Sunday, March 21, 2010

TAGS Hail Mary Pass

I received an email from Russ Swatek late Friday. It wasn’t exactly a personal note; it didn’t even have a greeting. It simply started with “Taxpayers Against Giveaways” and went on to explain that “TAG is helping the citizens of Howard County get a responsible plan to revitalize downtown Columbia without massive burdens on taxpayers and on downtown roads and interchanges.”

The email goes to promote a DIY approach to supporting their anti Town Center agenda:

“Latest News: It is now possible for those who want to sign the petition to Referendum of Council Bill 59-2009 to:
1. Print the Petition to Referendum form yourself.
2. Sign the form (you can be your own witness).
3. Optionally solicit the signatures of family, friends and neighbors. Registered voter data is available for your street or neighborhood so you know how many voters are at each address and their registered names.
4. U.S. Mail the signed form back to TAG.”

I am guessing from this email that TAG is a little under the gun to get the first batch of qualified signatures in before the deadline. Why else would they be emailing this to me?

I suspect it was sent to every email address they could muster up. It’s a Hail Mary pass to the end zone.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dennis,

Thanks for bringing attention to this important matter. For yourself, others like you who live far afield from Columbia, and interested parties who actually do live in Columbia, please feel free to review a more complete presentation of Taxpayers Against Giveaways materials on their website. As I'm sure you already know, the bad traffic outcome isn't limited to just Town Center or even western Columbia and Route 29 itself.

People who live on or rely on any of the following roads should also get the facts quickly if they haven't already:
- Route 108 from Clarksville to 29
- Harpers Farm Road to 108
- Elliots Oak Road from Harpers Farm to 108
- West Durham Road and Beaverbrook Road to 108
- West Running Brook Road from LPP to 108
- Columbia Road leading from LPP to 108
- Ten Oaks Road from Columbia Road to 108
- roads leading north from 108 (Homewood Lane, Centenntial Lane, Old Annapolis Road, Columbia Road) whose folks use 108 to get to 29 who will be delayed by significantly increased traffic on 108
- Cedar Lane from Hickory Ridge to 32
- Hickory Ridge Road from Broken Land to Cedar Lane
- Martin Road from Hickory Ridge to Shaker Drive
- Brokenland Parkway from LPP to 32


Anonymous said...

Here's why: from the developer's own Generalized Traffic Study's section entitled "Traffic Diversion" (page 45):

"...As the Town Center is urbanized, both in terms of density and the character of the streets, congestion and travel times will increase. Motorists currently traveling through Town Center will instead have more incentive to use alternate routes around the Town Center. This shift in travel pattern is reflected in traffic diversions incorporated in the total future traffic forecasts.

Fifty percent of the vehicles traveling between Little Patuxent Parkway west of Town Center and Governor Warfield Parkway were re-assigned to alternate routes, such as Harpers Farm Road.
[Notice the phrase "such as", meaning roads like Ten Mills, West Running Brook, Beaverbrook, Eliots Oak, and Columbia Roads may be also subjected to traffic diverted away from Town Center's density increase. That doesn't sound like fun for those neighborhoods, commuters from those areas, or commuters from places like River Hill and other neighborhoods along, north of, and further west on 108.]

Similarly, 50 percent of the vehicles traveling between Hickory Ridge Road and Broken Land Parkway were reassigned to alternate routes, such as Cedar Lane. ["such as" indicating perhaps Martin Road and Shaker Drive are expected to incur additional diverted traffic, too?] Additionally 30 percent of the vehicles traveling between Broken Land Parkway and Little Patuxent Parkway west of Town Center were reassigned to Hickory Ridge Road"." [Meaning residents of Hickory Ridge will get to enjoy similar increases of traffic through their neighborhoods, too.]

So while the developer acknowledges and actually uses the assumption of traffic diversion through those surrounding neighborhoods and outlying roads, thereby reducing the amount of traffic they estimated at the few intersections actually included in their most recent traffic study, keep in mind the few traffic studies that were done were limited to only portions of Town Center and ignored including study of that assumed traffic's impacts on almost all of the roads listed above.

So, about what volume of traffic is being estimated to be added to Town Center's roads? Well, the developer's traffic study claims just the busiest hour of the morning rush hour and the busiest hour of the evening rush hour would see a combined 21,680 additional daily trips, with only a meager 1,872 of those trips being by foot, bike, or bus. What happened to the claims of achieving a walkable Town Center? And that only covers 2 of 24 hours of the day.

Do we really want commuter and business spillover traffic being diverted onto neighborhood roads? That certainly seems a dangerous and unwanted erosion of Rouse's rehumanized city.

Do we want delayed commutes and existing primary and collector roads to be congested beyond their capacities? That sure doesn't seem to be 'smart' growth.

Many of us live here exactly because we don't want traffic hell on a daily basis and know keeping our neighborhood roads safe shouldn't be sacrificed.

Anonymous said...

Here's the real issue. Traffic is going to get worse and worse and worse in and around Howard County even if not one new home is built. We are at the crossroads of the State of Maryland. The traffic on our main arterials (Routes 29, 100, 32, etc.) are clogged with people who live outside of Howard County!

So, what's the solution? There are two answers. One is to find better ways to move people in and around our region. That means getting people out of their cars and into public/mass transportation options. That won't happen so long as people may drive comfortably from one point to another. It also means we need to start walking the walk... we need to incorporate smart growth design into our communities. That's why the plan for downtown Columbia works - it adopts many of the smart growth design elements we need today.

Second, we need the State to step in and help design and implement good transportation options. That could mean better highway construction or light rail or whatever.

We are in a time of change, a time of transition. Not everyone is going to be comfortable. For sure, though, we cannot sit back and do nothing. That course of action will not work.

DavidYungmann said...

Anon 2:13, with such detailed knowledge, why would you post anonymously? As for your "facts"... Do you expect Howard Co will stop building homes? The County has grown by around 1,800 homes per year for a long time and that will continue whether 10% of them are built in downtown or not. If some of the homes that will be built anyway are built in a high density, connected, mixed use environment, some of those people will be walking or taking transit to work instead of jumping into their cars. Further, we all know that roads like Rt. 29 are overcrowded. However, it's important to recognize that this traffic is primarily: 1. Pass-thru traffic of people who neither live nor work in Howard Co. With 30,000 new jobs, economists expect that these people will now be traveling to their jobs right here in HoCo, generating huge tax revenues. 2. Howard Co residents who can't find jobs here so they need to commute long distances to work. We will caputure those workers by giving them jobs here, cutting communting needs and caputuring tax revenue. Plus, the density provided for in the plan will finally qualify downtown for real transportation options.

Anonymous said...

Yungman, you must think readers are idiots.

futurefan said...

Anon 6:41,
Could you be a bit more specific? I thought his comment seemed well reasoned and I don't think I'm an idiot.

DavidYungmann said...

Anon 6:41. I actually didn't think you were an idiot until I read your comment. If you have a constructive counter-argument, offer it. By the way, I know who you are and expect more intellect than your passive agressive use of my last name when you have nothing else to offer.

Anonymous said...

First 2 Anon's haiku:

The real Hail Mary
is in your fear mongering.
We won't stand for it.

PZGURU said...

@ David Youngmann - it appears that YOU are the one being passive aggressive! Why would you feel the need to say "by the way, I know who you are..."?

That has a very threatening tone to it. People can comment anonymously if they choose to.

Anonymous said...

David has three pat counter "arguments"

1) so prove it (akin to 'I know you are, but what am I? response of a kindergartner)

2) That's awfully specific for a [ insert denigrating comment]

3) You are [insulting, name calling, other anti-logical responses]

Anonymous said...

Mr. Yungmann has given so much of his time to this whole process because he actually cares deeply about Columbia and Howard County, unlike those who are trying to stall at all costs. He understands that the success of this plan will not only benefit Columbia, but also the County. Isn't it ironic that a few people who originally bought into the Rouse vision have none of their own?

Gimme a Break said...

You've gotta be kiddin. It's real easy to call for Columbia's mass urbanization when you live in Woodbine.

brian said...

To Gimme a Break (great show, by the way): I live in Columbia and I support the redevelopment of downtown. I think the term "mass urbanization" here is somewhat misleading - this is very carefully planned smart growth that takes place over 30 years. One of Jim Rouse's original goals for Columbia was "To provide the best environment for the growth of people. It would seem elementary that cities should be planned for people…" That's what this is about.

Anonymous said...

brian 4:37,
Just curious where you got that Rouse quote?

brian said...

Anon 4:57: That was one of Rouse's original goals for Columbia. In this case, I saw it on page 2 of CB 58.

DavidYungmann said...

PZGURU, you are 100% correct. Because I know the guy personally, I said it sort of in gest, but I can see how it could be mistaken as a threat. Not intended and agree with you.

Anon 11:42: 1. asking that people prove their points is perfectly reasonable; 2. I can't find any post where I criticized someone for being "specific" because it so rarely happens and 3. I never protest people name-calling or insulting me - I merely point out that they tend to do it when they have nothing else constructive to day.

Gimmie A Break, the long-term standard of living of Howard co is closely tied to the long-term viability of our downtown. It's a county-wide issue, which is why the County Council goversn it instead of CA or a Village Board. Unless Columbia plans to defect from the County, it's all the same pool of tax dollars, so I have every right to have a say in how to make sure that part of our county contributes. Plus, your "mass urbanization of Columbia" is completely overblown. It's a 350 acre area, which is less than 3% of Columbia and less than two tenths of a percent of Howard Co. By the way, nice job with Commish.

Anonymous said...

that's the point, yungman. when people point to indisputable past you ask for proof. when they're specific you say, 'that's awfully specific for an anon'.

Who tf cares if it's anon? You don't like any opposition because you have no good argument to combat it.