Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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The aspect I enjoy most about my job is that I learn something new every day. On Wednesday, when trying to figure out whether my wife should drive her Chevy Tahoe over a failing Route 90 bridge, I became familiar with the weights of vehicles. In the case of a Tahoe, it weighs about 6,500 pounds compared to a Honda Accord, which weighs around 3,500 pounds, and a standard short-bed pickup truck’s 5,000 pounds. All of this is relevant after a structural deficiency was reported on the eastern most span of the Route 90 Bridge.

As a result of a routine inspection finding a “center girder over the boat channel was found to have failing pre-cast concrete”, according to the State Highway Administration’s Donnie Drewer, crews set up a couple signs alerting motorists of the potential dangers of driving across the span if your vehicles weighs more than 6,000 pounds.

The release issued this week said, “all vehicles with a collective weight (including trailer and boats) of 6,000 pounds or greater will NOT have access to the MD 90 bridge and will be directed to alternate routes.” I wonder how many motorists know exactly how much their vehicle weighs. Some may be surprised to know their car or truck exceeds that threshold. Let’s just hope quick action is taken to address the issue and in the interim the decision makers should just close it down until everything is figured out.

Two weeks ago, a loggerhead turtle was released to the ocean after being rehabilitated for more than a year at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. That was a feel-good story, but in stark contrast to what we saw last weekend when a much larger and decapitated loggerhead turtle washed ashore. This serves as a harsh reminder that things seem to even out in nature. As far as “Flight and Release,” the name given to the turtle released last month, it has traveled 122 miles as of Sept. 30 at 1 a.m. from Assateague Island State Park At that time, it was located off Broadwater, Va. and the tracking route shows it has made it as far south as the Norfolk area.

Yet another blow for small business is expected to come next year because the unemployment insurance trust fund has been depleted to historic lows. Unemployment costs for employers will surge to unprecedented levels, even if employers are good performers and are not firing employees because they are not busy enough. It was reported this week a business of 25 employees that has a solid “experience rating,” meaning it has not laid off any employees over the last year, would be paying approximately $150 more annually per employee, meaning that company’s unemployment insurance alone will increase by $3,750 next year. Employers that were forced to downsize as a result of economic woes could see annual costs jump to $350 or more per employee.

Call me a pessimist, but I do not think Maryland’s new text messaging ban while driving will deter too many motorists. Effective Thursday, drivers will be staring at a possible fine of up to $500 if they are caught sending a text message while driving. It’s interesting to me that it’s not illegal to read a text while driving. This little known fact tells me people will still continue to text while driving, but the hope seems to be if it cuts down on the frequency then the bill has been a success. That sounds ‘g8 2 me’.

Another bill that became law yesterday was one impacting the lives of teen drivers. When I turned 16, it was a memorable day. My mother and I went to the MVA in Salisbury after weeks of practicing three-point turns and parallel parking. There was a lot of fingernail biting that day, but I passed and was able to drive by myself that day. Sixteen-year-olds nowadays do not have that luxury. Thanks to the new law, they will have to wait even longer before obtaining a provisional license, which allows them to drive alone but with time restrictions. The new law adds three months of wait, meaning new drivers will have to be 16 years and six months old before getting a provisional license and 18 before they get a full license.

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