Wednesday, 03 April 2013 13:49

City crews have started road repairs along the city portion of Dundalk Avenue. photo by Ben Boehl

GPIA meeting on road, pipe projects set

by Ben Boehl

Informing the community is not always an easy task.
Graceland Park Improvement Association president Celestine “Babe” Grabowski has been warning residents along and near Dundalk Avenue about the pending construction that is taking place as part of the Baltimore City Department of  Transportation’s (BCDOT) Southeast Road Reconstruction Project program.
    The project includes the Dundalk Avenue Streetscape, along with the Broening Highway Reconstruction and the Southeast Intersection Improvements.
    The project started near the end of last year but has become more visible within the last month, as evidenced by lane closures on Dundalk Avenue.
    Grabowski said he has distributed fliers, discussed the topic at his association’s meetings and held special meetings a few times a year to inform residents about the road project.
    He thought the word got out sufficiently, but when the construction project actually began, he got the standard phone calls asking why the road was being repaired.
    “A lot of people want to know what’s going on with Dundalk Avenue,” Grabowski said with a laugh.
    According to the BCDOT website, the project is expected to be completed in two years and includes streetscape improvements on Dundalk Avenue from Eastern Avenue to Holabird Avenue (at the Baltimore County/City line).
    The purpose of the upgrades is to make the Dundalk Avenue corridor more attractive and safer for vehicles, pedestrians, transit users and bicyclists. A new bike lane will be added to the road and the new landscaping will have an artistic element.
    Now that the project is underway, Grabowski is inviting Graceland Park-area residents to the next GPIA meeting on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. for more information about the project.
    Another prominent question in the Graceland Park community is  about what Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. [BGE] is doing in the area.
    Although it has not been as publicized as the road construction, BGE is putting in new gas lines and meters.
    Aaron Koos, a spokesperson for BGE, said this project is called “Operation Pipeline,” and involves BGE replacing aging cast iron gas mains. BGE has done at least 24 such projects across its coverage area since 2010.
    “We are replacing gas lines that are at the end of their service,” Koos said
    Grabowski believes some of the current gas lines have been in place since the early 1920s.
    Koos confirmed that some of those lines might be near the century mark.
    “There are probably some that are that old and some that might be newer, but the average age [of gas lines] in Graceland Park is around 75 years,” Koos added.
    Grabowski is happy that BGE is coming into the neighborhood while the city is working on the roads, so that all those projects can be done together.
    Koos said that BGE was aware of the BCDOT project and checked to see if work needed to be done. When they saw Graceland Park needed new lines, they decided to go into the community now — before Dundalk Avenue gets its makeover.
    “We knew the project was going to be taking place, but it was a coincidence that (the area)  needed new gas lines,” Koos said. “We didn’t want to have to come back later.”
    The BGE gas line work is expected to be finished by the fall, although the repairs will move through different areas and will not be in one location the whole time.
    The first set of lines will be placed on Dundalk Avenue, so the city can work on the road project.
    Later, BGE will replace lines on portions of Youngstown, Bethlehem, Boston, Duluth and Danville avenues.
    Koos  said BGE will work with Graceland Park residents to notify them about parking restrictions and other inconveniences.         Grabowski added that a representative from BGE will be at the next GPIA meeting to explain the process.
    “A BGE rep will bring his ‘toys’ with him for ‘show and tell,’” Grabowski added.
    Usually, when there is confusion and uncertainty in the Graceland Park community, residents can rely on getting answers by attending the GPIA meeting on the third Wednesday of the month.
    However, Graceland United Methodist Church was holding Lenten services on Wednesday, so the GPIA February and March meetings were moved to Thursday nights.
    That meant a lot of residents either did not know about the change or could not attend meetings on the alternate nights.
    Grabowski noted that he also had trouble getting a police representative at the meetings. He is happy to announce that the meeting will return to the church at its normal night this month.
    “We are returning back to Wednesday night in April,” Grabowski said.