Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Last Wednesday's Focus Group

Here is a quick rundown of some of the interesting things that came up at Wednesday’s Focus Group meeting on Downtown Columbia (Note: Please feel free to add anything I missed in the comments section):

  • Mark DeLuca, Traffic Chief in the Department of Public Works, gave a very informative run through of the current major intersections in downtown Columbia and the challenges each will have moving forward.
  • The state has a new mark up plan for South Entrance Road to make it more utilized. I will try to post it as soon as I find an online version. If anyone knows where a link to it is please email me.
  • Mark DeLuca mentioned that it is common place in Montgomery County for drivers to have to wait through multiple light cycles at traffic lights, but that we don’t want that in Howard County because that would adversely effect our community’s quality of life.
  • They are putting a cross walk and pedestrian signals at the Little Patuxent Parkway/Harpers Farm Road intersection.
  • I asked Mark DeLuca about the zigzag problems with the proposed grid plan that I blogged about before. He said that if that would be the final version that would be a problem, but that the street layout was still an early sketch. I hope to see this fixed in future sketched. Mark DeLuca also said that part of the problem is working around existing structure. This is something I completely agree with. Given the current structures like the Mall and new buildings that will not be changed anytime in the near future as well as the topography and the lake there is not very much room to create a real functioning grid. At some point we have to make a determination if a grid can be created on the terrain we have that will achieve what they say they want it to achieve.
  • Parking concerns were raised and there was widespread sentiment expressed by both members of the focus group and the audience that the current structured garages are full and concern about the implications of this situation moving forward.
  • Dick Talkin raised the issue of grid networks working around Camden Yards, but it seems to me that what works about Camden Yards is the easy exit onto highways after events to quickly move traffic out of the area.
  • George Miller from the State Highway Administration said that a 3rd northbound lane is in the concept planning stage for Rt. 29 from the Little Patuxent River to Rt. 175, but construction has not been funded yet.
  • A new Focus Group meeting was added for Wednesday, February 22nd from 3pm to 5:30pm, in addition the already planned Focus Group meeting on Wednesday, February 15th from 3pm to 5:30pm.
  • The proposed plan will be presented to the public on February 27th at 7pm at the Spear Center (former Rouse Building) at the Lake Front. It is my understanding that there will be an opportunity for the public to give feedback at that time. I highly encourage everyone to come to this meeting and let the county know what you think of the current plan.