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Street Sweeping

Howard County’s street sweeping program is designed to help prevent street dirt from reaching the waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Curbs are swept four times each year by a contractor using brush sweepers. Each year we remove approximately 1200 tons of debris from more than 1300 miles of curbs.

Each sweeping cycle takes from six to nine weeks to complete. Cycles generally begin in the months of January, April, July and September. In general each cycle begins in the east part of Howard County and moves westward.

For more information, contact the Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450 or highways@howardcountymd.gov 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Why are the roads swept? 

Sweeping helps remove road dirt and contaminants before they reach the waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

Will a sweeper be sweeping my street? 

All curbs on the County road network are swept four times each year. Roads without curbs are not usually swept because the sweeper is less effective on roads without curbs. Additionally, grass swales on open section roads are very effective in filtering out road dirt and contaminants before they enter the waterways.

Why didn’t the sweeper pick up the leaves on my street? 

Sweepers are not designed to pick up leaves. Large quantities of leaves will clog sweeper filters, spreading the leaves over a large area. Sweeper operators will avoid areas of curb containing an excessive number of leaves.

Why did the sweeper fail to sweep random areas on my street? 

Sweepers may have found it necessary to maneuver around vehicles parked on the street. In that instance, residents can call the Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450 and a supervisor will investigate any missed areas.

Why does the sweeper make multiple passes on my street? 

The sweeper operator may be driving around the block to finish cleaning an intersection. Driving around the block to complete a sweep is often times a safer approach than backing up to sweep. The sweeper operator may also have determined that the first pass did not sufficiently clean the curb line. This approach is usually viewed as a sign of a conscientious operator as the contract reimbursement is based on the actual curb length rather than the number of passes.

Will I receive notification of when the sweepers are coming to my street? 

Howard County is divided into 29 sweeping areas with each area requiring, on average, a day to sweep. Currently, Homeowners Associations on our address list are notified several times each week, by e-mail, of major scheduled work in the County, including areas being swept that day and often the two or three days that follow.

Why does the sweeping schedule sometimes coincide with trash and recycling collection days? 

The 29 sweeping areas were developed for the quickest continuous sweeping effort to obtain the best competitive bid. These areas do not align with the current 15 trash and recycling collection routes and 75 sub routes. The County GIS system is being used to investigate improvements in coordinating these two major efforts.

Why are sweeper crews working in the winter when the roads are frozen? 

The January sweeping effort actually collects more road debris than the spring and summer cycles, and it is one of most effective ways of collecting the road debris prior the spring rains.