Shuttling into Ellicott City Courthouse connector: New weekend bus service will provide relief from jams in historic district.

July 08, 1998

HURRY UP and wait is a good description of how traffic moves up and down Main Street in historic Ellicott City on weekends.

Tourists jam the narrow thoroughfare looking for a place to park so they can get inside the antiques shops, restaurants and attractions such as the B&O Railroad Museum.

Merchants with an eye out for customers wouldn't have it any other way. But it can be frustrating to a motorist stuck in a conga line of vehicles.

A weekend shuttle service is offering another route. The bus will run from the nearby Howard County Circuit Court to Main Street. Since court is not in session on weekends, the 265 parking spaces in the courthouse lot would otherwise be empty.

The historic district has only 180 parking spaces on Main Street, plus 870 in seven public lots. The courthouse spaces are a welcome parking alternative that might make the difference in whether someone stops to shop in Ellicott City.

Howard County's Tourism Council estimates as many as 15,000 people a month visit Ellicott City, with far more tourists during the summer.

Considering ways to get people into the district without adding to the traffic mess makes sense.

The Howard County Transportation Board last year revised bus routes from the Columbia Mall to Ellicott City. But the transit buses run too infrequently to be popular. The bus schedules ought to be reassessed.

The new shuttle will run from Main Street to the courthouse parking lot about every six minutes. That's good because it's about as long as people will wait patiently.

The bus won't travel up and down Main Street, though. It would defeat the purpose of the shuttle to have it mired in traffic.

Ellicott City offers much to see, but it's preferable that you spend some time and see it on foot rather than through the window of your vehicle.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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