U.S. ROUTE 1 is Maryland's Route 66, a throwback to the days before Interstate 95 took the bulk of interstate traffic -- cottage motels from the 1950s and signs for independent businesses such as the fabled "One Spot Flea Killer" dot the landscape.
In recent years, it has taken on the streamlined aesthetics of a corridor of industrial parks and aging strip malls.
Prince George's County and the city of Laurel have used public funds to beautify the highway as it rolls through those communities.
A debate is shaping up on how future monies should be spent to provide a facelift for the businesses along the old road in Howard County.
We asked some people concerned about the development of Route 1 there to offer ideas for the roadway:
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Guy Guzzone, Howard County councilman, head of the Route 1 Revitalization Committee.
I think its important not to condemn what is there or not there. We're aggressively pursuing a lot of different funding. We could see money from the upcoming legislative session, maybe sooner. Right now, we need to spend money on planning and research. Main Street in Laurel is a very different atmosphere than the whole of Route 1 that goes through my district, but if Laurel expands its efforts, we might latch on to it in a way that makes sense for Howard County.
All of the business people who started this endeavor own businesses right on Route 1. It's important to keep in mind that this is evolutionary. Whether you want to maintain a current business for years to come or see the value of the property it sits on increase, believe me, this is a good thing.
Raymond J. Bly, owner of Ray's Used Appliances, 8087 Washington Blvd.
They should just leave it alone. By trying to clean it up, Howard County has run all the Mom-and-Pop businesses off of Route 1 except for a few of us. They want big corporations here. They refuse to issue remodeling permits and harass you to clean up this and that. I used to let people dump appliances on my parking lot, about 100 to 200 a week and a scrap guy would come in to recycle them. I was doing a public service because the closest dumps are about 30 miles from here. They told me I was running an illegal dump site even though it was cleaned up just about every day.
Bill Hrybyk, owner of Flowers by Gina, 5823 Washington Blvd.
I don't know how they're going to improve it. It's not wide enough for a four-lane, 50-mph route that it already is. Drainage is a big problem down here. The county did all the storm drains at the top of Buttermilk Hill. . . . When we get torrential downpours, they have to close the road. They should also change the sign laws back to letting you put a big sign close to the road.
Martin G. Madden, a state senator for parts of Howard and Prince George's counties.
We need to preserve the history and character of Route 1 and we need to deal with the homeless problem under the bridge at the Howard County and Prince George's County line. I echo feelings about the charm of Route 1 -- there's something about Hubcap City and Daniel's [outdoor biker bar] that distinguishes it. A one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work.
Allen Cornell is a real estate broker for the Michael Co., which represents properties on Route 1, and a member of the revitalization committee.
I want a comprehensive plan that looks at more than just what is happening there today or six months from now, something that would be good for the county and the region. Given the Smart Growth initiatives, this land is underutilized. Why create sprawl along the other corridors in the county when you have water and sewer already in place and access to [Routes] 295, 100 and 32? It's one of the most fabulous transportation grids in the country.
Cindy A. Walker, cashier, U.S. One Liquors, 8167 Washington Blvd., and a resident of a nearby trailer park.
It's terrible, nothing you would want to write home about. They need more traffic lights and signs for hidden entrances. Trucks coming across that hill, coming down from [Route] 175 going toward Laurel -- I almost get nailed every time by those tractor trailers. And when you're sitting there waiting to make a turn, you better go down the road and turn around somewhere else. It's a raceway.
Carlos Pabon, owner of That's Dancing, a Fred Astaire Dance Studio, 8610 Washington Blvd.
Things have developed around here in the past seven years, but we'd like more visibility. You see everything on Route 1, but it can be updated. You see old stuff with character next to old stuff that's decaying. It doesn't balance. . . . sometimes when I pick up a client from the airport, I'll go around the long way to bring them back here to avoid certain parts of Route 1.
Rose Burnopp, resident, 10095 Washington Blvd.
I don't have a problem with Route 1 [although] this trailer park I live in is an eyesore. But it's close to the bars and I could walk to my bartending job at the Bottom of the Bay [near Laurel]. I don't think there's any room down here to make it wider.
Suresh Patel, owner, Pin-Del Motel, 9860 Washington Blvd.
Whatever they do, it should benefit the businessman. And particularly they can put in proper traffic lighting and an intersection near Whiskey Bottom Road; it is quite dangerous there. I have tried to get zoning from the county to improve my business -- I have 37 units on 2 1/2 acres -- but they turned me down. My property is not good right now, the motel is almost 50 years old. I can do better than that if they let me improve it.
Interviews were conducted by Sun reporter Rafael Alvarez.