Five Ideas for Frederick Road

A group of community leaders met with State Highway Administration officials to discuss options.


A group of community leaders is hoping to keep the momentum of small busines revitilization going on Frederick Road by further partnering with the State Highway Administration.

On Friday aftertoon at , local business leaders and elected officials met with SHA officials to discuss what projects could be started to make Frederick Road through downtown Catonsville more pedestrian-friendly. Since Frederick Road is a state road, most projects would have to be done through SHA, officials said.

The meeting was organized by the economic development committee for the .

Here are five ideas that were discussed at the meeting and where they stand:

1. Adding more pedestrian crosswalks: SHA officials said the only funding for Main Street improvements are funding sources that make ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements and improve pedestrian safety. An example of a more visible crosswalk is outside the Catonsville Library.

2. Expanded sidewalks for outdoor seating for restaurants: The idea has been proposed by local real estate agents Kirby Spencer and George Brookhart and was discussed at the meeting, but any expansion of sidewalks for outdoor seating would also involve partnerships with the county and local business leaders.

3. Improved signage reminding motorists of pedestrian and bicycle traffic:  Some of these improvements will occur as part of the county's long-term for the area.

4. Having parking kiosks instead of meters: Business leaders and Councilman Tom Quirk are starting to look into the idea of replacing parking meters with kiosks similar to what is available in Baltimore City and Towson. SHA officials said the changes in parking would just need approval on a state road, but it's typically not an issue.

5. Sidewalk improvements: SHA officials shared maps that outlined sidewalk improvements that are from South Rolling Road east to the Baltimore Beltway.

Catonsville resident Jim Himel said the group hopes to prioritize what can be done with existing proposals.

"Our timing to work on this is actually good because of this existing plan," he said referring to the state highway's sidewalk upgrades, which are ongoing.

What do you think is the highest priority for downtown Frederick Road?

Danielle Koontz February 04, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Walkability is essential. The more pedestrian friendly our downtown is more draw it will have to visitors. With continued upgrades to store fronts, events such as the Friday concert series and 2! farmers markets Catonsville will continue to thrive. I love the idea of outside seating. I often opt for Dusenberg's because of their few outside tables. It would be great to revamp Frederick road for one-sided/head-in parking and expand the sidewalks for outside seating. I also love the UK crosswalk saying "don't block the box". We could adopt cross "boxes" allowing free movement within the intersection during the cross-walk signal. The entire "box" would be painted with a cross-hatch design allowing for greater pedestrian visibility easier flow.
Ed Riesner February 04, 2012 at 12:44 PM
As a lifelong resident of Catonsville I truly want Catonsville to thrive. A great part of living here has always been easy access to highways, airports, proximity to commercial centers, etc. In recent years additions to Catonsville Village has brought excessive traffic to Frederick Rd. making my daily commute to and from work tedious. Traffic control is a real problem and the sad truth is that nothing can be done to alleviate the problem. The only option is to stop putting new buildings in the village. We need to remember that the Chamber of Commerce is not the only person in Catonsville. The Village exists for us not us for the Village
Richard Hiteshew February 04, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Ed, Sorry, but the increased traffic is not caused by newbuildings in Catonsville. The massive traffic at certains times is because of commuters from Randallstown, Ellicott City, Columbia and all points Northwest, including far away Sykesville. For proof, just go to RT. 40 and Rolling Rd., or N. Rolling Rd. near Security Square Mall, Ellict City Main Street at around 8:00am and you can see the waves of cars heading our way. If we knocked down every building in Catonsville, the traffic would probably increase. The controlling word here is "commuters", and there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it.
charlie Murphy February 04, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Many communities that "welcome" pedestrian traffic thrive. Parked cars do not purchase goods, people do. If parking along Frederick rd. is completely eliminated and adequate parking lots established our sidewalks will come alive. Turning parking lanes into bike lanes will increase pedestrian traffic, reduce the volume of vehicular traffic, lessen the need for parking and reduce speeds. I ask store owners: would you rather people walking in front of your store or a parked car. Frederick road needs to be the road to Catonsville, NOT through Catonsville. Charlie Murphy
Jean February 04, 2012 at 04:53 PM
"New buildings" could mean anything from commercial sites to residential developments. I would saw that the increase in residential development in the past 20 yrs in Catonsville has caused a traffic influx. That being said, I agree that commuters (both local and beyond) cause this glut of traffic problems. There are ways, of course, to help alleviate these problems - in making our community roads more pedestrian and biking friendly, we reduce and narrow travel lanes in order to push traffic that should be on the highway actually on to the highway. (Widening some of them, as proposed in the plan linked in #3 above, only serves to help traffic aggression.) Traffic calming measures (speed bumps, traffic collars etc) should be used without the excuse of emergency vehicle access - ask Del Malone about this. Building more crosswalks like the one in front of the library would help with ped access and would make the crosswalks more visible to drivers, and again, narrows the road slightly (if only by perception) making community roads commuter unfriendly and pushing those cars to the highways were they belong.
Ed Riesner February 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Bingo! Charlie you hit it on the head. TO Catonsville not THROUGH Catonsville
Linda Sanders February 04, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Growing up in Catonsville meant going to the Alpha Theater, Woolworth's, Moss's Drug Store (both locations -- learning to smoke behind the new one), banks, 3 supermarkets (A & P, Food Fair, Acme) within a few blocks, and so on. Also a few bars generally regarded to be patronized by n'er do wells but probably visited by many pillars of the community as well. It was busy, bustling, and full of things to do. Then, things went right down hill. No more Herald Argus, no more theater, NO supermarket, etc. Recently I lived in Catonsville for two years and was so happy to see the positive changes, updates, new stores, etc. It isn't stores that bring traffic problems, it's parking and use of Frederick Road as a freeway bypass. Nothing would be more pleasant than a few outdoor eating venues, wider sidewalks and off-street parking. Atwater's arrived after I left, much to my dismay -- the molasses cookies at the Belvedere store are worth the 10 pounds they added! Don't give up on Catonsville, work on upgrading, do things privately without all the government help (when possible). Engage the community. And get a good, upscale supermarket!
Bob Cross February 07, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I concur that the traffic problems on Frederick Rd are commuter based, but I don't see a solution short of putting up toll booths and charging $$ per car, or installing many more traffic lights making travel slower and therefor more inconvient. My own personal contribution is to always drive the posted speed limit. It is amazing how quickly cars will stack up behind you. If everyone did this it would slow down the flow of traffic. As for the village, we love to walk down and see what is going on or to get a treat. And anticipate seeing any additions.


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