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Maugans Ave: Expect Delays in Roadwork

May 03, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

In Washington County's defense, the sign wasn't big enough.

You can only put so many words onto those electronic highway postings so there's hardly room for a full explanation.

For the past few weeks, the north-end signs have warned: "Maugans Ave. Roadwork; Expect Delays 4/30."

That's about the best you can do, under the circumstances.

There was hardly the space to advise:

"Maugans Ave. Roadwork; Expect Delays 4/30, However This Is Washington County After All, So When We Say 4/30, That Is Only A Suggested Start Time, And To Be Honest About It - If History Is Any Guide - There Is About As Much Chance That It Will Start On Time As There Is That 'The View' Will Hire A Dude To Replace Rosie O'Donnell If You Know What We're Saying, So Take This Warning With A Grain Of Salt Because In Reality It Is Unlikely You Will Notice Any Construction Before Mid-Summer, And Even Then We Reserve The Right To Say 'Screw It' And Put Off The Entire Project Until Next Year, Because, Well, That's Just The Way We Do Things Around Here."

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Electronic road signs are not conducive to full disclosure.

For the record, Washington County says this is not its fault. It blames Verizon for failing to move a junction box, or something. Verizon disagrees, saying it knows nothing about any such timetable.

So who do we believe, a local government or a phone company?

Whew, tough decision. Good luck with that one. This is like asking, "Who brings the most leadership skills to the locker room, Terrell Owens or Randy Moss?"

In fairness, I haven't dealt with Verizon in ages, so I've forgotten all the spites I used to hold against them. But phone companies in general have always been a little squirrely, in my experience.

I won't mention that name of the carrier that Cingular I use now, but the signature moment occurred a couple of years ago when I called with a simple service request that quickly broke down into an adventure into the surreal:

"I'd like to add a line, please."

"Certainly, and where are you calling from?"

"Hagerstown, Maryland."

(Lengthy pause.)

"Uh, sir? I'm sorry, but we don't offer coverage there."

"No kidding?"

"No. I'm sorry."

"All right. So just to be clear, this Cingular phone that I am talking to you on at this very moment and the Cingular bill that I pay every month do not actually exist and are either figments of my imagination or reside only in some parallel-universe time warp?"

(Lengthier pause.)

"Sir? I checked again, and I'm still showing that we don't serve that area."

"I see. Just curious, what area around here DO you serve?"

"Well, we cover a place called 'Rockville' in Maryland."

"Yeah, I know. Ha, ha, I was just jacking with you; I'm actually in Rockville. Now can I add another line?"

(Brightly) "Oh, ha-ha, yes, of course you can. I just need to get your billing number and ..."

So I have this residual distrust of phone companies in general. And yet, it is not like Washington County doesn't have a serious track record here.

This could be another Broadfording Bridge situation. What did that take, about three years to trowel a little cement into the stonework? And that was better than the Robinwood bypass, which, after an exhaustive planning process, never got built at all.

Plus, lest we forget, the Maugans Avenue adventure itself is already under a cloud - the project came in $3 million more than expected because the county forgot to hire a flagman.

So as we sit, the Vegas board looks something like this: Odds that construction will actually begin at some point: 4-1; odds that construction will actually end at some point: 8-1; odds that construction will take a lot longer than expected: Even money.

Yes, in a county that still exists in a 1920s kind of way, it wins the blame game, in my view. On the bright side, I'm not going to worry about being inconvenienced until I see, with my own two eyes, the county steam shovel turn up the first bucket of soil.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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