Memorial Day Holiday Travel, Harbor Point, Chesapeake Bay Health, & The Poe House Reopens | WYPR

Memorial Day Holiday Travel, Harbor Point, Chesapeake Bay Health, & The Poe House Reopens

May 23, 2014

Maryland roads will be busy over the next four days, with Memorial Day holiday travel expected to be at its highest level since 2005. The final approval has been given for construction to begin at Baltimore’s Harbor Point. A new report card is out on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The Edgar Allan Poe House is set to reopen tomorrow. Plus: MD’s cigarette tax, plans for a cybersecurity training center at the Naval Academy, and MD’s US Senators call for the Redskins to change their name. And more.

Memorial Day Holiday Travel: Our state’s roads are going to be busy for the next couple days. More than 3/4 of a million Marylanders are expected to travel over the Memorial Day holiday. Triple-A Mid-Atlantic says that’s highest number since 2005. About 89 percent of Maryland travelers will be taking to the roads – as will hundreds of thousands of out-of-state drivers who’ll spend some time in Maryland over the holiday. The Maryland Transportation Authority is expecting that about 1.7 million vehicles will use the state’s toll facilities between today and Monday. If you’re looking to head over the Bay Bridge, you can expect backups during peak times. To avoid a wait, official say you should get to the bridge before 10am, or after 10 o’clock tonight. And there are some new safety procedures at the Bay Bridge. Motorists are now required to use their headlights when crossing either span. There are also warning signs and 40-mile-per-hour speed limit signs posted prior to the curves east and westbound, areas identified by authorities as accident hot-spots.

MD’s Move Over Law: State police are reminding motorists about the state’s “move over” law – which requires drivers to change lanes, or at least slow down, when passing police or emergency workers stopped on the side of the road. A Prince George’s County police officer was injured yesterday morning, when the driver of a minivan apparently failed to follow that law, and crashed into three police cruisers at a traffic stop in Forestville. The injured officer is in serious but stable condition. The Washington Post reports that an investigation into the incident is continuing, but no charges have yet been filed.

Harbor Point: The final approval for construction of Baltimore’s Harbor Point development has been granted, and excavation at the site is expected to begin next week. Yesterday, officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment agreed to let the work begin. The Harbor Point site was home to a chromium ore processing plant through 1985, and the carcinogenic chemical is still in the soil, but buried underneath five feet of clay, gravel and other clean fill. Developers will have to dig through that cap to drive more than 11-hundred pilings into the ground, to support the office tower for energy company Exelon, which will anchor the development. There are still worries that chromium dust could get into the air, but state regulators tell the Baltimore Sun they’ll be at the construction site at key times to monitor conditions… and that if chromium particulate levels rise during the construction, they’ll take measures to stop it.

Chesapeake Health Gets “C” Grade On UMD Report Card: There’s a new report card out on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The annual study, conducted by the University of Maryland, gives Bay health the grade of “C” – which is the same grade the estuary earned last year. The analysis showed that some of the rivers that feed the Bay are in better condition than they were when the last report card was issued. Those rivers include the Patapsco and Back rivers, near Baltimore – while both rivers DID earn “F” grades, they showed some improvements. Researchers suggest that upgrades to sewage treatment plants are nursing those rivers into better health. But many rivers on the Eastern Shore are doing worse, including Delmarva’s largest river, the Choptank. A UMD representative tells the Baltimore Sun that the declining rivers drain agricultural land… and that fertilizer and chicken manure runoff are to blame for those rivers’ problems.

Cardin Says Its Dangerous For Him To Visit Ukraine - But He's Going Anyway: WYPR's Joel McCord and Karen Hosler talk about Sen. Ben Cardin's trip to the Ukraine this weekend to monitor elections, and what a delegation of U.S. nationals hopes to accomplish with the trip. It’s this morning’s look Inside Maryland Politics.

MD’s Cigarette Tax: Health care advocates say that more than 200 General Assembly candidates support the proposal to raise the state's cigarette tax from two-dollars to three-dollars a pack. The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative is planning to release the names of the candidates supporting the idea at a pair of events next Wednesday in Baltimore and Takoma Park. The coalition says the aim of the cigarette tax hike is to reduce teen smoking and fund health care and public health needs. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.

Funding For Cybersecurity Training Facility At The Naval Academy Advances: The US Naval Academy in Annapolis would be home to a new cybersecurity training facility, under legislation that cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. US Senator Barbara Mikulski chairs that Committee. Funding for the $120-million facility was included in a $72-billion bill that directs funding for Veterans Affairs programs and construction in military bases. Senator Mikulski says that the bill will also help reduce a backlog in veterans’ claims. The Baltimore Sun reports that groundbreaking on the cybersecurity training facility could come as early as 2016. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.

Hagel To Deliver Commencement Address At Naval Academy: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivers the commencement address during this morning's ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy. Hagel is the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Pentagon. He served as an Army squad leader in Vietnam. The former Republican senator from Nebraska took over as Defense Secretary in February of last year. The commencement ceremony begins at ten o'clock at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Washington Post has more.

O’Malley Delivers UMD Commencement Address: Some 36-hundred students at the University of Maryland College Park graduated yesterday. 14-thousand family members and friends were on hand at the Comcast Center for yesterday’s graduation ceremonies… as was Governor Martin O’Malley, who delivered a commencement address. On the less serious side, the governor joined the selfie craze, snapping a somewhat out-of-focus cellphone photo of himself and university President Wallace Loh.

Poe House Reopens: The Edgar Allan Poe house in West Baltimore will open its doors again tomorrow. The site was closed in 2012, after the City cut funding for the museum. It briefly opened last year during free fall Baltimore. And starting tomorrow, the Amity Street house where Poe lived from 1833 to 1835 will be open on weekends from late May through late December. The Baltimore Business Journal notes that the Poe House is now under management of the new nonprofit “Poe Baltimore.”

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles lost last night’s 13-inning game against the Cleveland Indians; the final score was 8 to 7. The two teams continue their four game series tonight; first pitch set for 7:05pm at Camden Yards.

Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals lost yesterday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates; the score there: 3 to 1.

Lacrosse Final Four: The NCAA lacrosse Final Four is set to take place at M&T Bank Stadium tomorrow. Top-seeded Duke meets Denver in the first contest starting at 1:00. The following game features Maryland against Notre Dame. The winners will meet Monday in the title game.

MD Senators Call For Redskins Name Change: The names of Maryland's two US senators are included on a letter urging the commissioner of the NFL to back a name change for the Washington Redskins. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin are among 50 senators who signed the letter, saying the name is a racial slur. The Redskins play their home games in Maryland. NPR has more.