Latest plans for development of Merriweather District

The Howard Hughes Corporation shared additional renderings of the proposed development of Merriweather District (the Crescent) in downtown Columbia to the Howard County Planning Board on November 17, 2017. Simultaneously, they announced that the headquarters of the international cybersecurity company Tenable would be relocating there.

A look at these images and stories gives us a glimpse of what the Merriweather District is becoming.

View of Merriweather District full build-out looking East West: The three new buildings in Area 1, including the MedStar Building, is near the upper right. The Hickory Ridge Road entrance off of Broken Land Parkway is at the “Area 3” label of the yellow box. The Chrysalis is in the foreground.
View of Area 3 looking North, proposed Phase 1 development: Tenable Building is labeled Office A1 and includes a restaurant; Building B includes 382 dwelling units, 556 parking spaces, and restaurant/retail on the ground floor; Parking Garage includes 1,349 parking spaces; Buildings E2 and E3 are for restaurants.
View of Area 3 looking South from Merriweather Post Pavilion: The proposed Tenable Building is front left (Howard Hughes Corporation)
Closeup View of Area 3 looking South: proposed Tenable building is front left (Howard Hughes Corporation)
View of Area 3 looking East, full build-out; Building B apartment is center right overlooking the plaza, E2 restaurant building is in the foreground, and E3 restaurant building at other end of the plaza.

Tenable to relocate to new building in downtown Columbia [EXCERPTS]

by Meredith Cohn and Christopher Dinsmore (The Baltimore Sun) November 17, 2017

Tenable, the fast-growing cybersecurity company based in a Columbia office park, plans to relocate its headquarters to an urban-style campus in downtown Columbia [Merriweather District] and add hundreds of employees in the next few years.

View looking West : A rendering of the proposed headquarters for the cybersecurity company Tenable in downtown Columbia, with Parking Garage on the right (Baltimore Sun)

The Howard Hughes Corp. has pitched the area  to Amazon for its highly prized second headquarters. Tenable plans to occupy the top six floors, or 150,000 square feet, of a 12-story building on the so-called Crescent property.

Tenable’s relocation and expansion will be a key piece for Howard County as it works with Howard Hughes to establish an urban-style downtown and redevelop the area around The Mall in Columbia.

The Merriweather District, where the Tenable building will rise, is planned to include 2,300 residences, a 250-room hotel, over 1.5 million square feet of office space and 314,000 square feet of retail with a central park.

It’s designed to appeal to the “creative class,” such as cyber workers and other high-tech workers, said John DeWolf, Howard Hughes’s executive vice president.

“The redevelopment of downtown Columbia is a transformative development for our state, creating a true urban core in the heart of the celebrated suburban area, nestled between the city of Baltimore and the nation’s capital,” Hogan said.

About Tenable

Tenable™, Inc. is the Cyber Exposure company. Over 23,000 organizations of all sizes around the globe rely on Tenable to manage and measure their modern attack surface to accurately understand and reduce cyber risk. As the creator of Nessus®, Tenable built its platform from the ground up to deeply understand assets, networks and vulnerabilities, extending this knowledge and expertise into™ to deliver the world’s first platform to provide live visibility into any asset on any computing platform. Tenable customers include more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500, large government agencies and mid-sized organizations across the private and public sectors.

Additional images of Merriweather District plans


Is the future of transportation coming to Maryland?

High speed inter-city rail transportation in the United States is nearly nonexistent. Amtrak’s Acela Express in the Northeast Corridor, capable of speeds up to 150 mph, averages just 65 mph due to limitations of the existing track. But two proposals for trains using very different technology could radically change the future of transportation in the Northeast Corridor. Here’s an introduction to these game-changing technologies.

Elon Musk to start hyperloop project in Maryland, officials say

by Erin Cox and Sarah Gantz (Baltimore Sun), October 19, 2017

Maryland has given transportation pioneer Elon Musk permission to dig tunnels for the high-speed, underground transit system known as a hyperloop that Musk wants to build between New York and Washington.

Hogan administration officials said Thursday the state has issued a conditional utility permit to let Musk’s tunneling firm, The Boring Co., dig a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, between the Baltimore city line and Maryland 175 in Hanover.

It would be the first portion of the underground system that Musk says could eventually ferry passengers from Washington to New York, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia, in just 29 minutes. Maryland’s approval is the first step of many needed to complete the multibillion-dollar project.

Administration officials said they will treat the hyperloop like a utility, and permitted it in the same way the state allows electric companies to burrow beneath public rights-of-way.

“We have all sorts of utilities beneath our roadways,” [Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete] Rahn said. “In essence, this didn’t need anything more than a utility permit.”

The Boring Co. aims to reduce traffic congestion by creating a low-cost, efficient system of tunnels. The company has developed tunneling machines it says will drill quickly through soft soils at a fraction of the cost of traditional tunneling.

The hyperloop technology uses electric motors and magnets to transport train cars through a low-pressure tube.  The firm has proposed building a similar hyperloop in Southern California.

Rahn, the transportation secretary, said the Boring Co. will start with two 35-mile tubes between Baltimore and Washington. Rahn said the company hopes to assemble its drilling machines at the Hanover site.

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop may have competition from a maglev train with $28 million in government funding

by Danielle Muoio (Business Insider), September 11, 2017

The Northeast Maglev (TNEM), a private company, was founded in 2011 with the goal of building a high-speed rail between New York and the country’s capital. TNEM wants to first build the route between Washington D.C. and Baltimore before eventually extending it to New York.

TNEM said its rail would be able to transport passengers between Washington D.C. and Baltimore in just 15 minutes. Traversing D.C. to New York would take an hour. By comparison, Amtrak’s Acela train, its fastest option, takes just under three hours.

Central Japan Railway Company Superconducting Maglev (SCMAGLEV), U.S.- Japan MAGLEV, LLC (click on image for source)

A maglev train built by Central Japan Railway set a world speed record of 375 mph in 2015. The maglev will eventually connect Tokyo and Nagoya, but won’t open to the public until 2027.  Central Japan Railway, a private company, has said it will collaborate with TNEM on the US project.

TNEM has acquired a railroad franchise and a $28 million grant from Maryland’s Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation. The company has also collected $100 million in private funding.

Three alternate routes being considered for the Maglev between Baltimore and Washington. Dashed lines indicate section below ground. (Maryland Transit Administration – click on picture for image source)

Still, a maglev train won’t come cheap. The Baltimore-Washington D.C. route will alone cost “north of $10 billion,” Rogers said. He said tickets would cost “slightly more” than an Acela train, but declined to give specifics. “Tunneling is the main cost and the main driver of schedule,” he said.

What is The Superconducting Maglev (SCMAGLEV)?

SCMAGLEV is the latest advancement in the world of high-speed ground transportation. This revolutionary system is not your typical train. In development since 1962, the SCMAGLEV is a futuristic magnetic levitation system that uses powerful magnetic forces for all aspects of operation—acceleration, deceleration, guidance and levitation—resulting in operating speeds of over 300 miles per hour in everyday service, and travel times unlike anything traditional trains can achieve.

Rather than riding directly on standard steel railroad tracks, SCMAGLEV trains levitate between the walls of a unique concrete structure known as a guideway. The U-shaped guideway has walls surrounding the trains on both sides, making the system free from derailment.

Everything you wanted to know about bullet trains

by The Economic Times, September 18, 2017

What is a high speed railway?

There’s no standard definition, but a railway system designed for speeds above 250 kmph [155 mph] is generally called high speed — sections of these routes may have lower speed limits for safety reasons. Only 16 nations have high-speed railways — China boasts the world’s longest network with 27,000 km [about 17,000 miles] of such tracks. Japan, Spain, France and Germany are the others where tracks dedicated for high-speed trains stretch over 1,000 km [621 miles].

Japan Central’s N700 high speed train, with maximum speed of 177 mph
When was the first high-speed network built?

Japan’s high-speed line between Tokyo and Osaka was inaugurated in 1964; the famous Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ (named for its shape) could reach a speed of 210 kmph. In 1977, sections of the Florence-Rome line became Europe’s first high-speed railway at top speed of 250 kmph. The entire route was completed in 1992. The national French rail company started its first full high-speed line, between Paris and Lyons, on September 27, 1981, with top speed of 260 kmph.

Can these trains run on conventional tracks?

Most high-speed trains run on conventional tracks similar to conventional gauge systems, but built with stronger material. The train on such a track is likely to have two synchronised engines (power cars), one at either end. Most receive power from roof-mounted pantographs and overhead supply lines. A large part of route alignment is kept straight to support high speed. Although in most countries these trains operate on dedicated tracks, many can also run on conventional tracks at reduced speeds.

Assistance to homeless persons enhanced by opening of community resource center

Howard County, Md. recently opened a new facility for homeless persons, the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center.  It now houses the Day Resource Center that previously operated on Route 1, includes 35 apartments, and is based on an increasingly popular model for addressing homelessness called “Housing First.” Here is a primer on the new center and the challenge of homelessness in Howard County, Md.

(This post is an update of a previous HoCoMDcc post, “Howard County’s Latest Effort to End Homelessness”, June 21, 2016)

Howard County officials unveil Dorsey Community Resource Center

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times), October 2, 2017 [EXCERPTS]

Amid a crowd of nearly 100 people, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman unveiled the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center on Monday, joined by Howard County Housing Commissioner Peter Engel, state Sens. Gail Bates and Guy Guzzone and several other officials.

County Executive Allan Kittleman and Charles Dorsey, son of civil rights activist Leola Dorsey, cut the ribbon at the opening of the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center on Oct. 2. (Kate Magill/ BSMG)

The facility, located near Guilford Road in Jessup, includes 35 permanent residences [operated by Volunteers of America Chesapeake] and a first-floor day resource center, operated by Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.

With its ability to serve more than 100 people a day, Engel noted that the center is able to serve at least half of the county’s homeless population on any given day. There were 214 homeless individuals in Howard County in 2016, according to state data.

The idea for the new center grew out of a recommendation from the county’s Plan to End Homelessness in 2010, which outlined goals for the county in tackling situational homeless — which occurs when stable individuals and families cannot afford housing due to job loss, injury or other disaster — and chronic homelessness, which often involves individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems. According to the report, Howard County has primarily struggled with situational homeless.

Earlier illustration of planned Leola Dorsey Center

The center’s 35 permanent residence units are also aimed at utilizing the “housing first” approach encouraged in the report, based on the concept that when an individual has stable housing, they are able to focus more energy on other tasks such as finding employment.

The Residences at the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center


Volunteers of America Chesapeake, Inc. is a faith-based, non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire self-reliance, dignity and hope through health and human services.

The Residences at the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center (LDCRC) is a permanent housing program that provides support services to individuals that are chronically homeless or at risk of homelessness. Supportive Services are voluntary, except for case management, and include onsite counseling support and community resources to establish opportunities for residents who need assistance towards making positive life changes necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.

The Residences has 35 single unit efficiency apartments with on-site laundry facilities. A community room for program activities and meetings is also available to the residents.

Homeless individuals can relax in the first floor area and receive hot meals from the kitchen (from Volunteers of America Chesapeake blog) – click on image for more pictures.

Our services and activities include but are not limited to: case management, mental health/substance abuse services, assistance with public benefits, employment assistance, financial literacy classes, life skills training, health education classes/screenings, cooking and nutrition classes. Residents are assisted and referred for healthcare needs and benefits, GED classes, vocational training and other.

Homeless individuals can receive donated clothes from the free pantry (from Volunteers of America Chesapeake blog) – click on image for more pictures.

Grassroots Day Resource Center moves to Leola Dorsey Center

With enthusiastic support from the churches, local government and foundations, the Grassroots Day Resource Center was opened in July 2008 to better serve this population (the homeless).  The Center provides showers, laundry, clothing, internet access, phone, mailing address, basic living supplies, conversation and referrals to social services. The homeless consumers were involved in determining the services, hours of operation and policies. The Center is operated under the auspices of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, staffed by volunteers and guided by a project coordinator. In the first 3 months over 140 individuals were served.

Previous site of Day Resource Center on Route 1

In our fiscal year that ended in June 2016 we served 831 people, averaging 60 people a day. We gave away 399 pairs of shoes, over 52,000 food items, close to 13,000 clothing items, 22 tents, 54 tarps and 31 sleeping bags. We could not do this without the support of about 50 congregations in Howard County and the city of Laurel, as well as numerous organizations, companies, schools and individuals that run fundraisers, food and/or clothing drives, donate out of date but usable food and clothing items.

The summer of 2017 will finally bring us to our new building. We are looking forward to having a space all on one floor with new kitchen, shower and laundry facilities, an improved medical suite and designated office space for all the outside services we provide.

And who was Leola Dorsey?

Leola Dorsey (from Howard County Center for African American Culture) – click on image for source

The center is named after Leola Dorsey, an iconic civil rights activist and leader in Howard County, who grew up down the road from the site and fought for the rights of the county’s African American residents. In 1947, Dorsey was president of the newly formed chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, among other community organizations.


Howard County Plan To End Homelessness

by Howard County Dept of Citizen Services – November 2010

Despite Howard County’s affluence, and despite an extensive system of shelters and other services, homelessness persists here. More than 200 people each day are living in shelters – or in the woods or in cars. Hundreds more are at risk of homelessness, doubled up, moving from couch to couch, or threatened with eviction.

Shelter beds are nearly always full, and about a dozen people are turned away in an average day. Emergency funds run out before the emergencies do. Families that are precariously housed often don’t get help until they’re actually on the street. The county lacks the type of supportive housing needed to get the chronically homeless out of the woods.

Homelessness is costly. Numerous studies from across the country show that the chronically homeless consume disproportionate shares of hospital and police costs. And it isn’t just the taxpayers who are bearing the cost. Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school and twice as likely to go hungry. The Howard County Public School System last year identified 462 children who were homeless or at risk of homelessness – up 27 percent from the year before.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Homelessness is not inevitable. We don’t have to learn to live with it. It can be prevented. And other communities are showing that it can be done. Here are the keys:

  • Prevention efforts to provide stabilization services to persons that might otherwise become homeless; and a
  • Housing First approach to move homeless persons as rapidly as possible to permanent housing.

This Plan shows us the way. It was drafted by the Committee to End Homelessness, at the request of the Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency. The Board was created by the county executive and county council to promote the economic stability of individuals and families and reduce the incidence of poverty in Howard County.

The Plan reviews what’s known about homelessness in Howard County, enumerates current efforts to deal with the problem, and points to a new paradigm of Prevention and Housing First adapted to the local situation.

The New Program Model: “Housing First

   by National Alliance to End Homelessness

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach  that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed. This approach prioritizes client choice in both housing selection and in service participation.

Housing First programs share critical elements:

  • A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible;
  • A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed and entirely voluntary basis; and
  • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.

While all Housing First programs share these elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, long-term services and support may be needed.

Featured image at top of post

from Volunteers of America Chesapeake blog

The future of transportation is “Complete Streets”

Transportation has been in the news a lot lately. Governor Hogan announced his intention to spend $9 billion on a massive highway project. Howard County is holding public hearings on how to upgrade our public transit system. Columbia Association just held its annual BikeAbout. And Horizon Foundation is holding its Open Streets event Sunday October 1st.

We need to think of these aspects of transportation as an integrated whole or else we’ll waste a lot of money without fully supporting our community needs. Contrary to Governor Hogan’s approach, Howard County has committed to a “Complete Streets” policy, and the Open Streets event will demonstrate what that is.  Here I attempt to make sense of it all.

Governor Hogan announces widening of I-270, Capital Beltway (I-495), and Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295)

Annapolis MD, Sept 21, 2017

Delivering on his commitment to provide innovative transportation solutions for Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan today announced the administration’s plans to add four new lanes to I-270, the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295).

Baltimore-Washington Parkway (National Park Service – click on photo for source)

“These three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I-495, I-270, and MD 295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” said Governor Hogan. “Today, we are turning Maryland’s celebrated innovation into real action. These projects will substantially and dramatically improve our state highway system and traffic in the region.”

Howard regional transit public meetings continue

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times) Sept 14, 2007

The Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland and Maryland Transit Administration hosted the second of four public meetings Wednesday night about the upcoming transit development plan, meant to upgrade the public transit system in Howard, Anne Arundel and parts of Prince George’s counties.

The plan aims to address residents’ woes about issues such as lengthy wait times for service and indirect routes. . . . Some of the changes residents said they most wanted included increased weekend service and more frequent bus service throughout the day.

[Officials] hope to put the plan before the Howard County Council for approval by the end of the year . . . .  However, the council’s approval of the plan does not guarantee that it will be funded.





from Caltrans “Complete Streets Elements Toolbox” (click on photo for source)
from Caltrans Complete Streets Elements Toolbox (click on photo for source)
from the city of Gardner, Massachusetts (click on photo for source)

Howard County Complete Streets Policy – October 2016

“To ensure that Howard County is a place for individuals of all backgrounds to live and travel freely, safely, and comfortably, public and private roadways in Howard County shall be safe and convenient for residents of all ages and abilities who travel by foot, bicycle, public transportation or automobile, ensuring sustainable communities Countywide.” – Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Executive, Council Resolution 35-2016.

The County shall approach every transportation improvement and project phase as an opportunity to create safer, more accessible streets for all users of all ages and abilities, including people who walk, bike, take the bus, and drive cars and trucks. These phases include, but are not limited to: planning, programming, design, right-of-way acquisition, subdivision and land development, new construction, construction engineering, reconstruction, operation, repair, and maintenance. This applies to both new and retrofit projects.

Examples of Complete Streets in Howard County


Design for Centennial Lane that was implemented June 2017 (by Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Centennial Lane is a good example, and the improvements were made recently.  Buffered bike lanes and a new marked crosswalk with pedestrian refuge island near Centennial Elementary School. The crosswalk makes crossing the road much more comfortable and has created a much improved community feel, with many more people out and about on foot and on bike.”

Centennial Lane at Breconshire Road (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)
by Howard County Government


Columbia Multi-Use Pathway, Little Patuxent Parkway (photo by Downtown Columbia Partnership – click photo for source)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Another example is Little Patuxent Parkway in Downtown Columbia. The big improvement there is the new shared use pathway, which runs from Howard County General Hospital to Blandair Park. Much of it is parallel to Little Patuxent Parkway, changing what was previously an auto orientated area to what is now a pleasant, comfortable, and convenient route for walking and biking.”


Old Stockbridge Drive at Falling Leaves Court, Waterloo (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“This is a street that works well for everyone. Wide, well maintained sidewalks on both sides with grass buffers between the sidewalk and the road. Bike lanes on each side of the road. Marked crosswalks with bump outs to calm traffic, shorten the crossing distance, and improve visibility of pedestrians crossing.”

Learn more at the Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st, 11 am – 3 pm

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Featured image at top of post

My thanks to Chris Eatough, Howard County Office of Transportation, for his assistance with this blog post.

Howard County is a bicycling community – Join the fun!

As temperatures cool, more and more people are bicycling, for fun, exercise, and basic transportation. Howard County provides numerous opportunities to join the movement. There are several events coming up in the next few weeks and organizations that are devoted to cycling. Our transportation infrastructure is changing to support a more walkable and bikeable community. Bicycles are now available on demand for short trips around Columbia.

Come join the fun. There are no excuses not to.

Columbia Bikeabout — Saturday Sept. 23rd

Columbia Association’s (CA) annual BikeAbout will be held Saturday, Sept. 23rd, with riders setting off from the dock at Lake Elkhorn. The free, fun and informative tour presents Columbia’s history and showcases the connectivity of its pathway system.

This year’s route is 10 miles long and winds through the villages of Owen Brown, Oakland Mills and Long Reach. In celebration of Columbia’s 50th Birthday, the theme of this year’s BikeAbout is “Appreciate the past and imagine the future.” To accommodate families with young children, a shorter ride is available around Lake Elkhorn with enjoyable activities and fun facts about Columbia.

Howard County Bikeshare

Howard County Bikeshare is public transportation on your schedule. Grab a bike, go for a ride, give it back. . . . Launched in 2017, the Howard County Bikeshare system offers electric-assist bicycles to their users. It’s easy, fun and comfortable. Howard County becomes a leader in active transportation by offering both electric-assist and traditional options for residents and visitors to explore the region. Howard County Bikeshare is available 24/7 and is perfect for errands, commuting, or recreation.

Bikeshare Program

Going for a ride is simple – with a network of 7 stations and 70 bikes, riders can register for a Yearly, Monthly and Go Pass on the website (Go Pass also available on the app), or for a Single-trip at a station kiosk and start riding within minutes. Try one out today!

Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Open Streets Howard County

Open Streets Howard County is an initiative of the Horizon Foundation that seeks to promote a more bikeable and walkable community where everyone can safely and easily travel by bike or on foot.  Open Streets Howard County starts with the simple and proven idea that the design of our streets and neighborhoods should support and promote healthy living. Residents of communities that are built to encourage walking and cycling typically enjoy improved health outcomes, as well as many other benefits.

Nearly half of adults in the United States fail to meet the recommended amount of physical activity. But people living in areas with safe, comfortable, healthy transportation options — like bike lanes and sidewalks — are far more likely to meet those guidelines. Reimagining our roads as “complete streets” that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers will help us more easily integrate walking, biking and other healthy transportation choices into our daily lives.

Cycle to Health, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence

Cycle2Health Howard County is a non-competitive, peer-led, bicycling club for adults of all ages and riding abilities, coordinated by the Health & Wellness Division of the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence (OAI).  You must register to participate.

Rides take place during the week and on some weekends, during daytime hours, and depart from various locations in and around Howard County.  Rides depart in the morning, with the exact departure time varying by route and season. To provide an opportunity for safe and enjoyable riding for all C2H participants, three to four different level rides are offered each week throughout the riding season:

  • Casual rides are rides of less than 12 miles on relatively flat terrain at a relaxed pace. These rides are on pathways, trails or quiet residential streets with frequent re-grouping.
  • Moderate rides are rides of less than 20 miles at 10-12 MPH with some moderate short hills and maybe a longer hill.  Moderate riders should be comfortable riding in some traffic and should know basic group riding etiquette.
  • Moderate-Advanced rides are rides of 16-25 miles at 11.5-13 MPH, depending on the climb rate (slightly slower than the advanced rides). They include some moderate short hills and some moderate to steep grades. Riders should be comfortable riding with traffic and knowledgeable of group riding etiquette.
  • Advanced rides are rides of over 20 miles at 13-15 MPH and will include moderate to steep hills with limited rest stops. Riders should be aware of their riding ability and limitations before participating in an advanced ride.

Cue sheets will be made available in advance of the ride and riders are encouraged to drive the route to determine if the route is appropriate for them. Riders just getting back to riding or those who haven’t had experience riding in a group venue are encouraged to start with the Casual Ride group.

Bicycling Advocates of Howard County 9th Annual Bike HoCo/All-Club Ride — Saturday October 7th

Time again to join other Howard County bicyclists and cycling clubs on BAHC’s 9th Annual Bike HoCo (All-Club) Ride. Enjoy a GREAT Fall ride (63/45/34/26 mile routes) and post-ride social (beer/soft drinks). Start location will be at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory adjacent to the softball field on Sanner Road; check-in starts at 8:30am.

The Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (Bike HoCo) is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization founded in 2008 as a coalition of cycling clubs and bicycle riders in Howard County, Maryland. Bike HoCo advocates to improve the visibility and safety of bicycling, supports bicycling education programs for adults and children, and promotes a vision of bicycling and sharing the road as part of a healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally sound transportation system to help achieve a sustainable future for Howard County and for Maryland.

Howard County Bicycle Master Plan

In April of 2016, Howard County adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan provides guidance for both transportation and recreational bicycling, both on-street and off-street. Recommendations are provided in the general areas of infrastructure improvements, policy and programs.

Goals and objectives are:

  • Identify and develop countywide system of bicycle facilities to foster connectivity within and between the following: villages, communities and neighborhoods throughout the County, as well as neighboring cities and counties, parks and recreation centers, schools and educational institutions, commercial and employment centers, and regional and local transit facilities.
  • Facilitate recreational and transportation trips by bicycle in the County and improve safety for all types of bicyclists.
  • Recommend County policies that will support bicycling, including bikeway facility design.
  • Build public support for implementation of the Plan.

The approved version of Bike Howard is presented below. You can view the Plan on-line, print it or download it. You can magnify and zoom in on the detail in the maps and the Plan by using your mouse wheel with the PDF menus View/Zoom and then Dynamic Zoom.

Columbia Recognized As “Bicycle Friendly Community”

The community of Columbia, Maryland, has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award, joining more than 370 other visionary communities that are transforming our neighborhoods in all 50 states.

This bronze award recognizes the commitment by Columbia Association, the Howard County Government and other community stakeholders to improving conditions for people who bicycle through investments in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

A report card issued by the League of American Bicyclists recognized the community’s miles of bicycle networks, bike-to-work events, an active bicycle advocacy group and advisory committee, bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances, committed bike program staff and an up-to-date bike plan that is in the process of being implemented.

The improvements that have already come out of these master plans include new on- and off-road bike lanes and pathways, the addition of wayfinding signage, expanded educational and safety programs, a dedicated police pathway patrol squad, the widening of highly used pathways to 10 feet to increase comfort for all users, and a smartphone app for Columbia pathway routes.

Featured Image at top of the post

Bicycle rush hour in Copenhagen, where 37% of the population ride their bikes each day (by Mikael Colville-Andersen)

Substance abuse is prevalent in Howard County. What are we doing about it?

Actually, Howard County is not unusual in the extent of our substance use and abuse. And like everywhere else, addiction follows for too many of us. Whether addiction is to a licit or illicit drug, the results to one’s well-being are much the same.  Given that addicts are from all walks of life, all income groups, all races and creeds, it’s difficult to argue that imprisonment is the best solution. And most folks need help to recover from an addiction. Here’s a primer on addiction and what help is available in the HoCo.

Prevalence of Substance Use in the United States

According to SAMHSA’s [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – 2014 (PDF | 3.4 MB), about two-thirds (66.6%) of people aged 12 or older reported in 2014 that they drank alcohol in the past 12 months, with 6.4% meeting criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Also among Americans aged 12 or older, the use of illicit drugs has increased over the last decade from 8.3% of the population using illicit drugs in the past month in 2002 to 10.2% (27 million people) in 2014. Of those, 7.1 million people met criteria for an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.

The misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation’s most common drug problem after alcohol and tobacco, leading to troubling increases in opioid overdoses in the past decade. An estimated 25.2% (66.9 million) of Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product. While tobacco use has declined since 2002 for the general population, this has not been the case for people with serious mental illness where tobacco use remains a major cause of morbidity and early death.

[The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.]

Location hunt underway for county’s first detox center

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times), July 18, 2017 [EXCERPTS]

As Maryland continues its battle against opioid abuse, Howard County is taking steps toward opening its first residential detoxification center, something officials say is desperately needed and overdue.

A team including officials from the county’s health department and the county executive’s office are working rapidly to find an appropriate location to serve the still-growing number of substance abusers in Howard County, said Carl DeLorenzo, the administration’s director of policy and programs. DeLorenzo is heading up the project alongside Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman, with the goal of choosing a location for the center within the next year, DeLorenzo said.

Emergency Department Visits for Substance Use by Howard County Residents [from presentation to the Howard County Mental Health Task Force by Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer, October 8, 2014]
As the county embarks on its major project, the opioid epidemic continues to take its toll on Howard residents. Between January and June of this year, there were 91 reported non-fatal opioid related overdoses, 87 of which were heroin related, according to data from the Howard County Police Department. There were 26 opioid-related deaths in the first six months of 2017, 23 of which were heroin related, according to the department.

Howard County Health Department [Selected Activities]

  • [The Howard County Health Department] serves as Howard County’s Local Addiction Authority (LAA).  Among other activities, the LAA is coordinating with other providers to secure a full continuum of outpatient SUD treatment services available for Howard County residents. This includes reaching out to providers to determine interest in offering (or expanding) SUD treatment services in the County.

  • [The LAA] identifies and addresses the barriers for those who have private health insurance to assure timely access to affordable services. Provides education to consumers regarding health insurance coverage, including how to access services along the continuum of services.
  • HCHD has an MOU with the Howard County Public School System with the Maryland Student Assistance Program offering assessments, outpatient treatment and referrals for substance use disorders for adolescent.
Reported Substance Use by Howard County High School Students [from presentation to the Howard County Mental Health Task Force by Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer, October 8, 2014]
  • Referrals are made with local outpatient services provides to include (but not limited to) Way Station, Humanim, JAEL, Silverman’s Treatment Solutions, I Can’t We Can, MPB Group, Kolmac Clinic,  Integrative/ Congruent Counseling, and Columbia Addiction Center to facilitate referrals and coordination of care for individuals in need to mental health, methadone, and SUD services.
  • HCHD contracts with Living in Recovery (males & females) and Project Encompass (females) to purchase recovery housing in Howard County. Peer recovery support staff work in different locations including: the Recovery and Wellness Center engaging peers in recovery support activities; Drug Court, Rt. 1 Resource Center, and private treatment providers offering recovery support and referrals to treatment.

Get Help from Howard County Health Department


Call 410-313-6202 to discuss Behavioral Health service options. If help is needed with a substance abuse issue after hours, call 800-422-0009.


Howard County Treatment Resources for Substance Use Disorder (excluding Recovery Services)

Recovery and Recovery Support

Today, when individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders seek help, they are met with the knowledge and belief that anyone can recover and/or manage their conditions successfully. SAMHSA has established a working definition of recovery that defines recovery as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.

Model for breaking the cycle of addiction-rehab-relapse (by Living in Recovery, Howard County).

Recovery support is provided through treatment, services, and community-based programs by behavioral health care providers, peer providers, family members, friends and social networks, the faith community, and people with experience in recovery. Recovery support services help people enter into and navigate systems of care, remove barriers to recovery, stay engaged in the recovery process, and live full lives in communities of their choice.

A model of recovery services: Penn North Neighborhood Center, Baltimore

A pioneer in wellness and recovery, Maryland Community Health Initiatives, Inc. (Penn North) was among the first programs in the United States to use acupuncture in the treatment of addiction—starting the first Acudetox program in the Baltimore City Detention Center in 1993. Penn North was the first program in Baltimore City to provide free on-demand recovery support 24-hours a day through the Threshold to Recovery program.

Penn North’s workforce development program provides soft skills training to prepare participants to enter (or re-enter) the workforce and placement assistance to support them in locating, securing, and maintaining living-wage employment. Our supportive housing program provides healthy and affordable housing to 200 men and women in recovery.

Penn North

At the heart of one of Baltimore’s busiest intersections (Pennsylvania and North Avenues) adjacent to the Penn North subway and bus lines, Department of Social Services, DHMH Men’s Health Center and Enoch Pratt Library—Penn North is centrally located at the intersection of the historic West Baltimore neighborhoods of Penn North, Sandtown-Winchester, Greater Mondawmin, and Druid Heights.

The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Narcotics Anonymous World Regional Map of Weekly Meetings


How government and nonprofit services came to be in HoCo

Forty-six years ago, as rural Howard County was being inundated by Columbia, a three-day charrette was held to consider what human service needs should be addressed by government and nonprofit organizations. Organized by the Association of Community Services and Howard Community College, the charrette was attended by some 335 people, including citizens, providers, community leaders, new Countians and old Countians. 

They overcame distrust, suspicions and competing interests to reach consensus on a report that is excerpted here. Many ideas were visionary, others just practical, some misguided. The goals they outlined are a measure of how far we’ve come in nearly half a century, and point to what more we have to do to create the city and county that James Rouse envisioned  – a place that provides for the growth of people.

It all started with James Rouse

In 1969, James Rouse created the Columbia Foundation [now the Community Foundation of Howard County] the first community foundation in the state of Maryland.  He and members of the founding board had the prescience to realize that the new town of Columbia would continue to grow and attract new residents and would have pressing needs for decades to come.

[James Rouse stated], “We have always envisaged bringing into being the coordinating leadership, on a continuing basis, to overlook the quality of life of the city; assert entrepreneurial initiative to bring into being new institutions as required; encourage existing institutions to spread their services to areas not covered or avoid unnecessary duplications”.

[In] 1971, the Foundation awarded its first grant to the Association of Community Services of Howard County to “explore human services needs and possible approaches.”

The Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar (October 1970 – December, 1971) [EXCERPTS]

by Richard E. Dewey (Editor)for Howard County Association of Community Services and Howard Community College. Partially funded through Program Impact Title I of the Higher Education of Act of 1965 as well as grants from The Columbia Foundation and the Office of Health Care Programs of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. 

Purposes and Goals of the Seminar

Howard County, Maryland faces demographic, social, economic and political strains in the years ahead that are unmatched, perhaps, anywhere in the nation. Until a few years ago, Howard County was exclusively rural in character. . . . Then, within the decade of the sixties, the spiraling increase in land value of the corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. caught up Howard County and attracted the developers of a “new town” they called columbia [sic]. Suddenly, Howard County faced the 1980 prospect of a city of 110,000 in the heart of its pastoral tranquility.

Invitation to the Community Action Seminar, November 19-21, 1971 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

To measure the impact of such an eventuality, one has only to consider the rate of growth involved. At the time of the Seminar, which prompts this report, and only four years after [Columbia’s] founding, there were 16,000 people living in Columbia and 67,000 in the county as a whole. Twelve thousand more residents will pour into columbia this coming year.

How does a rural county absorb that sort of influx? What strains does it impose? What problems does it create? In November of 1970 a small group of County residents began to hold living room discussions aimed at exploring the needs for new and better human services in a growing Howard County. From the beginning, it was clear that the way selected to approach the county’s needs was through a seminar or charrette situation. Consequently, as early as May, 1971 it was possible to outline the goals for such a weekend program as being:

  • To define the meaning of human resources and social services in Howard County.
  • To investigate and inventory the needs of Howard County population for such services.
  • To develop an integrated delivery system to provide such services.
  • To design the evaluation instrument to measure success.
  • Proposed attendees will include representatives from approximately thirty county social service agencies and private organizations, the County Government, educational agencies, and representatives of the so-called “consumers” of Howard County.
Invitation to the Community Action Seminar, November 19-21, 1971 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Planning for the seminar

Any explanation of the Seminar itself, and the careful planning that led to it, must first make clear three tangential conditions which greatly influenced the shaping of the Seminar.  The first was a universally accepted sense of tension – a dangerous mixture of distrust, misunderstanding and arrogance – existing between the residents of the new town and the residents of the County. No matter what area of concern one investigated, the breech was always there.

From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

The second condition was the fresh memory in many minds of a similar charrette conducted in Columbia in January, 1970 [one devoted to higher education]. The successes and failures of that previous experience in many ways shaped the Human Services Seminar.  The third condition was the timing imposed upon the Seminar . . . that several other concurrent events would be stimulated or improved only if planners adhered to the [November] date.

Human Service Needs of Howard County

Advocacy Task Force

Because of the wide dispersion of services available in Howard County and because of the lack of knowledge about these services, it is advised that an advocacy system be established which would incorporate the concept of “ombudsman.”

  • To convene a mini-seminar in each voting district of the County by January 31, 1972. These to serve as two-way communication between Seminar and consumers.
  • To establish a county ombudsman, or advocate with satellite offices.
  • To develop a 24-hour information and referral exchange.
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Aging Task Force

At the present there is no provision for the housing or care of the elderly — be it boarding, nursing, residential, or otherwise. This has substantially reduced the aged population in Howard County, because anyone requiring one of these facilities must be accommodated outside the County. The point was made that if Howard County carried its proper responsibility for its elderly, it would not only benefit the residents requiring this care – not to speak of their families – but remove an unfair burden on surrounding counties.

  • To develop barrier free, ground level access, to all public buildings, particularly those which provide services to the aging.
  • To develop a shopper service for homebound elderly and/or a mobile store.
  • To develop a special information booklet for the elderly of Howard County.
  • To assist in the creation of a residential environment especially designed for the non self-sufficient resident.
  • To promote special transportation arrangements for the elderly.
  • To provide foster homes for the elderly.
Community Mental Health Task Force

Community mental health services within Howard County have been of a limited nature in the past. There has not been established a community mental health system delivering comprehensive services as outlined under the various Federal guidelines resulting from the Community Mental Health Centers Acts of 1965 and 1963.

Services have essentially been limited to outpatient clinics set up by the health department, and some consultative communications (indirect services) between the mental health clinic staff and staffs of the Public Health Nursing Section and the Department of Education.

  • To provide education programs in the public schools and elsewhere on sex instruction, drug abuse, and family life
  • To promote the establishment of:
    • Halfway houses for runaways
    • Quarterway houses for alcoholics
    • Detoxification and rehabilitation center
    • Family Counselling and Psychiatric care programs
Education Task Force

The general consensus of the group was that no area of need in education was not already being studied or dealt with by some other group within the County.

  • Create a continuing program to train students to serve in student and community government, specifically the County School Board.
  • Create a Black Studies Program for all levels of education in the County.  Increase the number of black teachers to a level commensurate with the County’s black population ratio.
  • Institute programs for the building of skills in human relations, communication and personal growth skills for students and teachers.
  • Make County schools into Community Centers for day long and year round use.
  • Promote the use of non-certified by technically qualified persons as teaching resources.
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Employment and Poverty Task Force
  • To link vocation education in the county with available and potential job opportunities.
  • To assist a change in local employment practices making them more flexible.
  • To promote among local businesses a more positive attitude towards the hiring and promotion of blacks, women and minorities.
  • To discover and extend more local alternatives in career opportunities for blacks, women and minority groups.
Health and Handicapped Task-Force
  • Develop a sheltered workshop for handicapped in Howard County
  • Provide a more relevant education program for handicapped children within Howard County School System
  • Create a General Hospital for Howard County
  • Attract more physicians to the County
  • Train teachers to relate better to handicapped children
  • Establish program of adequate health care for all regardless of income
  • Change laws to allow physicians to practice in homes and commercial offices
  • Create a barrier-free environment for the handicapped
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Housing Task Force

The Housing Task Force shared a deep concern about existing substandard housing in Howard County; Complete lack of availability of housing options for low income families; No opportunity for purchase of new housing any where in Howard County for families with incomes below $9,672 for townhouses and $10,152 for a single family dwelling; Limited numbers of subsidized units in the county:

  • To develop a Public Housing Authority in Howard County to provide housing for low income families.
  • Take whatever steps are necessary to obtain rent supplements for low income families.
  • County Council to amend laws to allow for more low cost, low income housing opportunities consistent with metropolitan population.
Transportation Task Force

The lack of a public transportation system in Howard County is a serious handicap to many residents, especially the elderly, the disabled and the poor. Many Howard County residents live in rural areas far from major thoroughfares and lacking the use of a private car and have very limited access to employment, goods and services.

Of equal importance is the fact that the absence of a public transportation system has an adverse effect on the environment. The ever increasing number of singly occupied cars causes further congestion of roads and parking space as well as an increase in the accident rate and in pollution.

From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

It should be the responsibility of government to provide for a transportation system which is flexible, multi-faceted, and accessible to everyone. In order to achieve success financially and ecologically, a mass transit system must be convenient and economical for the passengers so that the use of private cars will become less desirable and less practical.

  • To develop a public transportation system easily accessible to all Howard Countians 24 hours a day.
  • Include transportation needs in the General Plan for Howard County
  • Illustrate to County officials that County progress is impeded because the lack of mass transit results in excessive transportation costs for local agencies, businesses and individuals.
  • Publicize the problems and some of the possible solutions.
Youth Task Force

The area of youth covers such a wide span of concerns only the issues which we felt were of the greatest importance were discussed in depth. As a result of our group discussions, we reached these conclusions:

  • Create a County-wide youth advisory commission to assist all governmental units in matters regarding young people.
  • Get more youth representatives on County boards and commissions.
  • Involve more youth in Friendship Exchange programs.
  • Create more recreation opportunities for young people in the County.
  • Eliminate restraints on smoking in the high schools.

Excerpts from the Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (from Columbia Archives)

And what was the view in 2009?

Howard County’s Human Services Master Plan (HSMP) was developed through a partnership of the Department of Citizen Services and the Association of Community Services, with participation from a broad range of organizations and community members. Organized by population group, and covering a wide spectrum of human service issues, the HSMP outlines our community’s aspirations for its residents.

Individuals and families:
  • Are able to meet their basic needs
Children, youth, and families:
  • Are healthy
  • Children enter school ready to learn
  • Children and youth are successful in school
  • Children, youth and families are safe in their homes and communities
Older adults:
  • Maintain optimal mental and physical health
  • Engage in the life of the community
  • Live as independently as possible
  • Are safe in their homes and communities
People living with disabilities:
  • Enjoy the same opportunities as others
  • Have meaningful opportunities for education and employment
  • Are safe in their homes and communities