March-April 2012 | March-April 2012

Since You Asked: March-April 2012

Questions and answers about the Bethesda area.

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What portion of the Montgomery County budget is allocated to tree maintenance? What is the process to get a dying tree taken down? How does the tree replacement cycle work?
—Elizabeth Brennan, Kensington

The county’s tree maintenance budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, is $2.1 million, county spokeswoman Esther Bowring says. The budget covers the removal and pruning of trees in the county’s right-of-way—usually the area bordering a county road or bikeway that’s occupied by storm drains, power lines or telephone lines.

Residents can request that an arborist inspect a tree for possible removal by dialing the county’s 311 call center. After the inspection, the arborist lets the resident know, often via a placard hung on a front door, whether the tree will be removed, Bowring says.

Residents can request the planting of a replacement tree by calling 311 again. A removed tree isn’t automatically replaced, she says, because some residents don’t want a new one.

Residents who want a tree planted in a county right-of-way can call 311 anytime—even if a tree hasn’t been removed from the spot. The county allows a wide variety of tree species to be planted, Bowring says.

What kind of construction are they doing on the Beltway? When will it be done? How much money has the county or state made from that speed camera
—Jesse Kornblum, Silver Spring

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is replacing the deck of a 44-year-old Beltway bridge over the Northwest Branch between New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard, says spokeswoman Lora Rakowski. The $7.9-million project started last May and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

Last August, the SHA began using an automated speed camera at that location, and 27,331 citations were issued from August through the end of November, Rakowski says. The camera is no longer active at that site.

Rakowski says the SHA believes a speed camera is effective in getting drivers to slow down, noting that 12,829 citations were issued in August alone, while only 4,293 were issued in November. The drop in citations shows that a speed camera is effective in getting people to slow down before a work zone, “and that creates a safer environment for not only our workers, but for those traveling through work zones, as well,” Rakowski says.

Rakowski says it’s not possible to track revenues that a speed camera generates by site. According to Valerie Burnette Edgar, SHA director of communications, the citation fine is $40, but multiplying the number of citations issued by $40 doesn’t account for operating costs, unpaid tickets or contested tickets that were reduced in price by a judge.

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