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Rumble over roads in Baltimore County

Baltimore County

Getting roads fixed is a bread and butter job for a county councilman. But one Baltimore County Councilman says he is being kept in the dark about road projects in his district by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s administration.

Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area, says he doesn’t know what road projects are coming because he’s not allowed to pick up the phone and call the county public works director. Marks says he has to go through County Executive Kamenetz’s office instead.

"We have to go through his staff in order to get answers and a lot of times we don’t get answers," Marks complained.

Marks made his point at a recent meeting of county officials with state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and his staff.

"When you get a call from a state legislator about the status of a road project, do you have to go to the Governor’s office to return a call to the state legislator?" Marks asked.

"No," Rahn answered.

"You’re allowed to communicate with the legislator?" Marks pressed.

"Correct," Rahn said.

"Ok. That’s all I wanted to ask."

Kamenetz said he doesn’t know what Councilman Marks is talking about.

"I’m not hearing any of the other council members complain," he said.

Kamenetz and Marks have been feuding over roads for some time.

A spokesman for the county executive says no one in the administration is preventing Marks from talking with any department head. However, there are times when the councilman requests information that they may not have and they then direct him back to the administration.

Marks has introduced legislation that would require the public works director to notify a council member before a road project begins in his or her district, and provide a list of road projects coming to that district. Marks said that’s happened in the past, but not this year.

Councilman Todd Crandell agrees. Crandell said all he’s received this year is a vague email with a list of roads.

"People depend upon us for information," he complained. "And we’re the ones who are going to community association meetings and out and about in our neighborhoods and in our grocery stores and talking to people about what is happening in their own community."

Crandell said, unlike Marks, he’s had no trouble talking directly with public works. Legislative aides for Councilmen Tom Quirk and Wade Kach said the same thing.

However, Crandall said the council has asked public works several times for that list of roads that are to be paved and they haven’t coughed it up.

"I don’t have it," Crandell said. "I don’t know if he can or cannot. But we still don’t have it."

Kamenetz spokesman Ellen Kobler said there is no change in policy and no formal list because it’s always difficult to pinpoint exactly when a road resurfacing project will begin. Kobler said weather and utility work can cause delays.

"Obviously the county would not want to complete a repaving project only to see it dug up as a result of an unrelated utility schedule," she said.

Kamenetz and Marks, one of three Republicans on the seven member council, have clashed recently over road construction in Towson. The Councilman says the traffic-congested county seat isn’t getting enough of it. Kamenetz, a Democrat, disagrees.

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