Ken Beal, Urbana
DG: When in doubt, a driver could always choose to obey the speed limit. That would pretty much eliminate the chances of getting a speeding ticket in any jurisdiction under any circumstances.
Maryland happens to have a law limiting the use of speed-enforcement cameras that says drivers must be going at least 12 mph over the posted speed limit for a ticket to be issued. Enforcement cameras are particularly controversial among drivers, who also happen to be voters. The Maryland General Assembly was willing to approve camera enforcement but only with the 12 mph buffer for allowable misbehavior.
The District, which also uses speed cameras, has no such buffer in its law.
Police officers everywhere — including the ones whose presence is such a downer for drivers on Maryland’s new Intercounty Connector — don’t face a 12 mph limit on their powers, and their tickets are a lot more expensive to pay than Maryland’s $40 speed-camera citations.
Drivers in Maryland might encounter the speed cameras in highway work zones. There’s a zone on the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring where the State Highway Administration is rehabilitating the bridge over the Northwest Branch.
The state sometimes lowers the speed limit in a work zone for safety reasons. That wasn’t the case in the Beltway work zone. There, the speed limit remains 55 mph. In any of the work zones with camera enforcement, drivers see several warning signs posting the speed limit and reading, “SPEED PHOTO ENFORCED.”
Despite signs, the consistent work-zone speed limit and the Beltway congestion that makes accelerating to the speed limit a challenge during many hours, state records show that 30,986 drivers managed to generate tickets from cameras between August and December.
On the upside, the camera tickets seem to have an effect: In August, 12,001 citations were issued. No other month had half that total.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Of the three escalators at the Ballston-MU Metro Station leading riders to trains heading to the District during the morning rush hour, two are always ascending. The only one going down is farthest from the entrances with the Metro Farecard vending machines. This makes no sense in terms of either volume of passengers or Metro’s stated goal of spreading riders along the entire length of the cars. At a minimum, Metro should just stop the first escalator, allowing it to be used as stairs in either direction.
Ralph Ives, Alexandria
DG: I hear similar complaints about escalators from many riders at stations with various configurations. The up-down pattern doesn’t strike them as logical.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told me recently that many of the transit system’s escalators are in a two-up, one-down configuration regardless of the time of day. There are several reasons, he said.