the express buses could seamlessly access local roads as well.

Managed lanes are fine, but I have come to harbor an intense dislike of single managed lanes, for a variety of operational reasons. 

In most cases, there should be two managed lanes if traffic warrants one such lane (exceptions for lanes that are bus-only, like the contraflow bus lanes approach to the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey).
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #64 on: April 07, 2012, 09:01:41 PM »

In my experience (because I commute on it), the southeast side of the Beltway doesn't need widening.  From Landover to Oxon Hill, the only time the Beltway gets bad is when there's a major crash.

Maybe not today, but looking at a 20 year design year, it could be widened by adding a 5th inner lane each way and making it a managed lane.  That would match the WWB inner lanes which are reserved for future transit, and VA would need to do similar widening to connect to managed lanes at Springfield.  Express bus and HOV would be a much better use of WWB transit than any form of rail, IMHO.  Rail would be overkill for that corridor and HOV/busway would be much more flexible in that the express buses could seamlessly access local roads as well.

Managed lanes are fine, but I have come to harbor an intense dislike of single managed lanes, for a variety of operational reasons.  

In most cases, there should be two managed lanes if traffic warrants one such lane (exceptions for lanes that are bus-only, like the contraflow bus lanes approach to the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey).

Managed lanes across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge will be limited to one lane each way, as that is they way that the new WWB design was approved.  The inner lane on each WWB express roadway is reserved for either HOV/busway or rail transit.  Those inner lanes were built on the land portions of the 7.5 mile long WWB project as well.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 09:05:29 PM by Beltway »
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #65 on: April 12, 2012, 07:55:40 PM »

Baltimore Sun on the impending partial closure of I-83 (Jones Falls Expressway)
in Baltimore City: JFX jammed? Try these alternate routes to downtown

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Is it a coincidence? The closure of one lane in each direction on the Jones Falls Expressway begins on Friday the 13th.

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At 7 p.m., to be precise.

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The lanes will be closed near 29th St. and Druid Lake Drive to permit repairs to damaged drainage pipes under the expressway, said the Baltimore Department of Transportation, which expects the project to take as many as eight weeks.

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"The remaining two lanes in each direction will not provide sufficient capacity to accommodate traffic demand and, accordingly, severe congestion will result unless there is a significant traffic diversion," the department said in a statement.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 08:03:45 PM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #66 on: April 12, 2012, 08:02:48 PM »

In my experience (because I commute on it), the southeast side of the Beltway doesn't need widening.  From Landover to Oxon Hill, the only time the Beltway gets bad is when there's a major crash.

Maybe not today, but looking at a 20 year design year, it could be widened by adding a 5th inner lane each way and making it a managed lane.  That would match the WWB inner lanes which are reserved for future transit, and VA would need to do similar widening to connect to managed lanes at Springfield.  Express bus and HOV would be a much better use of WWB transit than any form of rail, IMHO.  Rail would be overkill for that corridor and HOV/busway would be much more flexible in that the express buses could seamlessly access local roads as well.

Managed lanes are fine, but I have come to harbor an intense dislike of single managed lanes, for a variety of operational reasons. 

In most cases, there should be two managed lanes if traffic warrants one such lane (exceptions for lanes that are bus-only, like the contraflow bus lanes approach to the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey).

Managed lanes across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge will be limited to one lane each way, as that is they way that the new WWB design was approved.

That is correct.  And even if they are put to use as managed lanes, they will probably work well, since there's not much recurring congestion there any longer. 

This morning being an exception, when a crash on the 11th Street Bridge (I-695 over the Anacostia River) took a very long time for District of Columbia officials to resolve, backing up traffic all the way south on I-295 to the Capital Beltway, and congesting the Outer Loop of the Beltway (I-95 N) as far west [south] as Va. 613 (S. Van Dorn Street) and the Inner Loop (I-95 S) as far east [north] as Md. 414 (St. Barnabas Road).

Quote
The inner lane on each WWB express roadway is reserved for either HOV/busway or rail transit.  Those inner lanes were built on the land portions of the 7.5 mile long WWB project as well.

Correct. 

But without barrier separation, I have come to the conclusion that concurrent-flow managed lanes don't serve their users very well. 
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #67 on: April 12, 2012, 09:24:15 PM »

The inner lane on each WWB express roadway is reserved for either HOV/busway or rail transit.  Those inner lanes were built on the land portions of the 7.5 mile long WWB project as well.

Correct.  

But without barrier separation, I have come to the conclusion that concurrent-flow managed lanes don't serve their users very well.  

The concurrent-flow managed lanes on I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road add a lot more value to the highway than if they were general purpose lanes, IMHO.

I am comfortable with single-lane concurrent-flow managed lanes on the WWB and that section of the Beltway, they should match the needs well.

The double-lane managed lanes on I-495 between Springfield and McLean will be the "heart" of the managed lanes on the Beltway, as they connect directly to the managed lanes of all three radial freeways that have managed lanes (I-95/I-395, I-66, and DTR), and should carry a lot of bus and car pool traffic due to those connections.  The Beltway already carries a lot of general purpose traffic trips that utliize both a Beltway segment and a radial segment.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 09:26:24 PM by Beltway »
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #68 on: April 13, 2012, 08:57:49 AM »

....

That is correct.  And even if they are put to use as managed lanes, they will probably work well, since there's not much recurring congestion there any longer. 

This morning being an exception, when a crash on the 11th Street Bridge (I-695 over the Anacostia River) took a very long time for District of Columbia officials to resolve, backing up traffic all the way south on I-295 to the Capital Beltway, and congesting the Outer Loop of the Beltway (I-95 N) as far west [south] as Va. 613 (S. Van Dorn Street) and the Inner Loop (I-95 S) as far east [north] as Md. 414 (St. Barnabas Road).

....

Which, to be fair, is not something you can chalk up to the design of the Beltway or the Wilson Bridge.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #69 on: April 15, 2012, 03:30:05 PM »

Which, to be fair, is not something you can chalk up to the design of the Beltway or the Wilson Bridge.

Absolutely correct. 

Though it shows how the anti-auto/anti-highway attitude of the municipal government of the District of Columbia impacts people that don't even have D.C. as a destination.
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #70 on: April 15, 2012, 03:35:07 PM »

Great image in this article showing the damage inflicted by the floodwaters resulting from Hurricane Agnes (1972) on the south end of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Thruway (I-895 today). 

At the time, the BHT ended at U.S. 1, though the construction that would extend the toll road south to I-95 can be seen.

Baltimore Sun: 40 years later, Howard looks back at Tropical Storm Agnes - 1972 storm is the worst in memory for most in Howard County
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Re: Maryland
« Reply #71 on: April 19, 2012, 02:10:26 PM »

A TOLLROADSnews article about what is almost certainly the least-known toll crossing in Maryland, the "low-water" toll bridge over the Potomac River between Oldtown, Maryland and Green Spring, West Virginia:  Oldtown Bridge MD-WV facing major regulatory problems for toll hike

Google Maps satellite image of the bridge and surrounding area here.
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bsmart

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #72 on: April 19, 2012, 09:05:02 PM »

I first read about the low water bridge back in the 60s in the 'Sun' magazine in the Sunday Baltimore Sun newspaper.  As I remember the article it said they would pull the deck off the bridge in the winter so that debris ice and high water wouldn't destroy it.  One day about 20 years ago my son and I drove out there mainly to see the Paw-Paw tunnel but after lunch drove west and saw the bridge but didn't cross it.  I may see about taking a day trip out there soon.  If you do go out and plan on walking through the tunnel remember to take a flashlight!  It does get very dark when you get away from the portal
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algorerhythms

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #73 on: April 20, 2012, 12:11:02 AM »

Quote
The single lane wood decked Oldtown Bridge brings in about $100,000/year in tolls on about 200,000 tolled vehicle crossings a year (530/day average).
I was a bit surprised to find out that bridge got that much traffic. Oldtown is a very small town, but I guess it makes sense since the nearest crossing is about 30 miles away. I've crossed that bridge several times (my sister used to live in Green Spring).
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Maryland
« Reply #74 on: April 20, 2012, 11:51:44 AM »

Quote
The single lane wood decked Oldtown Bridge brings in about $100,000/year in tolls on about 200,000 tolled vehicle crossings a year (530/day average).
I was a bit surprised to find out that bridge got that much traffic. Oldtown is a very small town, but I guess it makes sense since the nearest crossing is about 30 miles away. I've crossed that bridge several times (my sister used to live in Green Spring).

I've been out that way, but not recently, and when I once tried to cross the bridge, it was blocked by "portable" Jersey wall barriers. 

From what I have seen from satellite images, the Koppers Company purchased (what was once) a large Baltimore and Ohio Railroad yard in Green Spring, W.Va. a short distance from the bridge.  According to the Koppers Web site (here), this area is now a plant that preserves wood for railroad industry use (I would think mostly railroad ties). It is reasonable to assume that at least some of the Koppers employees live on the north side of the Potomac River and commute across the bridge - and that some of the truck traffic coming to and from Koppers prefers to use Md. 51 for access.

Given that the nearest crossings of the river are quite distant (Md. 61/W.Va. 28 upriver at Cumberland and Md. 51/W.Va. 9 downriver at Paw Paw), it makes sense that even in this rural area there would be some demand for a crossing of the Potomac River.
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