Frequently Asked Questions

Street Sweeping

Why are the roads swept?

Sweeping helps remove road dirt and contaminants before they reach local 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.

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 the Bureau's address list are notified daily, by e mail, of major scheduled work in the County. Check with your HOA or call the Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450 for updates. Residents' personal email addresses can be added to the distribution list, at the resident's request.

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

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.

Snow Plowing

When will my street be plowed?

The Roadway Maintenance Division of the Bureau of Highways is responsible for snow removal and operates out of three separate shops- Cooksville West Zone, Dayton Central Zone, Mayfield East Zone. Plowing is done on the basis of priority depending on the type of snow event. During a typical snowstorm, it takes approximately 24 to 36 hours to complete service to the entire County Road System. Please see the Snow Removal section for more information. If there is a genuine emergency during a snow event, please contact the Police Department for immediate assistance.

What do I do if a plow damages my property?

Contact the Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450 or highways@howardcountymd.gov and the Highways staff can assess the damage and work with you to determine a solution. In many cases, after assessment by the Bureau of Highways, the concern will be forwarded to the Risk Management Department for a final resolution. Residents can also fill out and send in a Claim Form.

Traffic Calming

How can I get stop signs installed to control the speed on my street?

The Institute of Transportation Engineers- Traffic Engineering Council presents tips on stop signs. Contact the Bureau of Highways- Traffic Engineering Division for more information at 410-313-2430, or email at traffic@howardcountymd.gov. The Traffic Division can assess the need for traffic calming and determine how stop signs will effect the flow of traffic.

Is an all-way stop a good solution for my neighborhood?

The Traffic Engineering Division can conduct a study and determine the most efficient stopping mechanism at a particular intersection, to see if a four-way stop would be the best fit. Contact the Traffic Engineering Division for more information at 410-313-2430 or traffic@howardcountymd.gov.

What are the requirements for traffic signal installation?

The Traffic Signal Warrents list summarizes the basis for new signal installation. Please contact the Traffic Division at 410-313-2430 or traffic@howardcountymd.gov if you believe an intersection would be eligible for signal installation. The Traffic Division will want to determine the most efficient and safe way to keep the driving public moving.

Can the speed limit in my neighborhood be lowered?

Speed limits are carefully studied for safety, and are set as they are for a reason. However, in the event that an area needs to be reassessed, the Bureau of Highways can help. The Traffic Division can analyze a neighborhood for safe speeds, depending on a variety of factors including traffic volume, road designation (Arterial Roads vs Major Collector Roads), prevailing speed (85th percentile), and proximity to schools. If you would like your neighborhood assessed for traffic calming/speed reduction, please contact the Traffic Division at 410-313-2430 or traffic@howardcountymd.gov.

Sidewalks

Why hasn't my sidewalk been repaired?

The abutting property owner is responsible for general sidewalk maintenance. The County will make repairs to sidewalks only if roots from a County-owned tree were responsible for the damage, or if a County utility project or drainage-related sinkhole caused a safety hazard. If the County is in fact responsible for the sidewalk repairs, please contact the Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450 or highways@howardcountymd.gov and the area will be put on a repair list.

Who will help shovel the snow from my sidewalk?

The Bureau of Highways is not responsible for, nor are they equipped to shovel residents' sidewalks. Please contact the Department of Citizen Services at 410-313-6400 for help with this issue. They are often able to connect residents with resources and volunteers.

Road Resurfacing

When will a particular road be repaved?

County roads are assessed on a yearly basis by qualified Highways staff, and are graded for safety. Any road in need of resurfacing goes on a repair list, pending available time and funds.

Why was gravel put down on a section of road?

Chip seal is a pavement treatment that combines layers of asphalt with layers of fine aggregate. The treatment is used to protect road surfaces and repair cracks. It is a cost effective tool used to extend the life of the pavement, increasing the amount of time until the next repaving and saving taxpayer dollars. The road may be temporarily rough and dusty after a chip seal, but this should pass after several days and the community will be left with a safer road surface.

Street Tree Maintenance

Why were seemingly healthy ash trees removed?

This is because of the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species of beetle that attacks and kills ash trees. The County has been working to save ash trees when possible, but trees that are deemed at risk must be removed to slow the spread of the borer.

My street trees were removed by the County. Why haven't the tree stumps been removed yet?

The Bureau of Highways- Tree Division keeps a list of all tree removals and will return as soon as possible to grind down the remaining tree stumps. Stump removal can take up to a year, depending on the current workload and backlog. The County asks for your patience in this matter. If you believe a tree stump may have been forgotten, please contact Highways at 410-313-7450 or highways@howardcountymd.gov.

Who is responsible for handling street tree branches which are starting to encroach on my private property?

Property owners have the right to self-remedy, if plant material is encroaching on or over their private property. Residents may trim branches that overhang onto their property.

How do I get a healthy street tree removed?

Street trees are planted in accordance with regulations set by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Healthy street trees cannot be removed without their permission. Please see details about Roadside Tree Law at the DNR website for more information, or fill out a Tree Project Permit and return it to the DNR.