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David Marks introduces bill to require notice of road projects

David Marks

David Marks

David Marks

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Fifth District, submitted the following op-ed: 

Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works has some of the finest public servants I have met in two decades of working at every level of government.   That includes the public works directors I have served with while on the County Council, Ed Adams and Steve Walsh.   I voted to confirm both of them, and would do so again.

Unfortunately, like any governmental bureaucracy, these public servants have to deal with political pressures placed on them from above.

Case in point:  the recent decision by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to proceed with changes along Towsontown Boulevard without support from the local community and with no notification to my office.

osler towsontown

For more than a half-decade, Towson University and three hospitals in western Towson have championed an expansion of Towsontown Boulevard near Osler Drive. While almost everyone wants something done about the congestion in this area, there is no consensus on what improvements should look like.   The “Big Four,” has they are often called, have supported improvements that would affect the wooded property to the north.  Residents of Southland Hills have preferred taking land to the south.

Recently, the Green Towson Alliance floated the idea of a dedicated bike lane. Towson University’s own 2015 Master Plan endorses this concept along the perimeter of the campus.

The costly and controversial improvements were thought to be in limbo until construction suddenly started in late September.  It took three days for my office to receive blueprints, and only after the County Executive’s office had issued a press release on the $2.3 million project.

Again, I do not dispute the need for a project to improve this corridor.  I do question the lack of transparency and community input, as well as the urgency when Towson has many transportation concerns.

The administration has sent contradictory signals. While this stealth project was advancing with no public input, the administration was preparing a press release announcing a community meeting on a Randallstown transportation project.  Why did Randallstown get the benefit of a public meeting, and not Towson?

The administration will spend $1.7 million in county funding on this project, an amount that would resurface more than six miles of roads, according to our County Auditor.  I credit the administration for responding to my requests for resurfacing work in communities like Rodgers Forge, Towson Manor Village, and Anneslie, but the conditions in other neighborhoods are horrific–and the Department of Public Works refuses to brief me on a timetable for repair, perhaps under political pressure.

There are many reforms that I think would improve the Department of Public Works, including a stronger emphasis on bicycle and pedestrian improvements.  For now, I am seeking assurances that the Department will have a more consistent input and notification process on major transportation projects, which is why I have filed Bill 75-16.

This legislation requires the County Council to be notified of projects and the posting of these changes on the County Web Site.  Please contact me at dmarks@baltimorecountymd.gov if you wish to testify.

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3 Comments on "David Marks introduces bill to require notice of road projects"

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Sam C

Sounds like more unnecessary government intervention that will serve the wants of a few over the needs of the public. I sure hope are roads don’t crumble and become increasingly congested if this bill results in slowing progress, like similar cries for heavy-handed obstructionism have stalled improvement of the derelict northern and southern gateways and the Towson Row project.

The obstructionism in Towson is unreal. Yes, taxpayers voices and interests matter, but the local government shouldn’t cater to the biggest complainers or developers. There needs to be visions, but just knee-jerk reactions and fingers pointed at Kamenetz. Towson lacks a vision and leadership.

Bike lanes would be great. We’ve been hearing about them for years. There is talk but no will on implementing or enforcing bike lane rules. Maybe Towson should be embarrassed that Baltimore City joined the bike party much later and has made tremendous strides under more difficult financial constraints.

Roger

The government derives authority from the people. What’s wrong with smart development regulations and more transparency? There are way too many hidden schemes in Towson. Ask why our county executive avoids engaging our neighborhoods on these issues? You’d think our county seat Towson, where KK has worked for decades, would be a better example of his leadership than what Owings Mills, Turners Station, Dundalk and Mays Chapel experienced. I think it is not and ask why not.

Sam C
Absolutely nothing wrong with transparency. I wish the GTCCA, local anti-change xenophobes, developers, Kamenetz and Marks were more transparent. And I agree with you, government derives its power from the electorate, i.e., Kamenetz elected to lead the county. “Sometimes” being a leader means you don’t make everyone happen in order to improve the overall situation. Running on a platform of blight, growing the derelict space, and obstructing improvement rarely gets anyone elected. The obstructionist moves taking place are not on the ballot, so we don’t have the ability to be involved in the decision-making process. Despite incredible voter apathy and stunningly low voter turnout for local elections, I think you’ll find that the complaints of a couple dozen people do not reflect the 60,000+ Towson residents. Marks continues to buckle to criticism and complaints, and all that happens is stalled growth- Towson Row, both gateways (in every type of proposal), perpetual talk of a bicycle network- at the expense of Towson’s taxpayers looking for their potentially revenue-rich town to enter the 21st century. Would you rather mixed use development that improves walkability and reduces local traffic, or the continued embarrassing blight and wasted opportunities that highlight the Towson Triangle (I’m not talking about 20-story buildings)? Would you like decreased congestion along Towsontown Blvd or to make sure that public right of ways remain under the control of a few complainers? Would you like to support local businesses and increased revenue and blight removal, or the continuing decline of the embarrassing… Read more »
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