Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MD SHA Needs to Learn Consideration for Pedestrians

    I understand that the Maryland State Highway Administration has been working very hard lately to clear snow.  I'm further sure that it's a difficult job that many are willing to quickly find fault with despite SHA working on limited resources.  Very few people would actually think that the Maryland SHA should invest in snow removal resources as much as the Vermont Agency of Transportation.  (I wonder if the Vermont agency actually accepts responsibility for more than just roads, as the name implies; that they recognize that transportation is more than just moving vehicles?)  Further, anyone is free to review this post in which I complimented SHA for a job well done.  So, as displeased as I might be about today's incident and SHA's proposal for a supposed multimodal underpass for the Medical Center Metro, I am not inherently an SHA hater, but when things like this happen, I have no choice but to publicize them.  I would much rather be studying. 

    With my acknowledgment of the above constraints, I still must put forth my displeasure regarding SHA's snow removal along Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda this morning.  You can see in the geotagged photos the exact spots that I'm discussing.  As I proceeded north on my walk to work this morning, I was dismayed to find that in the process of removing some of the mounds of snow on the corners, the walk ways through the mounds had been filled in.  See picture to the above right.  Further, the one corner between my house and work on Wisconsin that hadn't had any snow removed, was the one that the owner of the property had failed to clear a path through.  Thus, all pedestrians are forced to climb over a three or four foot mound.  Further, in this process one can see, in the second photo, that SHA's equipment created a packed slick surface on the road that was more slippery than ice.  Why was no salt put down on these surfaces? 

    I thought this was the worst of it until I proceeded further north towards Jones Bridge Road, where I found SHA workers awaiting the return of dump trucks to haul away the snow.  Here I found a cleared sidewalk that had been nearly fully filled with ice chunks in while clearing the right turn lane onto Jones Bridge Road (see left photo).  I then sought out the supervisor (sitting in the truck) who declined to speak with me and asked me to contact SHA communications department.  I certainly understand such an action as I'm sure such is the guidance he has received from his superiors.  Prior to declining to comment though, he did respond to my question regarding when the sidewalks would be cleared from the debris they've just put there.  He told me that the sidewalks would be cleared "eventually".  When is "eventually"?  What if all of Wisconsin Avenue or another major road was not cleared of snow until "eventually"?

    Again I will state that I understand and accept that the SHA has limited resources.  Further, I accept the those of us who don't regularly drive our commute will not receive anywhere near our proportion of resources for infrastructure maintenance.  However, is it too much to ask that, in providing for snow removal for cars and trucks, that the poor state of affairs suffered by us pedestrians not be further added to?


Anonymous said...

In fairness to Maryland SHA (although I agree completely with what you say here about their plowing), the ridiculous underpass proposal at Medical Center Metro comes from the Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation. Not from the state.

Ben Ross