BALTIMORE — "I’ve been cooped up in the house. I was just ready to get out," said Baltimore resident Kelly.
After 35 days in quarantine, many people are ready to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather at Baltimore City parks.
"Today was a day I really needed some mental wellness and I just wanted some fresh air," said Kelly.
But with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, Baltimore City started a pilot program to promote social distancing while getting people outside and exercising.
"We were hearing from people the weather’s getting nice, they wanna come out and they want to be able to enjoy themselves," said Mayor Jack Young.
It's called the Slow Streets Pilot Program. Starting Monday, May 4, all roads circulating Lake Montebello are closed so that people can walk and bike around the lake while staying 6 feet apart.
"People can enjoy themselves and I want them to feel that we are listening and we care but we also want to make sure we are slowing the spread of COVID-19," said Young.
After seeing the pilot succeed at Druid Hill Park, the Department of Public Works and the Department of transportation identified Lake Montebello as another spot.
“As the weather continues to change, DOT is taking action to help maintain and protect the health of our residents,” Department of Transportation Director Steve Sharkey said. “This new addition to our pilot program creates more options and opportunities for our residents to exercise as the city works to maintain and protect the health of our residents.”
“While we have always welcomed walkers and bicyclists to enjoy Lake Montebello, we must practice social distancing and respect the neighborhood,” Acting Department of Public Works Director Matthew Garbark said. “We are excited to partner with the Department of Transportation on the expansion of their Slow Streets Pilot Program which promotes social distancing in a responsible way.”
Young the residential streets immediately next to the lake are open for local access only and people should be considerate about parking.
The following streets have been impacted by soft closures:
All roadways circulating Lake Montebello closed, including Whitman Drive and Curran Drive
Detour using E. 32nd Street and Harford Road
Closure of Curran Drive to vehicular traffic. Entrances to park are closed at Whitman Drive and Lake Montebello Drive and/or Chesterfield Avenue (options depend on construction contractor)
There will be no vehicular access to Lake Montebello Drive. Neighborhood outlet at Lake Montebello Terrace.
Local Access Only:
Residential streets immediately adjacent to Lake Montebello will be utilized for local access only.
The city will monitor the success of both pilots before expanding.