Burtonsville in Crisis:
Solutions for Revitalization
2.  The Crisis

Realignment of Route 29 Creates Crisis

Today, Burtonsville is dying.  The many years of anti-growth policies and lobbying efforts to keep the status quo as well as the realignment of Route 29 have caused this crisis.  With no new residential housing allowed in the area, it was only a matter of time before this bad policy would eventually cause a full-blown crisis. 

When the realignment of the Route 29 bypass was built, the crisis hit.  The effects of removing 50,000 cars per day from this small town resulted in economic disaster.  There were no longer enough people to support the commercial zones.  Many of the people that once stopped and shopped in Burtonsville have moved up the road to Maple Lawn, located four miles to the North off Route 29.  This area was designated to be the modern gateway into Howard County.  It had everything that Burtonsville lacked, including over 1,000 units of high-density, residential development to support the new commercial zones.  Columbia, which is only five miles further North, has a successful, high-end, destination mall.  So why would anyone need to stop in Burtonsville? 

The traffic patterns, as well as the Maple Lawn development to the North, have changed Burtonsville forever.  When the State mandated the Route 29 bypass and redirected 50,000 cars per day to speed past the town, a full-scale economic crisis resulted.  Such a major redirection of the traffic flow should have been predictable.  The town started losing one business after another.  Burtonsville was now dying.  It has no residential core to support the overbuilt commercial areas.  There are not enough people.

The major draw for Burtonsville today is still only one Giant Food grocery store.  The Amish store, which once stood on this site and also a major draw, is gone.  Even the new office buildings are empty.  Those that had once driven through its main street, Old Columbia Pike now known as Route 29A, have quickly forgotten Burtonsville.  They are not coming back.

The realignment of the Route 29 bypass exposed the lack of residential development for all to see.  Burtonsville had been almost totally dependent on the large North-South traffic flow from Route 29.  When this source evaporated, it created a crisis situation for the entire town, which the activists and planners both refuse to address or resolve.  The Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center has become a blight for all to see, with a 70% vacancy rate.  Even the new shopping center across the street struggles to attract tenants and things are only getting worse.

Many of the local merchants, including those that own restaurants, are negatively affected by the loss of traffic that no longer flows through Burtonsville.  After the realignment of the Route 29 bypass, there are simply not enough people to support the disproportionately large commercial area.  This is a serious problem.  The town needs a residential core.
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