February 26, 2014
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Beth Burgess, Department of Planning and Zoning, 410-313-4341
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman Announces Pedestrian, Parking and Stormwater Improvements in Ellicott City
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – As part of his administration’s continued re-investment in a signature Howard County community, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman today unveiled a major public works project in Downtown Ellicott City to improve pedestrian connections, make parking more accessible and allow for better stormwater treatment.
The unique, multi-faceted project expands the usefulness of a public parking area known as Lot E, located behind Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. on Main Street. Recognizing that Lot E can serve as an important connection point for different parts of the community, the County will construct a new retaining wall adjacent to the lot that will contain a specially-designed staircase. The staircase will span a hillside above the lot, and, when completed, will connect restaurants and businesses on Main Street with the parking areas at the Howard County Circuit Courthouse and Court Place. The Courthouse area offers an abundance of parking available during prime evening and weekend business hours, and for special events.
The surface of Lot E will be reconstructed, allowing for bioretention areas that will capture stormwater for treatment. The lot will be surrounded by a turf-free landscape with native shrubs and trees. At the edge of the lot, the County will construct a new crosswalk that spans Main Street and reaches businesses that line Lot D, such as La Palapa Grill and Cantina and Su Casa, further improving pedestrian connections.
“By better connecting the courthouse area and Main Street, we will open up new areas and make this historic community more walkable and more functional,” said Ulman. “This attractive staircase and better signs will direct parkers and pedestrians to convenient areas nearby they may not have thought about using.”
“This is a boost for businesses and residents. And importantly, this project allows us to improve water quality,” Ulman continued.
Construction is expected to begin in March, and the retaining wall, staircase and lot resurfacing will cost $1.5 million.
Howard County officials are studying the feasibility of additional crosswalk areas on Main Street following a series of public meetings last year, where residents and business owners suggested the improvement. The Lot E crosswalk will be the first to be installed.
“The Ellicott City community has come together to develop ideas and improvements for a better experience for shoppers and residents,” said Howard County Council Vice-chairperson Courtney Watson, whose district includes Ellicott City. “I’m excited to be able to help move these projects forward.”
“We're pleased to see this continued commitment to the historic district in a way that makes Ellicott City safer and more pedestrian-friendly,” said Andy Hall, President of the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership. “There’s a lot of energy in Ellicott City, and this project will continue the momentum.”
Construction to repair a collapsed stone wall in Lot C, the Mulligan’s Hill area, is expected to being in April. Repairs have awaited extensive negotiations on a plan and the decision to wait for other improvements following the 2012 CSX train derailment to be completed. Bids are expected in March and construction should begin in April, lasting into the fall.
Howard County has been awarded $100,000 in State of Maryland Community Legacy funding that will be used for an Ellicott City Streetscape Program. The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works, working with the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership, is creating a streetscape plan that will include benches, new recycling and trash containers, planters, landscaping, wayfinding signs and bike racks. Sidewalk repairs will also be made to improve ADA access and add curb cuts where needed.
“We are making so much progress, and I thank the community for their input and patience as we create a path to a vibrant future,” Ulman said.