County Executive Calvin Ball hosted a virtual Transportation Town Hall on Wednesday evening to discuss transportation safety, Complete Streets, future projects, and more. Ball was joined by County officials from the Office of Transportation, Department of Public Works, Howard County Police Department and the Regional Transportation Agency. To view a recording of the town hall, please click here. To view the presentation slides, please click here.  

“Throughout this year, many of our residents have shifted to working from home and are spending more time in our neighborhoods and our community,” said Ball. “The impact on transportation has been profound, with massive changes for travel, work, and school patterns. Some of these changes may be long-lasting, and some will not, but no matter what this pandemic has highlighted the urgency of our transportation projects and priorities.” 

The panel of speakers addressed current trends in transportation safety and commuting and shared the status of many priority projects to improve intersections and complete sidewalks.  The Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) noted record capital investments to improve the vehicle fleet, and the implementation real-time bus arrival information allowing customers to see nearby routes based on their location, a trip planner, and service alerts. Since 2017 there has also been an additional $775,000 in bus stop improvements including: 

·       ADA landing pads 

·       Sidewalk and curb ramp connections 

·       Continued coordination with Complete Streets efforts 

·       New shelter design with improved access and integrated solar lighting 

“During the past year, the Transit System serving Howard County residents has been challenged by changes in funding, difficult operating conditions for our drivers and a dramatic dip in ridership but has also benefited from a focus on technology with new real time bus information and upcoming implementation of a mobile payment system,” said Cristin Tolen, General Manager for the Regional Transportation Agency. “These improvements and the County’s record level of investment in vehicles continue to ensure that RTA service is more accessible and convenient.” 

Howard County and the RTA is also planning upcoming improvements that include: 

·       Real-time bus arrival information allowing customers to see nearby routes based on their location, a trip planner, and service alerts 

·       Mobile ticketing, removing the need for cash 

·       Automated bus stop annunciators, improving access for riders with visual and/or hearing impairments 

“Creating a safe and efficient multimodal transportation system is a team effort as evidenced by presentations offered by Office of Transportation, Police Department, Department of Public Works and Regional Transit Agency representatives at our second annual Transportation Town Hall,” said Bruce Gartner, Office of Transportation Administrator. “The past year has been a difficult one but the dedication of everyone involved in these efforts has been apparent with the accomplishments highlighted this evening and our plans for the years to come.” 

The Department of Public Works (DPW) highlighted projects that were completed this year, including: 

·       Guilford Road intersection improvements at Vollmerhausen Road/Mary Lane 

·       Mini-roundabout construction on Columbia Road at Hemlock Cone Way/Kingscup Court 

·       Mini-roundabout construction on Steven’s Forest Road, at Farewell Road/Night Street Court 

·       Reconstructed traffic signals at seven intersections throughout Howard County 

·       New crosswalk with pedestrian refuge on Old Annapolis at Waterford Drive 

“Thank you to our residents for participating in the event and providing valuable feedback and comments,” said Tom Meunier, Director of the Department of Public Works. “Engaging with the community directly through this town hall helps us share the transportation projects that we are currently working on and to show you where your tax dollars are getting spent. I also want to recognize the DPW staff that has worked to keep these projects moving especially during this pandemic.” 

DPW’s Bureau of Highways also shared the 2020 resurfacing projects that were completed: 

·       39.15 lane miles of resurfacing 

·       8773 tons of patching 

·       12.52 centerline miles of microsurfacing 

·       3.83 centerline miles of cracksealing 

The Howard County Police Department noted that excessive speed is increasingly a contributing factor to fatal collisions this year at 43% compared to 31% for 2015-2019. 

“Even in 2020 with fewer vehicles on the road due to the pandemic, we have seen an increase in fatal collisions,” said Howard County Police Department Captain Justin Baker. “This is a reminder that everyone must do their part to make transportation safety a priority. To learn more, check out the Traffic Safety link at hcpd.org 

“In the past year, Howard County made great strides towards Complete Streets and improving accommodations for walking and biking,” shared Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Office of Transportation. “In the areas of transportation planning and policy, there is a new WalkHoward Pedestrian Master Plan, Complete Streets Community Engagement Plan, Transportation Improvement Prioritization System and an improved policy for adding sidewalks on public property along county roads. In addition, several key infrastructure projects were recently completed, such as new crosswalks at the Little Patuxent Parkway and Cedar Lane intersection and new sidewalk along Doncaster Drive. There are also thirty two active bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects, twenty one of which are scheduled for completion by 2022. This includes the North Laurel Connections project, for which the County received a grant of over five hundred thousand dollars through the Kim Lamphier Maryland Bikeways Program.” 

“Thank you for attending the transportation townhall and letting us share a little information on how the county is planning for our future transportation needs,” said David Cookson, Transportation Planning Manager for the Office of Transportation. “We look forward to continuing to work with community members and our partners to ensure our transportation infrastructure is safe and equitable for all.” 

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Scott E

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