As the day dawns for those contemplating a commute into Baltimore, there's good news: It should be better than Tuesday's slow crawl. The bad news? Maybe not by much.
Commuters will continue to face issues of constricted roads where lanes remain impassable, though likely not as many as they did on the first day of full-fledged commuter traffic since the meteorological mugging began Feb. 5.
But some problems might not abate quickly: garbage trucks stopping in the middle of the street because they can't use the curb lanes; potholes that are uncovered as snow is scraped away; and neighborhood streets where plows have been able only to tamp down the snow to make the roads passable, rather than driver-friendly.
And schools will reopen today, adding a fleet of big yellow buses to the traffic mix.
Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said she understood residents' frustration but urged patience and understanding in the aftermath of the storms. "The city has never seen anything like this. It continues to be a difficult and inconvenient time."
Commuters who don't get an early start could face a repeat of what Tammie Monaco went through Tuesday on Interstate 83 and other roads. Monaco, who works for LifeBridge Health at Sinai Hospital, wrote that it took an hour and a half to make a trip that usually takes a half-hour.
"Coming down from Upperco in northern Baltimore County, I tried Falls Road, gave up on that and got on 83. Even 83 was terrible so I got off and got on Falls Road again. Falls was at a standstill so I did a U-turn and got back on 83. Geez! Did people who took last week off forget how to drive?!? Or did those few little flurries put people over the edge?!?"
Commuters driving from virtually every direction encountered long delays.
From the south, there were huge traffic jams on Interstate 95 and Russell Street. Interstate 95 was backed up to the Beltway, apparently because of a bottleneck at Conway Street, where the normal two right-turn lanes were squeezed to one - further narrowing a bottleneck at a spot where morning backups are common.
On the west side, bumper-to-bumper traffic greeted drivers from the Catonsville area as soon as they crossed the city line on Edmondson Avenue (U.S. 40). Only two of the three eastbound lanes were open, and in some spots that was narrowed to one because of snow-clearing operations.
It wasn't much better in the York Road corridor, where road and utility repairs rerouted traffic.
Cameron Barry of Rodgers Forge said he left his home at 8 a.m. to go downtown in time to teach his 9:30 a.m. class at the University of Baltimore - usually a 20-minute trip. By 9:15, he had to call in and cancel the class because he hadn't made it farther than Homeland Avenue.
Finally, after several other setbacks trying to get down Greenmount Avenue and Charles Street, he decided to call it quits.
Chopper said city transportation officials were delayed in digging out the remaining lanes of main arteries because they spent much of the weekend concentrating on schools for what they thought would be a return of students Tuesday. It was only late Monday that they learned they had a day's reprieve, she said.
Removing the remaining snow has become a time-consuming task - digging it out and hauling it away by dump truck, Chopper said. On many secondary streets, plowing just won't work.
"We just can't put a plow on them and put the blade down to the roadway and push that snow out. It's just too deep," she said.
Asked when all the snow might be gone from small neighborhood roads, she said: "Perhaps when spring comes and melts all the snow away."
Chopper said that as far as she knew, all of the city's streets had received at least one pass of a snowplow - after days in which many residents reported their streets hadn't been touched. "A lot of people are complaining because they're expecting to see blacktop," she said. "With this amount of snow, they're just not going to see that."