November 29, 2023

Thousands of roads across Baltimore County will be scanned by workers with a 3D laser for the first time to better understand roadway conditions. The county expects to use the data to target the roads in the worst condition for upcoming repairs. The move is to ensure the county is prioritizing roads in an objective way instead of simply driving along to gauge the quality of roads.

But Baltimore County Council members still want a say over which potholes are ultimately filled and whether roads get repaved.

Each year, county workers typically take a long drive and rate the condition of roadways based on their experiences.

Kristina Lewis, a contract specialist with the county’s office of information technology, told the county council that approach is subjective and using the 3D laser will change that.

“This analysis will allow the county to prioritize spending and pave the most critical areas first,” Lewis said.

Council members hear plenty from constituents complaining about county roads. They have referred to it as the ‘bread and butter’ of local politics. So Democratic Council Chairman Julian Jones made it clear to Lewis that they don’t want to be cut out of the process.

“We all know our roads better than anyone and we will be more than happy as we always do to tell you where you need to pave first and quickly,” Jones said.

Republican Councilman David Marks added, “We are elected to represent our constituents who have many opinions on roads that need to be improved. So I would hope that this administration and future administrations would continue to take those opinions.”

Marks also asked the administration to add ratings assigned to roadways on the county’s website in addition to details of the long-term resurfacing program.

“I certainly do agree that getting an appropriate estimate of life cycle costs for the entire road network is an admirable goal,” Marks said.

The county is hiring the firm O’Connell & Lawrence Inc., an engineering and consulting firm in Olney, Maryland to assess the roads. It will cost the county as much as $520,000. The county council is expected to vote on the contract at its September 6 meeting.

According to the company’s website, it can collect road data and images while traveling up to 60 miles per hour which “allows us to safely collect images at highway speeds without disrupting traffic.”

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