Thursday, September 25, 2008

West Baltimore MARC Redvelopment

This one's a no brainer, residents, commuters, planners, and elected officials all agree that the West Baltimore MARC Station is a major commuter route and will continue to be so in the coming years with projected BRAC growth and the continuation of soaring gas prices. MARC ridership has increased dramatically and the TOD near stations will only make this trend continue.The West Baltimore MARC Station needs to be redeveloped whether the red line is built or not and/or whether the purple lune shares tracks with the line in question. The afore mentioned lines will increase the status of this station as a multi modal hub but the MTA and City Officials must proceed no matter how localized transit unfolds or doesn't. Equally important if not more important is the addition of an East Baltimore MARC Station. The speculated locations are either Bayview or Orangeville. I prefer Orangeville, Bayview has enough development coming its way already and Orangeville has been aching for TOD.

Now it's no secret that the West Baltimore MARC Station is in a bad part of town. The neighborhoods surrounding it Mosher, Midtown Edmondson and Penrose/Fayette St. are in state of disrepair. Decades of disinvestment have taken their toll. In addition to the residential urban decay there's an idustrial wasteland southwest of the station. This general area was where I-70 was to be extended to meet I-95 but never came to fruition. It was also at this point that I-70 would meet its Downtown spur known at the time as I-170. I-170 was built and when I-70 was killed at Cooks Lane I-170 was rebranded as Route 40 which was Franklin and Mulberry Streets. Locals call this highway "the road to no where" the planners of the West Baltimore MARC redevelopment plan knew this and will call the revitalized highway "the road to some where."

This is the only part of the plan that I take issue with. What ever's done with this stretch of highway should be shelved until the red line's a sure thing. When that time comes (hopefully sooner rather than later) here's what I think needs to be done. The highway should be demolished and all vehicular traffic should be rerouted to Franklin and Mulberry Streets. The highway is underground and will serve as a great tunnel for that stretch of the red line. Above ground, the land above the highway will be brought back to street level and high density TOD will occupy it. It will spur the redevelopment of the highly distressed Franklin Square and Harlem Park neighborhoods.Well that's all for this one, short and sweet. It's much easier to publish posts quicker when you actually agree with what people are doing.

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