ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that his proposed capital spending plan for fiscal year 2023 contains historic funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, aimed at providing health and environmental benefits while improving community connections.
Executive Ball said the spending plan that has been presented to the County Council includes a record $8.2 million for pathways, bike lanes, sidewalks, curb ramps and other project to help implement the county’s Pedestrian Master Plan, its Bicycle Master Plan, and its Complete Streets policy. Infographics and photos from the event can be found here.
When implemented, the spending proposal would mean that funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure under Executive Ball will have totaled $22 million over four years, $8 million higher than during the previous administration.
We are able to make historic investments today to build a better tomorrow for all of Howard County. We do this to improve our health, because we know it’s better to walk and ride than to sit. We do this to improve our community, because we know that seeing your neighbors face to face makes us stronger. And we do this for our environment, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut back on the use of internal combustion engines.
Executive Ball said the investments are designed to further Howard County’s commitment to pedestrian access, bicycling and complete streets, which have been priorities of his administration and of many in the community.
Pedestrian Improvements: A countywide pedestrian master plan, WalkHoward, was adopted in 2020 as a definitive reference for proposed pedestrian improvements. The plan outlines 43 structured projects with a total estimated cost of $11.77 million as well as 17 “priority connections” where a direct pathway could facilitate walking to schools, libraries, shopping centers and parks.
Included in the FY23 budget:
- Sidewalks on Whiskey Bottom Road from Route 1 to North Laurel Community Center, $700,000
- Sidewalks and crosswalk on Montgomery Road near Elkridge Landing Middle School, $400,000
- Sidewalks on Ilchester Road near Bonnie Branch Middle School, $550,000
- Shared use pathway on Dobbin Road from MD175 to Columbia Crossing Circle, $450,000
Bicycling Improvements: The Ball Administration has undertaken an unprecedented expansion in bike lane and pathway network. From 2019 to 2022, 24 miles of new bike lanes and pathways were implemented, and average funding for design and construction of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements has increased over 55 percent to an average of $5.4 million per year compared to the prior four-year period.
Included in the FY23 budget:
- Shared use pathway on Dobbin Road from Oakland Mills Road to MD175, $1.85 million
- Design of Robert Fulton Drive shared use pathway, $280,000
- Bike lane additions in conjunction with road resurfacing (locations depend on resurfacing schedule), $200,000
In 2022, Howard County adopted its first Complete Streets Design Manual based on a Complete Streets Policy from 2019 that rated a score of 89 out of 100 by the National Complete Streets Coalition. Howard County is also one of only six counties in the nation with adopted Complete Streets design guidelines (per the National Complete Streets Coalition Policy Atlas).
In the FY23 budget: The most significant Complete Streets project included in the FY23 budget is construction on Oakland Mills Road from Old Montgomery Road to Dobbin Road, at $1.7 million.
Howard County is a regional leader in prioritizing Complete Streets infrastructure, which helps achieve transportation safety, access, and equity in our neighborhoods. I a deeply appreciative of County Executive Ball’s vision and leadership in making bicycle and pedestrian funding a top priority in Howard County’s FY2023 Capital Budget.
“Howard County has certainly made great progress in implementing bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects and complete streets in recent years,” says Jennifer White, senior policy and community engagement officer at the Horizon Foundation. “We want everyone in Howard County, no matter who they are or where they live, to feel like they can safely, easily and comfortably bike, walk or take public transportation anywhere they need to go. With this historic funding, we are getting closer and closer to achieving that goal. We look forward to continued progress on the ground, especially in communities with significant levels of disinvestment where the need for these types of projects is especially strong.”
“This administration has done more for improvements that make all forms of mobility possible than any administration I’ve seen in my years as a transportation advocate, and member of the Board,” said Larry Schoen, Chairman of the Howard County Multimodal Transportation Board. “I believe the choices we make about transportation funding should matter to all of us because they determine our future of mobility, sustainability, affordability, efficiency, inclusivity, equity and health. We have choices about the future we want to build.”
About the Howard County proposed FY23 Capital Budget: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball unveiled a $377.7 million capital projects spending plan for the coming year which invests more money in classroom construction than at any time in the past two decades, while offering the highest funding for road resurfacing in eight years and making major progress on flood control projects in Ellicott City and elsewhere.
The historic funding levels are made possible by smart fiscal decisions which have led to a continuation of Howard County’s AAA bond rating, and by prudently building reserves which allow for 12 percent of the capital program to be funded with one-time Pay As You Go funding.