Baltimore County, MD

 On numerous occasions, Transportation Resource Group, Inc. (TRG) has had the opportunity to champion responsible growth in rural areas by supporting the development and use of context sensitive design. As a primary author of the "Rural Roads Study - Recommended Design Standards and Policies for Rural Baltimore County Roads," published in November, 2005, TRG was able to promote rural road standards aimed at preserving the rural character of Baltimore County roads outside the urban-rural demarcation line (URDL). The study was commissioned by the Valleys Planning Council (VPC), an acclaimed land use planning organization headquartered in Towson, Maryland.

The study points to current federal and state transportation guidance documents that encourage the use of "context-sensitive" design, especially in scenic or historic areas to minimize the adverse impacts of expanding road networks on surrounding communities. The study recommendations center on maintaining existing dimensions of rural county roads and bridges as well as the hills and curves that make them scenic routes for a variety of users. The goal is to maintain the rural character of the roadways, which will often not make them the most efficient commuter routes. While commuters are entitled to use the rural roadways, they should expect a slower pace that accommodates farm equipment, frequent turns by residents entering and exiting driveways, as well as shared use by cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians.

TRG and the Valleys Planning Council reviewed drafts of the study and recommendations with MDSHA and Baltimore County officials throughout the process and plan to work with community groups, elected officials and county agencies to adopt and implement new rural road standards in the near future.