Jefferson Streetscape Task Force
Citizens working with government.
Background for the June 29, 2006 Public Meeting
The Task Force is a citizens group formed to work with the State Highway Administration (SHA) on the Jefferson Streetscape project. You may recall that this project started in May 2000 as a cooperative venture between the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the citizens of Jefferson for the purpose of improving our main street (Jefferson Pike or MD 180). After two years and 30 community meetings with MDOT’s engineering team, general public and block meetings, and with the full backing of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, the conceptual design was approved by the community and sent to the legislature as part of the Draft Consolidated Transportation Program.
Note that the state requires that every property owner whose property adjoins
the project area approve the design. To accomplish this, the citizens of
Jefferson, under the direction of the Task Force, and the SHA engineers labored
hard for two years to obtain the approval of 100% of the 100 property owners
along Jefferson Pike - a very remarkable accomplishment. Unfortunately, at the end of Phase 1 in
February 2002, the entire Jefferson Streetscape initiative was shelved due to
state budgetary constraints.
After a two year wait, the funds for Phase 2 (the Engineering Design phase) were finally allocated. In January of this year, SHA engineers redrew the conceptual plan to accommodate new requirements: Federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sidewalk requirements and state guidelines regarding bike compatibility lanes in state construction projects. To our surprise, these redrawn plans forced the elimination of over 30 oneet parking spaces, about half of the total that were in the 2002 conceptual plan. Nearly all the originally planned green space was lost as well.
After a April 6 meeting with Jefferson Pike property owners, the Jefferson Streetscape Task Force unanimously adopted a resolution requesting SHA to redraw the plan without the bike compatibility lanes - to determine just how many parking spaces might be recovered. SHA has produced the plan as requested and discussed it with the Task Force. The Task Force reviewed and unanimously approved this latest, revised plan and now seeks input of Jefferson citizens and the necessary 100% approval by affected property owners.
While many of us regret the elimination of the bike lanes from the design, the physical constraints of our historic town and the practical needs of our residents pragmatically preclude such bike lanes. The town was laid out in the 1840's, so most of its houses abut the road. The lack of space requires choosing some use options over others. We are requesting a waiver from SHA of the bike compatibility guidelines in Jefferson's Streetscape design, so that our Task Force may move forward towards securing approval of the revised design from the citizens and property owners of Jefferson.
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