Of the 11.7 miles of CA paths, 2.7 miles are dedicated to a single project, the Downtown Columbia-Patuxent Branch Trail Extension.

According to the agenda, the extension will connect downtown lakefront to the Patuxent Branch Trial, resulting in an uninterrupted seven-mile trail from the lakefront to Savage.

The pathway also will link up with the recently approved multi-use pathway that connects Howard County General Hospital to Blandair Park and will provide residents an alternative to crossing the Route 29 and Broken Land Parkway interchange ramps.

Dembner estimates the project will cost approximately $1.4 million.


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"The reason for that is its length, and the number of rivers and stream crossings that need to be done," Dembner said. "It's a fantastic opportunity to connect people to Town Center."

Increasing signage

While the goal to decrease gaps and increase connectivity remains paramount, survey results from the task force indicated that a lack of directional signage was the chief concern of residents.

Of the 300 people surveyed, Dembner said, 87 percent indicated a desire for more directional signage on Columbia's trails.

In order to address this concern, the report proposes implementing a unified system of signs and mile markers to prevent residents from getting lost.

In addition to the mile markers, the report also proposes naming the pathways to establish identities, and placing signs or "connection posts" at intersections to keep travelers aware of what path they are on.

The plan will also significantly widen the pathways, where space allows.

Currently, paths along primary and secondary routes range from four to 10 feet. Under the new plan, both primary and secondary routes would be widened to at least 10 feet.

"Our consultants advised us that the pathways don't meet the standards being used now for multi-use pathways," Dembner said. "You have bicyclists, strollers, walkers, and runners, increasing the size of the pathways will allow for more comfortable travel for all."

At the informational reading of the plan at the board's Sept. 27 meeting, Dembner urged members of the board to accept the agenda and consider its projects during the construction of future capital budgets.

"The time is really right to enhance the system," Dembner said. "There is no change in Jim Rouse's vision. In a sense, this is the same idea, we're just completing the system."