Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Sunday, January 22, 2006


During the charrette the consultant tried to make a case for having a grid road network downtown. The idea they tried to sell was that by creating a grid you increase routes people can take, thus spreading out traffic and allowing the road system to handle a higher volume of traffic. Sounds like a great theory, but like everything else in life the details matter. To plop a bunch of intersecting roads down on a map to create a block structure does not create a grid system that accomplishes the theory’s desired expedited traffic. People are always going to take the easiest route between where they are and where they want to go. Roads that don’t connect car destinations will not be desirable to drivers. Roads that force drivers to zigzag from road to road to cut through will not be used by drivers.

Let’s look at the proposed “Urban Design Plan Street Framework”:

Look at the number of zigzags and dead end streets are on the north end of downtown under the plan:

How will a driver navigate these interchanges and many others (if I added green circles for each problem intersection they would block out the street framework)?

The more changes of roads a driver must make the harder it is for drivers not familiar with the area to find their way to where they are going. As we all know people from outside Columbia are constantly complaining of getting lost in Columbia. Will a grid system fix this? Not if it is made up of short non-through streets that people have to zigzag. I count at least a dozen streets that are only one block long and that doesn’t count the two or three block long streets. Then there are the Y-shaped intersections that will confuse drivers.

Little Patuxent Parkway is still the only north-south road that doesn’t require additional turns.

The only new east-west through street is the Corporate Boulevard.

Will this plan really satisfy the “grid” concept to achieve the results of the consultant’s theory?