May 3, 2018

How To Fix Traffic


You may think improving traffic flow would mean building bigger, faster roads, when the solutions really center on human behavior. Check out this video that looks at moving cars better through combining common sense, driver habits, and inventive engineering. It's enlightening!


May 3, 2018

Before I say something that that pegs me as an inhibitor to progress, or advocate something too pie in the sky to be possible, I think it's first necessary to establish as this article implies that human behavior will change with the appropriate incentives. Those incentives or disincentives may seem unpalatable to one political persuasion or the other, but at the end of the day, data manifests people do not always adhere ardently to their beliefs when behavioral incentives are appropriately applied. Traffic is probably one of the more obvious ways to see this. But I digress.


I'm curious if anyone has considered a bypass for commercial trucks and making it a toll road for everyone else. Obviously we would want to determine a yearly income which the city may feel they would lose based on diverted traffic, and set the toll appropriately to either make up for that, or to continue to steer non-commercial vehicles through our great small town.


Initial toll would have to be relatively pricey, but could slowly be lowered to find the appropriate balance. The toll money would then be used for all the necessary improvements to downtown to make it even more appealing and usable for tourist traffic. I am not absolutely married to this idea, I just wonder if that has been discussed as an option, or if anybody knows where this may have been attempted in any other small towns.

May 5, 2018

You bring up an interesting and new point. There has been no discussion of a toll attached to the bypass to my knowledge. The last data I recall showed 122 trucks from 219 N entering Oakland and the same on 219 S exiting Oakland which would indicate pass-through truck traffic. Some may have local deliveries in downtown but that's uncertain in the data. Running the numbers on what would be an acceptable toll by commercial drivers on a rural route raises my curiosity. Some bypasses are built and not utilized to the expectations of transportation planners without full understanding of social behaviors. Passing through Oakland may be a pleasant diversion from endless miles of travel. Worth asking a few truckers.

May 6, 2018

We need metrics on the increase of traffic flow during peak tourist seasons to determine how many coming to Oakland are making Oakland their end destination as opposed to going further up to Thomas Davis or Canaan Timberline area (or other destinations further a field). That would help clarify if a toll might be useful or not.

May 6, 2018

Tolls are economically flexible told and can be variable as well. We should not be lulled into thinking we will have a single toll for everyone. There could be out of town rates, locals rates, Etc. Also Peak and non-peak season rates. The key of course would be modeling all of this out of time in a cost simulation, working out different users total costs across a year for comparison.

May 9, 2018

Mountain Lake Park's Mayor and Town Council have invited the State Highway Administration to present the latest on the Oakland Bypass on June 7th. No details yet, but a great opportunity to get many questions answered.

New Posts
  • To the Editor, Governor Hogan has selected six new members to the Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering. The 6th District that includes all of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties was found unconstitutional in November by a federal judicial panel. It was determined the current district was drawn to give an unfair advantage to Democratic candidates. A new district map was ordered before the 2020 general election.  Voters generally agree that gerrymandered districts throw elections by mixing in more densely populated areas to swing toward one party or the other. Both parties are guilty of redrawing maps to produce favorable outcomes all across the nation. The current 6th District weaves in parts of Frederick and Montgomery Counties which amount to roughly 50 percent of the voters for the entire district. The known Democratic dominance in the two counties naturally gives leaning toward that party's candidates.  The 6th district is a clear example of how clever manipulation of borders can change election outcomes. But if we’re talking about fairness, why do none of the newly selected six commission members reside in the three core Western Maryland Counties? The Commission is equally represented by two Republicans, two Democrats, and two Unaffiliated members but four of the members live in Montgomery County, one in Anne Arundel, and the other in Howard County. No representation is coming from the counties most impacted by redrawing the district.  Roughly 300 applications to serve the committee were considered. I personally know someone from Garrett County who was a highly qualified applicant to serve on the committee and I’m sure there were others within the district. Montgomery County has already been deciding the 6th District elections and now the same county will be dominating the decision of the new map. This entire districting issue centers around just representation for voters. The Hogan administration is missing the mark beginning with the selection process. True Western Marylanders should be directly represented on the committee to draw a map that accurately serves its voters and potential candidates. Hogan has an opportunity to create a model for establishing fair and equitable districting. Although he’s advocated for rural communities on other issues, ignoring Garrett, Allegany, and Washington County applicants for this voting district issue is not in good form. Mark Stutzman,  President, Engage Mountain Maryland
  • Mary Helen and I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Garrett County Republican newspaper (Joe Hauger) asking him to please cover the local political campaigns. It was never published, which we found most irritating. The only reason we subscribe to the Republican is to get the local political news which we cannot get on TV or from the national press. And the question of who governs us is certainly important to all of us. Here is a verbatim transcript of our unpublished LTE: To the Editor of the Garrett County Republican, As Garrett Countians and Marylanders, we are upset at the lack of political news concerning Garrett County and local Maryland state candidates available to local citizens during this important political season. Whether you receive COMCAST/Infinity or DirecTV, your television news sources are limited to the local Pittsburgh stations, and even the national news stations (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox) carry Pennsylvania campaign ads. Where do we get news about the candidates and issues most important to us here in Garrett County? We could subscribe to Baltimore or Cumberland newspapers for political news statewide – but where is the news about our Garrett County commissioner race between Judy Carbone and Larry Tichnell? Where is the news about the other locally-contested race for state delegate between Mike Dreisbach and Wendell Beitzel? The only public resource for political news is you, our local newspaper. You have an obligation to inform your readers. We encourage you to begin covering our local and state political campaigns in earnest, in depth, and every week. Cover the candidates’ biographies and positions. Interview each candidate and ask them in-depth questions about the issues. Write about them and invite public comment. Cover campaign events, both before they occur (to encourage citizens to attend) and afterward (to tell us what happened). An informed electorate, as stated by statesmen since Thomas Jefferson, is our best protection against tyranny. And, as Jefferson also stated, a free press is critical. But to make this work, the free press must engage in the political process. --Bob and Mary Helen Spear
  • I submitted a letter to the editor (LTE) at the Garrett County Republican in response to Carol Gnegy's letter I saw two weeks ago. My rebuttal was not published because I was told it did not meet the "guidelines" for a submission. I've written numerous LTEs over the years to the Republican News but it is under new management now. I rewrote and submitted a new letter with a request that it be published before the November 6 General Election. This issue is time-sensitive. If you've been unable to get something published in the Garrett County Republican, you can post it to the Engage Forum. SEE MY LETTER BELOW I’ve known Judy Carbone, Candidate for County Commissioner, for many years.  We haven’t always agreed on issues facing our community, but I am certain that her belief in citizen engagement and her practice of engaging others have always been respectful.  It’s clear from a Letter to the Editor published by you two weeks, “No respectful engagement”, that the letter writer doesn’t know Judy as a candidate nor as an individual. Judy’s career as an educator, counselor, leader and activist has benefited from her skills in listening, understanding different viewpoints, building consensus, and creating plans built on common vision. The very foundation of her robust public engagement platform is the belief that no single person nor isolated group of people have all the answers. We need to capitalize on the vast wealth of talent and wisdom in our community in planning for the County’s future.  Criticizing a candidate for asking for more inclusive engagement is contrary to democracy itself. I would encourage voters to make their assessment about the level of Judy’s “respectful engagement” by asking her directly about her platform and ideas.  In Judy’s many meetings with citizens, as a participant in community forums, and on her interactive Facebook page she has answered questions posed to her with specificity.  Part of her insistence on hearing from others in addition to advocating her own ideas is her belief in building upon citizen input and citizen identified solutions in citizen-guided governance.  Judy has a definite platform and has been very clear on her ideas on how to make local government more accessible, transparent and inclusive; on economic development that focuses on small business development, supporting existing businesses, and creating a vision that guides proactive targeting of growth markets instead reacting to opportunities that may one day appear; on improving workforce development by creating a culture of experiential career education at all levels; and on strong advocacy for our young people and creating a culture of inclusion, acceptance and less division. To answer the questions posed in the letter of two weeks ago, from my many conversations with Judy I know that she does understand…she understands the job of County Commissioner and the function of a representative government.  She understands the complex and often divisive issues facing our community such as property rights, zoning, and the county budget.  Judy understands because she listens to those with a stake in these issues, especially when there are varying interests, perspectives and desired outcomes.  She understands precisely because she listens and engages respectfully. No respectful engagement?  The title of this letter must be speaking of the letter writer’s choice to not engage with the candidate personally for a meaningful conversation about the issues.  I hope she will contact Judy directly and learn for herself what I already know to be true…that Judy is a well-qualified candidate for Commissioner.


We encourage open and honest communication without censorship, however, we ask that there be no use of foul or threatening language. Respectful banter can be a useful tool to learn and promote positive outcomes. Thank you for lending your voice to the community


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