Page 20 March 2017 The Business Monthly
recommendation of a person to head what
was then called the State Roads Commission. Agnew signed his letter “Ted,” and
shortly afterward, he appointed Jerome
Wolff, a Towson transportation consultant
who worked for Rouse and others Agnew
knew as Baltimore County executive, as
head of the Roads Commission.
HRD officials strongly lobbied for
expansion of Routes 29, 32 and 175 the
way they wanted them, and even funded interchanges in advance to improve
traffic flow. Sometimes they prevailed;
other times they didn’t. While the two-lane Route 29 is now a six-lane walled
expressway, the traffic it carries is often
just passing through Columbia, adding
to the air, noise, water and heat pollution.
On the other hand, without Columbia’s
planned shopping centers, Route 29 was
destined to become crowded with the same
kind of piecemeal strip development that
lines Route 40 in Ellicott City.
What was much less successful were
attempts to improve mass transit into and
out of Columbia. An extension of the
Baltimore light rail line that appears on
some plans never materialized. Regional
transit agencies have provided workforce
transit to places such as BWI and Arundel
Mills; and commuter buses into D.C. and
Baltimore are often crowded, but operate
only on weekdays and limited schedules.
Residents are mostly dependent on cars to
get to them. There is a study of bus rapid
transit down Route 29 to Silver Spring, but
the four-lane bridge over the Patuxent River reservoir would be a major bottleneck.
The density of Columbia’s downtown
development is supposed to provide more
from page 19
development, because it is going to help fix
some of the stormwater runoff problems in
downtown,” Tillman said. “I was glad to
see Howard Hughes [Corp.] work on the
Little Patuxent River streambed, which
was revitalized, and how stormwater
bio-filtration systems were added to the
Whole Foods parking lot.”
On the stormwater issues that plague
many neighborhoods like my own, “The
developers could have done a better
job,” he said, but homeowners can take
action on their own. “Everybody has yet
to re-landscape their backyards,” though
people are planting more native species.
The state planning department estimates Howard County’s population will
grow by 50,000 people over the next 20
years, and perhaps 10,000 of them will be
residents of new downtown apartments.
“Our green infrastructure is going to be
under stress,” said Tillman.
But he noted that, while the population
of the mid-Atlantic states has doubled
since 1960, Howard County’s has grown
seven-fold. “It’s incredible that we have
any nature left.”
But, as many Columbians could attest,
nature is just outside the door or a short
walk away, as Rouse planned it 50 years
Next month: The Arts and Entertainment
Len Lazarick (Len@
has lived and worked in
Columbia as a journalist
for more than 40 years.
He is currently the editor
and publisher of Marylan-
dReporter.com, a news website about state
government and politics, and a political
columnist for The Business Monthly.
“Open space is probably one of the
major successes of Columbia,” Tillman
said in an interview. “Many cities and
towns did not do a good job of that.”
“We have to learn to co-evolve with
nature and make sure that the green
transit options, if only in Town Center.
While people pay attention to the
streams and rivers that flow above ground,
only public works officials and civil engineers pay much attention to the underground supply of water that people use
to drink, bathe and flush. It comes from
reservoirs far away in Baltimore County;
the waste water departs underground
largely along stream beds downhill to the
sewage treatment plant in Savage. Some of
that treated wastewater is now used to cool
huge computers at the National Security
Agency, where many Columbians work.
Environmental expert Ned Tillman
has been watching Columbia for decades,
first from a small farm on Manor Lane just
outside the town, and now perched in a
condo with a grand view of Lake Elkhorn
though the trees.
infrastructure here is healthy,” he said.
“Howard County needs biodiversity.”
Tillman has written about the big
picture in his books The Chesapeake Wa-
tershed and Saving the Places We Love.
He advocates government action and
corporate leadership, as the Rouse Co.
showed, but he urges individual efforts
Under the Trump administration, “one
could expect the air quality is going to get
worse. It’s all about the overuse and use
of fossil fuels,” Tillman said. Much of the
local air pollution comes from the heavy
traffic on I-95 and coal-powered electricity
plants to the west, where a lot of our local
“I’ve been supportive of downtown re-
Lake Elkhorn looking east from the dam near Broken Land Parkway. Photo: Len
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