Group seeks wider focus for U.S. 1 renovations

Corridor enhancement is gaining momentum

February 18, 2000|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A committee working on the revitalization of the U.S. 1 corridor will meet today to expand its focus in Howard County and include a proposed state task force in its efforts.

The Route 1 Revitalization Committee is expected to change its name to Howard One to reflect its new focus to include all of the corridor in Howard.

Howard County Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat and head of the committee, said the group will focus on adopting a mission statement and discuss possible strategies -- including a private-public partnership that would oversee the revitalization effort.

"There have been some good things that have happened along Route 1, but it just hasn't been coordinated," Guzzone said. "We are trying to pull it all together."

Guzzone said the committee is expanding the revitalization effort at the request of Howard County Executive James N. Robey, who has pledged money in next fiscal year's budget to assist the project. Plans to beautify and attract more businesses along the stretch of road that runs from Elkridge south to the Prince George's County line have been discussed for years and have gathered momentum in the past few months -- after Guzzone formed the committee with the help of area business leaders.

The project received another boost when Del. John A. Giannetti proposed in legislation last week that a task force be created to study ways to improve the corridor from the Baltimore Beltway to the Capital Beltway.

Giannetti, a Democrat who represents parts of Howard and Prince George's counties, said the task force would present a report before the next legislative session in hopes of attracting state and federal funds.

"This was a good chance to highlight the problems the Howard County Route 1 corridor was having," said Giannetti, who added that the task force would include legislators from Prince George's, Howard and Baltimore counties and officials from the State Highway Administration and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

"It's a very easy sell because it's what the governor is talking about with Smart Growth and the revitalization of older communities. It's just that now you are talking about the outer beltway communities."

Allen Cornell, vice president of the Michael Companies -- a commercial real estate firm in Lanham that does business along U.S. 1 and a member of the Route 1 Revitalization Committee -- said widening the revitalization efforts "makes imminent sense."

"We need to keep a regional perspective because of our location," Cornell said. "We definitely need to focus on getting the structure together to move the project forward."

Howard County Councilman Christopher J. Merdon, an Elkridge Republican, said he is excited about expanding the U.S. 1 focus.

"If we were to examine each piece, what we would have had would have been a piecemeal approach," Merdon said. "With the inclusion of other areas, we will put all of the issues on the table at once and come up with a more comprehensive effort."

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