Republican Howard County executive candidate Dennis R. Schrader vowed yesterday to revitalize portions of the U.S. 1 corridor from Elkridge to North Laurel, if elected Nov. 3.
"Notwithstanding its assets, the Route 1 corridor is not a very attractive place," Schrader said at a news conference at an abandoned service station on U.S. 1 near Whiskey Bottom Road. "That's bad for business and bad for everyone who lives nearby."
The Republican County Council member is running against Democrat James N. Robey, who said he has been advocating improvements to the corridor. "One of my priorities is to bring business to the county, and Route 1 is a great place for businesses to come," the Democrat said.
Schrader said he would create redevelopment zones, apply for state grants and invest "impact money" paid to the county by the Laurel racetrack in improvements to surrounding neighborhoods. But he said real change will come about only through a private-public partnership.
"It is not the government's responsibility to impose demands on the business community," Schrader said. "We want to work with them as partners surrounded by a shared vision."
U.S. 1 was Howard County's first major north-south thoroughfare. At one time, motorists used the highway to get to Florida and to New York. Then in the 1960s, Interstate 95 was built, and much of the traffic on U.S. 1 disappeared, forcing many of the businesses along the corridor to close.
Schrader said he wants to encourage business growth there.
"Route 1 is still a great location to do business, precisely because it is close to I-95, BWI [Baltimore-Washington International Airport] and convenient to thousand of shoppers," he said.
Schrader said revitalizing U.S. 1 will increase business development, expand the county's tax base, stabilize property values in the residential neighborhoods near U.S. 1 and create linkage between the historic sites from Elkridge to Washington.
"Our historic communities can never be effectively coupled as long as significant portions of Route 1 are an embarrassing eyesore," he said.
Steve Storch, president of Storch Realty Inc. and owner of Country Meadows apartments on U.S. 1, said it is crucial to continue to invest in the area. "I do believe the corridor is considered by some to have blighted areas within it," said Storch. "But now is the time to improve that image."
Joining Schrader at the news conference was Christopher J. Merdon, who is running for County Council in District 1, which includes Elkridge and Ellicott City, and Wanda Hurt, candidate for County Council in District 3, which includes North Laurel and Savage. Both are Republicans.
"For so many years this part of the county was ignored," said Hurt, who is running for Schrader's council seat. "Finally, this area has representation."
Pub Date: 10/22/98