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The Community and Growth

Maryland's growth initiative is not simply a collection of anti-sprawl measures, it embodies the fundamental understanding that identity is not built with new structures, it is discovered in the strengths of the 'structures' we have.

THE COMMUNITY AND GROWTH

 

Maryland’s growth management program is having a dramatic impact on land use decisions across the state. This initiative is not simply a collection of anti-sprawl measures, it embodies the fundamental understanding that identity is not built with new structures, it is discovered in the strengths of the “structures” we have. Existing neighborhoods, greenbelts, brownfields, growth areas, are all acknowledged as producers of identity and quality, not as disposable abstractions. In other words, we are beginning to understand that listening to the voices of what we have produced may be the most sustainable way to the future. As part of this overall initiative, the State Highway Administration uses a strategy called Thinking Beyond the Pavement, which aligns transportation planning with land use decisions. It supports growth management by placing emphasis on the people, neighborhoods, and businesses that must be served by the transportation network and on the environmentally sensitive areas of the state that must be protected. The aim is to make our existing communities functional and vibrant places to work and live, take advantage of the road and transit systems that already exist, and offer our citizens a balanced transportation system, one that fits with communities, is oriented to all users, and where walking, bicycling, and transit are realistic options. We have already had some successes and we are learning more and more as we move forward. On Bond Street in Bel Air in Harford County, we were able to create a pedestrian- friendly environment and integrate the many businesses there into Harford County’s main civic and commercial center. On MD 144 in Catonsville we improved the roadway, added side- walks, and other streetscape enhancements which stimulated local businesses to improve their properties and magnify the impact of roadway-based improvements.


The project taught that the business community must be an integral part of the design process. Thinking Beyond the Pavement principles were also brought to bear in Mt. Rainier, a transit-oriented community near Washington, D.C. Residents felt the state road divided their community. Intensive community involvement produced a fundamental change in the way pedestrians, cars, and transit was to be handled and led to a striking change in the appearance of the roadway and its surroundings. The project showed that communities are often less afraid of change than the designers. In all of these projects, the key to success was moving away from a standards-driven process to a flexible, community-friendly approach that seeks to balance the performance and safety features of the highway with the shape of the built environment. In the past, a few projects met these criteria, but the new goal is to use this approach in all Main Street-type projects.




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