Friday, April 30, 2010

Forty West Fix and Starts

Unbeknownst to me when I banged out this post was that Courtney Watson was already all over this. Last night I received an email from the current council chair in response to my lament about the sorry state of the Route 40 corridor. It’s pathetic that this primary gateway artery in the third or seventh best and richest place in the country, looks a lot like the Ritchie Highway corridor in Glen Burnie. Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to cross from one side to the other, in a car. To cross on foot is, well let’s just say unwise.

Though I kvetched about the lack of any visible improvement since the Route 40 Enhancement Study was completed in 2004, things have apparently progressed, to a degree. Courtney writes that “There is a streetscape master plan already designed and that will be implemented starting in July. The design manual is still within the committee, but should be released shortly. “

Today she told me that the streetscape improvements will occur over about a one year time frame. That makes sense. This is not a good time of year to plant trees for instance.

Still, real progress will take time. The property in the most congested areas is largely private and it will take a voluntary effort on those property owners part to implement significant changes. As a carrot the county holds out the possibility of redeveloping a commercial property under TNC (Traditional Neighborhood Center) zone in exchange for adhering to the Design Manual standards.

From the Howard County Zoning Regulations:

“This district is intended to provide for the development of pedestrian-oriented, urban activity centers with a mix of retail, service, office and residential uses. These centers should be located near Route 40 and close to residential communities that will benefit from a pedestrian-oriented local business area.”

So there you go. There is some movement to a better day on forty freaking west but it’s gonna take some time.


Anonymous said...

Rent a bulldozer, start at the McDonalds, and work your way east.

What more kind of planning do you need?

Frank Hecker said...

Since I live right off 40 just west of the most commercial section, I'm really looking forward to some action here; I travel this stretch every day. A lot of the construction on 40 isn't *that* bad, but mixed in with it are older properties that look pretty shabby. There's also no architectural focus at all, just a jumble of storefronts.

The odd thing is that the most significant future building in that area of Ellicott City -- the new library -- isn't even on 40. I find myself wishing sometimes that the county had ponied up the money to buy out some property owners and then built the new library on the main drag to provide a focal point for the area.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that when friends or relatives from around the world come to visit, I find myself making excuses for Rte. 40 when we drive down it to go somewhere in EC of HoCo. Starting at I70, it's not too bad, but as you head east it just goes downhill real fast, leaving you in an upscale version of New Jersey (don't even mention Glen Burnie).

Everything east of Enchanted Forest is a black eye on a county that professes to be somewhat eco-friendly and environmentally and economically aware. I hope the Rte. 40 plan is followed, but I fear that tax revenues will pay the piper.

Anonymous said...

what does last night's votes on zras have to do with rt 40 and rt 1?

Anonymous said...

anon 12:31
There is an interesting story about the Route 40 and Route 1 development in the Sun.

Watson voted in a 5-0 vote for Route 40 development and was the lone vote against Route 1 development.

Why would Watson vote against revitalization of a Route 1 area that the community has been fighting for years to get? For the County to invest in that area of Montevideo and Port Capital Drive is HUGE!

Yet, she voted for the developer-backed Route 40 ZRA. So, she isn’t opposed to ZRAs or development—even with Dick Talkin and Dr. Taylor. Maybe she just isn’t as supportive of Route 1 revitalization as the rest of the Council is. Sad, very sad!,0,2887164,print.story