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East Main Street Reconstruction

Project Abstract

After more than a year of planning and design, the Maryland State Highway Administration's consultants completed their drawings for Westminster, Maryland's, East Main Street's revitalization. However, the administration and public balked at the plan which called for the removal of 42 100-year-old trees. MD DOT promptly appointed a task force to develop a new plan that would save Main Street's trees, widen sidewalks and improve the efficiency of traffic flow. Through this project, the city and State learned that citizen involvement at the beginning saves time and can result in a project that preserves the heritage of the community and pleases the community members themselves.



FLEXIBILITY  EAST MAIN  AWNING: Extended curbings take on a variety of patterns, here highlighting a projecting entrance bay and awning. Note how the concrete curbing and building border form continuous lines into the distance.
Extended curbings take on a variety of patterns, here highlighting a projecting entrance bay and awning. Note how the concrete curbing and building border form continuous lines into the distance.
Background/Purpose East Main Street has changed little since Jeb Stuart's cavalry pursued the 1st Delaware down its dusty way on June 29, 1863, in a prelude to Gettysburg. Pavement has covered the dust, sidewalks have replaced boardwalks, and utility lines have taken the measure of the maturing trees. In 1990, Westminster had more than doubled its population, to 13,582. At the perimeters, shopping malls beckoned. The very age that had made downtown Westminster a National Register Historic District was slowly eroding its attractions. Rains lingered in puddles, because there was no storm drainage. Countless repavings had raised the street's center, resulting in slanted parking spaces that caught car doors on curbs. Porches, stoops, and utility poles encroached onto narrow, cracked, and caved-in sidewalks. Vacant stores and office spaces attested to the decline. After more than a year of planning and design, the Maryland State Highway Administration's consultants completed their drawings for East Main Street's revitalization in October 1990. In May 1991, the city had three new city council members, and the administration and public balked at a 12.2 meter (40 ft)-wide roadway of two 3.6 m (1 ft) travel lanes and two 2.4m (8ft) parking lanes. That scheme would have removed 42 trees, some dating back to the last century. The old roadway was 10.4 m to 11.9 m (34 ft to 39 ft) wide. The new sidewalks would have an average width of 1.5 m (5 ft), as cramped as the old ones. Actions Taken to Resolve Issues In March 1991, the Maryland DOT appointed a ten-member committee to come up with ideas, and the State sent designers to help this task force realize their ideas. By December 1992, after numerous sessions and hearings, the new plan was complete. The State paid for the extra design work, which amounted to $199,523. Construction began in April 1993 and, in December 1994, the 1.5-km-long (.93 mile) project was opened to traffic.
Further Reading:
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Extended curbings take on a variety of patterns, here highlighting a projecting entrance bay and awning. Note how the concrete curbing and building border form continuous lines into the distance. 
    
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Extended curbings take on a variety of patterns, here highlighting a projecting entrance bay and awning. Note how the concrete curbing and building border form continuous lines into the distance.
A crosswalk's well-defined rectangle contrasts with circular pavement-level corners. At left, the sidewalk has been widened to meet the outer pedestrian walkway border. 
    
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A crosswalk's well-defined rectangle contrasts with circular pavement-level corners. At left, the sidewalk has been widened to meet the outer pedestrian walkway border.
An area of extended curbing interlocks--an extensive area of low plantings with concrete pavers shaped like brick.
    
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An area of extended curbing interlocks--an extensive area of low plantings with concrete pavers shaped like brick.
A trio of the 34 large trees saved, with some of the 104 new trees planted. A feeling of lush foliage permiates the street sides.
    
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A trio of the 34 large trees saved, with some of the 104 new trees planted. A feeling of lush foliage permiates the street sides.
Brick-like concrete pavers, textrured pedestrian crossings, trees, and low plantings provide a park-like flavor. Metal tree grates keep soil soft and porous, enhancing growth.
    
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Brick-like concrete pavers, textrured pedestrian crossings, trees, and low plantings provide a park-like flavor. Metal tree grates keep soil soft and porous, enhancing growth.
    
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"T" markings clearly define wach parking space.


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