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The cost of blocking the box

Baltimore eyes $125 fine for blocking intersection
Posted at 5:54 AM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 17:42:46-04

Inching through traffic is the norm in Baltimore, but gambling on getting through an intersection may carry a steep price in the future.
    
Initially, Mayor Catherine Pugh suggested matching state law with a $90 fine and a point off your driver’s license.
    
A second proposal bumped it up to $250 with no points, but City Councilman Eric Costello says citizens pushed back on that idea calling it too punitive.

"The penalty for Block the Box will be $125,” said Costello, “The council voted to reduce that from $250.  It will also carry "0" points on your license.  There's been a lot of frustration and concern voiced to us over gridlock, especially downtown, and a lot of that is caused by Blocking the Box.  It impedes pedestrian access."
    
Drivers operating on the notion that ‘as long as they enter the intersection before the light turns red’ will be in for a big surprise and a fine to match.

"Technically, if you're impeding access to the crosswalk in any way, shape or form once the light is red, you would be in violation of blocking the box,” explained Costello, “So that's a decision that a driver needs to make as they're approaching the intersection, 'Do I have enough time to safely cross through?'"
    
The proposed intersection enforcement is on hold until the city synchs up its traffic lights, and that could take tens of millions of dollars.

"The administration has reached out to the state for support on that and my understanding is the Department of Transportation is slowly chipping away at some of those traffic signal synchronization issues," Costello added.

Unlike the cameras that catch motorists speeding or running red lights, it would be up to traffic enforcement officers to ticket people for blocking the box... And it remains unclear at this point how they could pull people over and issue them a citation without adding to the very gridlock they're trying to address.