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Allan Kittleman: Improving Howard County’s Transportation Network

Under Allan’s leadership, Howard County has made tremendous strides in increasing access to buses, bikes and roads.  Allan:

  • Improved Bridge Columbia, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting Oakland Mills and Town Center.
  • Led the charge to pass and implement the first Howard County Bicycle Master Plan.
  • Worked with private investors to create Howard County Bikeshare.
  • Initiated a restart of the Pedestrian Master Plan called WalkHoward.
  • Began working to increase safety for people driving, biking, walking, or taking the bus along the Rte. 1 corridor.
  • Modernized the County’s mass transit fleet and route structure to better serve the community and get people to their destination more quickly.

Allan Kittleman implemented the BikeHoward Master Plan

The Kittleman Administration has been leading the way on improving the bicycle-friendliness of our community.

They led the charge on unanimously passing the County’s first ever Bicycle Master Plan, BikeHoward, in a bi-partisan fashion through the County Council. This document serves as the key to identifying a strategic network of bicycle infrastructure throughout the County and acts as a critical supporting document in unlocking more grant opportunities to support the construction of this network.

As a result of the passage of this document, Kittleman initiated the development of an integrated 48-mile network of bicycle infrastructure, known as BikeHoward Express, is scheduled to be completed by 2021. BikeHoward Express will serve a significant portion of the county, as almost half of the county’s population will live within a mile of this network when it is completed.

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Percent Increase in HC Bike Lanes from 2014 To Present Day

In addition, Kittleman worked collaboratively with several partners in our community to leverage private investment with public dollars to create Howard County Bikeshare, a pilot bikeshare program that adds the unique element of cutting-edge electric-assist technology to the typical bikeshare system.

This system has 9 stations and close to 80 bikes across the county. Having only been in operation for one year, it has already seen promising results with people having taken over 4,400 trips to go over 6,000 miles.

The Kittleman Administration has remained committed to improving bicycle infrastructure in the county as demonstrated in their Fiscal Year 2019 Budget which included the most capital funds ever dedicated solely to bicycle infrastructure in our history with $1.04 million.

Over the past several years, we have significantly increased the amount of bike lanes from just 4 miles to 34 miles.

The Kittleman Administration’s commitment to bicycle infrastructure is a big reason Columbia was recently recognized in 2016 as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists.

“This plan [BikeHoward Express] represents a sensible, strategic and fiscally responsible approach to improve bicycle infrastructure in Howard County.” Randy Lovelace

Local Pastor & Bicycle Advocate

“Transportation serves as the lifeblood for our economy and our community. That is why I have worked expeditiously over the past several years to shape Howard County’s transportation system into one that better meets the needs of those who use it.

 

Results of this effort are already making it easier for you to walk, bike, take the bus, or drive around Howard County.

 

This makes it easier for businesses to thrive in our community, while also improving the quality of life for residents.” —Allan Kittleman

A More Improved Walkable Community

Allan Kittleman has also worked to improve the walkability of the community.

We have added over 70 miles of new sidewalks throughout the county during the past several years, all while working to maintain our extensive existing network and to improve intersection connections.

In addition, we also restarted an effort to improve the existing Pedestrian Master Plan that was formalized in 2007. In this new effort, called WalkHoward, the plan will look to identify key connections so that people can get to where they want to go safely. This has been an extensive effort with the community, and it is on track to be completed this fall.

Kittleman has also led a key initiative to address the transportation challenges in the US 1 corridor. As the land use in this corridor has evolved, the transportation infrastructure was not adapted to support it. The Kittleman Administration is working collaboratively with the State to address these challenges through a US 1 Safety Evaluation.

This will outline what critical improvements will be needed to shape the US 1 corridor into one that is safe and conducive for all those that travel along it, whether it be by driving, biking, walking, or taking the bus.

Turning inaction into action

Finally, after years of inaction, Kittleman took steps to improve the connection between Oakland Mills and Town Center Villages. The pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing US 29 is a key link between East and West Columbia, and finally received the upgrade it deserved under Kittleman’s leadership.

After replacing the decrepit cage with a spiraling geodesic design, this critical connection now represents the vibrancy of these two treasured communities. As Columbia continues to advance, the infrastructure that supports it must be upgraded as well.

Improving #HoCoMD Mass Transit

Coming into office, Kittleman knew that our transit system (the RTA) was lacking in two critical areas; a dilapidated fleet, and a route structure that had not been evaluated in over a decade.

Understanding the important service our transit system provides to the community and our economy, as approximately 60% of passengers use it to get to work, Kittleman prioritized the improvement of this long-neglected system.

Speeding up Howard County bus routes

Kittleman kicked off a comprehensive and holistic Transit Development Plan (TDP) process that, with significant community input, provided a new recommended route structure to get people where they needed to go in a quicker fashion.

One example is the route between Downtown Columbia and Columbia Gateway. This trip used to take close to an hour but now will only take 25 minutes under this new plan.

The TDP was also unanimously supported by the County Council, and the Kittleman provided the necessary funding for the plan to start to be implemented in the spring of 2019. The Kittleman Administration has also been working hard to make sure our bus stops are accessible to riders.

Over the past four years, Kittleman has close to quadrupled the annual rate of bus stop improvements compared to the pace seen previously, improving more than 80 bus stops a year.

Improving fleet quality

In addition to working to re-structure the routes, the Kittleman Administration has also been working to improve the quality of the fleet. Due to these efforts, the RTA will have introduced 18 new buses, of which three are all-electric, into the fleet by next spring.

This means well over half of the RTA fleet will be new, which will significantly help with persistent reliability and maintenance issues seen with the older buses. Improved performance of the service, coupled with a more efficient route structure, will dramatically improve an RTA system that has been neglected for far too long.

Kittleman also spearheaded efforts to reform how the RTA operates to make it even easier for people to use. Before coming into office, each of the jurisdictions working together in the RTA had separate fare policies.

Now, there is a uniform fare policy for all jurisdictions making it easier for folks to travel across the Central Maryland region. As part of this new policy, seniors and those with disabilities can even ride the bus for free!

Reducing congestion on Rt 29

Beyond improving the current public transit system, the Kittleman Administration has been working with Montgomery County to explore the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit System along the US 29 Corridor.

Montgomery County has been evaluating what could be done between Burtonsville and Silver Spring along the US 29 Corridor, and the Kittleman Administration have been collaborating with Montgomery County to seek to extend BRT to Maple Lawn, Columbia and Ellicott City.

This would be an innovative approach to reducing congestion along the US 29 Corridor, and if the analysis determines it to be effective, it will be pursued with both jurisdictions working collaboratively.

“I am very happy to see that the RTA will be free for Older Adults in Howard County. As I and others age, car driving becomes an issue. This will allow us to keep socially connected, use the library system, and exercise at County 50+ Centers.” Paul Verchinski

Oakland Mills

Kittleman: Improving Traffic Safety Conditions

By working closely with Governor Hogan and his staff, Kittleman was able to finally address one of the largest congestion and safety challenges in the area and in the State.

MD 32 has seen significant congestion between MD 108 and Linden Church Road, as well as a much higher crash rate compared to the statewide average.

Both Governor Hogan and County Executive Kittleman immediately worked to address this issue, and as a result of those efforts, MD 32 will now be dualized on this section beginning as soon as this fall.

This will dramatically reduce congestion by the peak congestion in the am and pm by 74% and 78%, respectively while making this stretch of roadway safer for all those that travel along it.

“I again want to sincerely thank County Executive Allan Kittleman for his full cooperation and commitment…to strongly pursue $16.5 million in County funding for this important project, MD 32.

Governor Larry Hogan

In addition, County Executive Kittleman has been working the State to find an additional access into Columbia Gateway. The Gateway Innovation District will become a key economic hub over the next several years, and so ensuring it has viable transportation options is critical to its success.

In response to concerns from Howard County residents, the Kittleman Administration has engaged the Hogan Administration on improvements to Rt. 70.

Kittleman will continue to find ways to improve vehicular, bicycle, transit, and pedestrian options to support the growth of this evolving destination.

As you can see, Kittleman has already taken significant strides to improve our transportation network, and he has more plans in the works to continue to make it better. As a result of morphing our transportation network to meet the needs of the community, our economy will continue to prosper, and our residents will have a better quality of life.