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Slate study says Baltimore drivers are the fifth worst in the nation

Baltimore recently cracked a Top 5 list, but don't cheer just yet—this list ranked cities with the worst drivers.

Slate/s Brian Palmer analyzed the years between traffic accidents, automotive fatalities, automotive fatalities that involved alcohol, and number of pedestrians struck by vehicles to come up with the list. Baltimore came in at No. 5. Miami came in a No. 1, followed by Philadelphia, Hialeah, Hawaii, and Tampa, Fla.

Palmer notes that Baltimore's traffic report card was weighed down by the sheer number of accidents that occur in the city per year, saying “Baltimoreans just can’t keep from running into each other.”

You can read the full article and see Palmer's data here.

Hurricane Sandy Disrupts Port of Baltimore Cruise Service

Maryland residents who seeking refuse from the massive Category 1 hurricane that is pummeling the East Coast were out of luck this week. Flights out of BWI were cancelled and the Maryland Transit Administration is suspending light rail, subway and bus service.

And cruise passengers leaving out of the Port of Baltimore saw their vacation plans disrupted. 

"Passengers who boarded the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas at the Port of Baltimore Friday evening looked forward to a five-night cruise to Bermuda," writes WBAL TV. "Instead, they left Baltimore five hours late for a ride to the lower Chesapeake Bay near Cape Henry, Va. The excursion became a 'cruise to nowhere' making no stops," the story says. The article was picked up by MSNBC.com. 

Maryland to Get New Area Code

If you happen to be old enough, you might remember a time when the 443 area code was a brand new thing in Maryland. Now, 667 is coming as well.

From the source:

Maryland is getting a new 667 area code.

The Public Service Commission says the remaining numbers in the 410 and 443 area codes are expected to be exhausted by early next year and the new 667 area code will begin in March.


More here.

BWI Setting Records

Even in a down economy, traffic through BWI remains robust.

From the source:

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is reaching passenger records despite the rough economy.

Data released Wednesday showed the airport marked its best first half of the year and 12-month period in its history.

BWI chief executive Paul Wiedefeld says 10.9 million travelers used the airport during the first half of the year, setting it on a path to exceed 22.5 million passengers this year. The airport has set monthly records in 13 of the past 14 months.

Read the whole story here
.

Port of Baltimore Still Going Strong

Michael Dresser at the Baltimore Sun reports on a recently released report indicating strong 2010 numbers for the Port of Baltimore.

From the source:

"From 2004 through 2008, the port handled more than 30 million tons of cargo each year, setting a record of 33 million tons just before the bottom fell out of the economy in late 2008. Tonnage fell by a third, to 22 million tons, in 2009 the port's lowest total this century.

The downturn proved short-lived, however, as the port handled 32.8 million tons in 2010, its second-best year. And 2011 is off to a healthy start, said James J. White, executive director of the port administration."

Read the full article here.

How will BRAC impact Forte Meade? Let the officials tell you.

Maryland's Federal Facilities Advisory Board, the officials who will pave the way for cooperation between federal, state, government and private companies meet last week to discuss the plans to bring the U.S. Cyber Command and the Defense Information Systems Agency move from Arlington.

Here's an excerpt:

"Everyone focuses on BRAC because that's the big animal, the 800-pound gorilla ... but growth at Fort Meade is a bigger issue than BRAC ... As we looked at this growth over a five- to seven-year time frame -- let's go out to 2013 -- we saw 5,695 [jobs] from BRAC; we estimated [another] 4,000 [new jobs] at NSA [National Security Agency] ... The magnitude of the growth is what really counts here ... At the beginning, this is going to be a mass assault on the transportation system around Fort Meade." -- Robert C. Leib, the Anne Arundel county executive's special assistant for BRAC and education"

Read the entire post here.

Yellow Line extension is not the way to go

Dave Murphy of Greater Greater Washington argues that the Central Maryland Transit Alliance should not prioritize the extension of Baltimore's Yellow Line light rail to Columbia, saying it would do better to focus on central transit.

An excerpt from the column reads:

The Green Line extension will hit developed areas in a large city with a burgeoning centralized train system in place. This is smart. The Yellow Line extension will connect Columbia to downtown Baltimore on a very long, very circuitous route that by-passes Fort Meade, the largest employment center in the state of Maryland.

Baltimore City needs transit connections. It needs an expanded system. It needs a centralized system. A Yellow Line extension would bolster businesses in Columbia and Towson. These are decentralized locations. A Green Line extension would bolster more centralized business districts like the Belair Road and Harford Road corridors. These are centralized areas. Baltimore has been decentralizing for fifty years, and it's not working.

From Columbia, the Yellow Line would take 42 minutes to get to BWI Airport, and then another 27 to get to downtown Baltimore. An hour and nine minutes to get from Columbia to Baltimore isn't a good transit connection. The northern section of the Yellow Line is actually a good idea, connecting several colleges along a main thoroughfare through the city proper. But the southern portion is as circuitous and useless as the current plan for the CCT in Gaithersburg.

Read the entire column here.

Baltimore hostel snags good score in national review

Bookings at Baltimore hostels are up 58%, according to data from Hostelworld.com. The Associated Press sent interns to check out hostels in four cities: Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The one in Baltimore definitely made the grade for young travelers, but was only recommended for parents who can do without air conditioning.

An excerpt from the article reads:

BALTIMORE HOSTEL: 17 W. Mulberry St., Baltimore, http://www.baltimorehostel.org or 410-576-8880. Rate: $25. Reviewed by Aaron Morrison, 24.

Best thing about the hostel: Free, do-it-yourself pancake breakfast.

Worst thing: The place was almost too quiet. Whether the subdued behavior was encouraged by staff or self-imposed by guests, common areas might as well have been funeral parlor chapels. Of course, low noise levels could be a plus for some travelers.

Bathroom: Bathrooms and showers smelled and looked like they had just been cleaned.

Sleeping: Dorms are gender-specific. The rooms are spacious. Other than lockers in rooms and hallway, a little room is available to place luggage so it's not a nuisance to roommates. Signs advertise ear plugs as a way to shut out other sleepers snoring. Ask for the ear plugs pre-emptively and before the front desk closes. You'll be happier in the morning.

Staff: The staff is friendly and they run the hostel like clockwork.

Amenities: The kitchen is impressive. There are two gas stoves, plenty of cookware and utensils, refrigerators for food storage and ample counter and dining space. A door in the kitchen leads to a outdoor patio, decorated with lights and lined with flower pots. There is a TV room stocked with movies and board games. Speedy WiFi connections are free. Internet reception was good in common areas and dorm rooms. There is a laundry room in the basement.

Read the entire article here.


Transit expert urges Red Line foes to become part of the solution

Otis Rolley III, president and chief executive officer of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, admonishes readers of the Sun who object to surface portions of the Red Line along Boston Street in Canton and Edmonson Avenue to consider the infeasibility of a subterranean route there and to participate in talks with city planners about alternatives.

An excerpt from the letter reads:

The Maryland Transit Administration has stated it will study traffic mitigation and parking management plans for both Edmondson Avenue and Canton. It will examine streetscape enhancements and environmental sustainability strategies and work with residents who are impacted by the Red Line route.

That's an open invitation for critics to become part of the solution rather than remaining part of the problem. It's the way other cities with light-rail projects have proceeded: They listened to opponents' critiques and sought to find acceptable solutions. The results there have been highly positive. We must hold the Maryland Transit Administration to its stated commitment and make sure everyone is part of the process.

From my experience as a former Baltimore City planning director, the Red Line process has been the most open and inclusive of any transit project in Baltimore's history. The number of public meetings and hearings has been extensive, even before Maryland submits a plan to the Federal Transit Administration.

Read the entire letter here.


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