Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Saint Too Many

Oh When the Saints Go Marching in.........Well they can't march traffic is backed up on St. Paul St from Penn Station all the way to the Inner Harbor. A leisurely stroll down St. Paul St on foot is often quicker than driving (I know I've done both) Luckily, this can be remedied relatively easily and the end result should make all partys happier. For now, there's one Saint Too Many.
Obviously, St. Paul St. is a traffic night mare for a variety of reasons. First, it's one of the few southbound streets leading Downtown that are utilized, people from other parts of the City don't have a better route to get Downtown,
Route 40 comes together to form Orleans street ending its Franklin Mulberry Couplet with no other intersections between St. Paul St. and the JFX,
the road splits into two wide sections around Preston Gardens which is unnecessary and creates more problems than it solves,and finally the JFX ramp onto St. Paul St.
Now how did St. Paul St. get this way? Well that's quite simple; the demise of the streetcar, the flight to the suburbs, the interstate era, the rise of the automobile, and the decentralization of jobs. All of these fads started to kick into high gear after World War II.
The Solution to St. Paul St is not so simple but I'll take a crack at it anyway. First and foremost the ramp from the JFX onto St. Paul St. should go bye bye.
North of here traffic on St. Paul St. runs smoothly. Looking from Penn Station one can see the traffic flood the road with the soul source being that ramp. It was supposed to be temporary for construction purposes yet it's still here. Lots of JFX Motorists prefer St. Paul St. to taking the JFX/President St. all the way Downtown.
Next we come to the sheer width of the road. Between Centre St. and Lexington St. St. Paul St. balloons to an alarming eight lanes of traffic. The road splits into two four lane sections one on higher ground the other on a lower slope.What separates the two? Preston Gardens. Preston Gardens is an urban oasis even in its current state, sadly very few use it.
It might have something to do with the fact that any way you cut it you have to cross at least four lanes of snarling traffic to get there.
Another reason could be the fact that Orleans St. and Saratoga St. slice the park in thirds.
Now whoever said wider is better isn't thinking in terms of urban traffic flow. The lower half of St. Paul will be eliminated.What will remain is just one lane of lower St. Paul St. aka St. Paul Pl. and that will be open only to emergency vehicles serving Mercy Hospital.
Speaking of Mercy Hospital, as it expands, its Front Door should remain on Calvert St. After all, that's where its Yellow Line Stop will be.
The rest of Lower St. Paul St. will be converted into an expanded Preston Gardens. St. Paul St. between Centre St. and Lexington St. becomes a two way street.
I believe this is because Orleans St. doesn't meet Calvert St. the Viaduct goes over it. As the JFX tear down becomes more and more of a reality I think it's time we got rid of the Orleans St. Viaduct allowing it to intersect Calvert St.
This will leave upper St. Paul St. with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane each with metered parking on the side. The northbound lanes will be converted to southbound lanes.
Between the two directions is a sidewalk median. This would be the perfect location for the southern leg of the Charles St. Trolley. The finished product of St. Paul St between Centre and Lexington Sts will be three lanes of through traffic, two lanes of metered parking, and the right of way for the Charles St. Trolley.
From University Parkway to Conway St. the entire southern leg of the Charles St. Trolley will run on St. Paul St. which is plenty wide enough to support its right of way.
Speaking of Charles St., it's undergoing major streetscape enhancements in Mount Vernon. They include brick sidewalks, additional street lighting, updated traffic signals, with count down pedestrian signals. It hasn't been repaved yet but it will be. Since the Charles St. Trolley is still a "pipeline" project City Planners most likely won't repave Charles St. with trolley tracks.The streetscape of St. Paul is looking a little tired and in need of a makeover like that of its northbound partner one block to the west. However, with St. Paul St. the Charles St. Trolley will be fresh in the mind of City Planners giving them the foresight to add Trolley Tracks when redoing St. Paul St.
Now the question is how do we get travelers to find a different way Downtown? That's something to discuss as the tearing down of the JFX becomes more of a reality because there will be a huge reconfiguring of the urban grid. St. Paul St. will benefot from this and the Charles St. Trolley, the Yellow Line, and the expansion of the Green Line. With a new St. Paul St. the Saints can march proudly because traffic will flow smoothly.

1 comment:

Michael Lantz said...

The only part of the city that is still intact.My favorite place to take a stroll when I am feeling great.