Report outlines improvements for Clarksville Pike

Amanda Yeager
Contact ReporterHoward County Times/Columbia Flier
This is what Clarksville Pike could look like in the future

A team tasked with studying how to give a stretch of Clarksville Pike more of a Main Street feel has released its final report. 

The plan, presented to community members at Claret Hall Thursday night, outlines a vision for a portion of the pike between Guilford Road and Trotter Road.

The goal is "to show Clarksville Pike as a destination, as a place to be, rather than a 'through,'" said Cecily Bedwell, a senior associate for Design Collective, the firm the county hired to lead the study.

Bedwell and her group suggested an array of improvements, including a multi-use path for pedestrians and bikers, as well as color-coordinated street lights and benches. The report also recommends that future development be built closer to the street, to create a semi-urban feel similar to downtown Bethesda. 

The plan touches on traffic congestion, too -- an annoyance that is projected to worsen over the next two decades as nearby development increases the number of cars traveling in the area. 

A land use forecast in the report anticipates 235 new single family dwellings and 45,000 square feet of retail space built in Clarksville in the short term, while farther out -- in the next decade or two -- the area could see 20,000 square feet of new supermarket space, 15,000 square feet of office buildings, 75,000 square feet of retail, 200 parking spaces, 250 single family dwellings and 100 apartment units. 

"If you do nothing, you can imagine it's bumper to bumper," said Paul Silberman, the director of transportation planning at Sabra, Wang & Associates, who was also hired by the county to study the pike. 

The solution, Silberman said, should include a second eastbound lane between Linden Linthicum Road and River Hill High School, as well as an extension of a five-lane section of the pike west to Guilford Road and east to Sheppard Lane. 

The recommendations follow two community meetings and more than a year of input. The next step, according to Bill Mackey, the Department of Planning and Zoning's  comprehensive and community planning chief, is to solicit public opinion on the report. After that, a tweaked plan will likely go the County Council for approval. 

County Executive Allan Kittleman has proposed $100,000 to kickstart planning and design for the project in next fiscal year's budget. A ballpark estimate for the cost of road projects is between $2 million and $4 million, Silberman said. Bedwell said her firm hadn't made projections for streetscape costs. 

Some of the money is likely to come from the state. "We're at the beginning of the process," Mackey said. "There's not a big check waiting for this. It's a long-term process." 

Bedwell said having a vision for Clarksville Pike could help the corridor attract investment. The guidelines "help to show that the community has... a game plan in place," she said. 

The full report will be posted to the Department of Planning and Zoning's website, howardcountymd.gov/DPZ, later today, according to Mackey. 

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