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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(2/2018) Everyone hates sitting in traffic! If you've driven on US 15 through the City of Frederick during rush hour, you have probably experienced backups and delays. This section of US 15 is one of the most congested in the state of Maryland with all the interchanges failing during both morning and afternoon peak hours.

Most of the roads that need improvement to address congestion and capacity issues are state and federal highways rather than county or municipal roadways. These interstates and primary highways are part of the federal highway system and are managed by state highway. It is our job as local leaders to advocate to our state and federal partners for needed road improvements.

Every year, the County submits a list of its top priority transportation projects to the State Secretary of Transportation so these state and federal projects can be funded in the state transportation budget.

This year, we are seeking construction funding to widen US 15 from I-70 to MD 26 as our top construction priority so we can address traffic congestion, improve access to jobs, and help local residents get around town. Our municipal leaders and delegation members agree. This project has already gone through preliminary planning and is part way through design and engineering.

Other priorities include seeking design and engineering funding to widen MD 85 from the bridge over Ballenger Creek to Guilford Drive; and seeking project planning to widen MD 194 from MD 26 to Walkersville High School. These projects will address safety and capacity issues.

The list of highway and transit projects is long. Municipal mayors in Thurmont and Emmitsburg are lobbying for more rural transit and shuttle service. There is also a growing demand for Paratransit services to take seniors to medical appointments. The state has not increased funding for this service for over 15 years!

A draft of the Annual Transportation Priorities Review, including the full list of projects, can be found online at

Now, is the time for you to weigh in. What major road or transit projects do you think are needed most? I am holding a Transportation Town Hall on Thursday, February 8th, to hear your ideas and opinions before finalizing the County’s Transportation Priorities. You can attend at Winchester Hall at 7 p.m. or watch and comment live on YouTube at You can also ask your questions through my Facebook page, @JanGardnerExec.

Democracy in Action!

Most people agree that good government depends on open and transparent government and good public processes. As a person who first got involved in county government as a citizen participating in the public process, I have always placed a high value on the ability of citizens to participate and make a difference.

I have and will continue to strongly voice opposition to the work of government happening in secret meetings behind closed doors. Citizens can count on me to insist on good public processes. I have engaged citizens in every major initiative I have introduced and have citizen steering committees with a diversity of stakeholders to shape balanced and forward moving public policy. These efforts have delivered results.

To say the least, I was profoundly disappointed when four members of the County Council voted to table two bills I initiated related to responsible growth management. These bills were introduced in August of 2017, have been subject to workshops, and deserve an opportunity for public hearing so the citizens and stakeholders of the county can weigh in.

How we grow and where we grow as a community is important to everyone who lives here. Citizens are rightfully concerned about congested roads, overcrowded schools, and the bad development deals approved by the prior administration. These deals have shifted a significant infrastructure and cost burden to existing residents. I am working hard to address these complex issues and deal with the hand we have been dealt.

Shutting citizens out of the public debate is simply wrong. Our constitution begins with the words "we the people" because our government was shaped to function best when all of us are represented. While developers are stakeholders and should have a seat at the table, so should residents who care about the impacts of residential growth on our schools, transportation system, the environment, and our quality of life.

Citizens are right to be concerned when council members introduce bills written by and for the building industry. Should any industry write their own rules? Will this protect the best interest and the public good?

I am convinced that we can do better. We can compromise and build consensus but this can only happen through a public process that creates a level playing field for all stakeholders and interests to participate. That is what a good public process accomplishes.

Citizens should urge council members who voted to shut them out of the public process to reconsider my bills and let public hearings proceed before my bills die from lack of action within 90 days. After hearing from all interested citizens and stakeholders, consensus and compromise can be shaped. I encourage citizens to ask Council Members Chmelik, Otis, Delauter and Shreve to let your voices be heard.

Livable Frederick Open Houses

Livable Frederick is a new and innovative approach to planning for the future. This plan starts with a shared community vision and then looks at how we can best achieve it. For the first time, the county was able to utilize computer modeling to project the outcome of the choices we make now into the future. We evaluated four growth models and took the best choices from each option to develop a plan that will accommodate people, more jobs so more people can work without leaving the county, and will preserve and protect our agricultural areas, our rich history, and maintain our rural and small town quality of life.

The County is hosting five outreach meetings to gather community input and to explain Livable Frederick. The first was held in Brunswick last week. I encourage you to attend one of the four upcoming outreach meetings so you can help to shape the future of Frederick County. These meetings are planned for Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at Catoctin High School.

Livable Frederick is a re-set, a new beginning. Together, we can develop a plan to shape our future, grow better, and preserve our high quality of life and the things we value and love about Frederick County.

Let your voice be heard!

Read other articles from Frederick County Government Officials