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Howard County to fund $20 million in road, sidewalk, traffic improvements

Kate Magill
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

Howard County’s road and transit improvement plans are receiving more than $20 million for projects including repaved roads, renovated bus stops and bridge improvements.

The 2019 capital budget took effect July 1 and contains money for the work.

One of the most talked about transportation projects included in this year’s capital budget is $1.1 million to continue the expansion of the county’s bike trail network. Groups such as the health nonprofit the Horizon Foundation and Bicycling Advocates of Howard County have regularly criticized County Executive Allan Kittleman at public meetings for lagging behind surrounding counties in funding the project, such as Anne Arundel County, which granted $7.5 million ito its bike network last year.

Other transit-related projects include $4 million for sidewalk construction and $2.4 million for bridge improvements throughout the county, including $100,000 to replace the River Road bridge over Rockburn Branch.

Thirty-six miles of road are scheduled to be repaved thanks to $6 million in “paygo” funds from the county. “Paygo” projects, short for “pay as you go,” funded by available surplus county dollars, rather than borrowed money or new revenue.

Staff from the county’s Bureau of Highways in the Department of Public Works review all roads in the county to determine which are most in need of repavement, according to deputy bureau chief Kris Jagarapu. Officials rank the roads using a pavement condition index and also spot-check roadways to see which are in the worst state based on criteria including cracks and the number of vehicles using the road.

The Office of Transportation and the Department of Planning and Zoning will continue to improve the county’s bus stops, including installing approach sidewalks and curb ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, bus shelters, concrete pads, bus stop signs, crosswalks and route map holders.

Since 2011, the county has improved more than 140 bus stops and plans to renovate an additional 41 of the county’s 490 regional transit bus stops in the fiscal year, which is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $500,000.

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