In 2005, my husband and I were approached by the builder planning to build four homes on four of the last undeveloped lots.  The Department of Permitting Services was requiring the developer to construct the first 100 feet of Fawsett Road to County standards and to put a stormwater swale along our frontage and a culvert under our driveway.  We agreed hoping that it might be a first step toward further improvements along the rest of the road. 

I’m a busy body, and I watched the road construction progress with interest.  One day, I stopped to talk with the County roads inspector.  He looked down our road and said, “I can’t believe your road is in this condition!”  I explained its history and about the reason for the $250,000 in the budget.  He snorted in disbelief and said that DOT knew what they had in their inventory.  All they had to do was study the “MAARS Report.”  “MAARS Report” I asked?  “Yeh,” he replied: the Maryland Accident Analysis Reporting System.  “Just call my boss and ask to see the MAARS Report!”

Mr. Anderson was loath to let me look at this document.  First, he said DOT didn’t have it.  Then he admitted that it was there but said I couldn’t see it.  When I pointed out that it was a public document, he explained that it was an old, printed copy, and he didn’t want me to see it.  A challenge!  I emailed Arthur Holmes, the Director of DOT, and complained that I was not being allowed to see public information.  The next day Mr. Anderson called me and invited me in.  

The next day I turned up at DOT with lined tablet in hand.  The MAARS Report for Montgomery County turned out to be the old fashioned computer print outs – about 4 inches of them.  It contained detailed information on every publicly dedicated road in the County and who was responsible for its maintenance: the Feds, State, County or an amorphous group maintained by “others”.  I started at the beginning (alphabetically) with the “A” roads and wrote down each road that was supposedly

“maintained by others.”  Just the “A”s took all afternoon.  A mugs game!  But I had the presence of mind to note down the name of the State Highway Administration office and phone number which produced the Report.  The next day I called that office and asked very politely if they could send me electronically just the data covering the roads “maintained by others.”  They were delighted to help me out, and 15 minutes later I had what I needed in my computer.  My husband massaged the data and gave me an alphabetical listing. Working together, we took the ADC Map for the County and highlighted each road on its map grid.  Map 2 showed Hyattstown and Prescott Roads in the Little Bennett Regional Park.  But that was just the start, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

To be continued.

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect formal positions adopted by the Federation.  To submit an 800-1,000 word column for consideration, please send an email attachment to montgomerycivic@yahoo.com. 

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