Thursday, March 24, 2011

MARC Camden Line:Fail

This is one of the three MARC Stops on the Camden Line that will be discussed. This is the Dorsey Station which serves as the border between Howard and Anne Arundel Counties. It's also the southern terminus of the localized Orange Line I have proposed. While taking this photography excursion with Gerry and Peter I learned something very interesting;
The Camden Line Tracks are owned by the CSX while the Penn Line Tracks are owned by Amrak. CSX is not very conducive to Passenger so it dawned on me that modern TOD would shy away from this line. Is that the only reason the Camden Line is a Fail? Nope! There are more sinister reasons behind the scenes.First lets start at the Dorsey Station at the eastern edge of Howard County along Route 100. Route 100 is barely ten years old. Therefore, the MARC Station is also the newest along this stretch of the Camden Line if not the newest altogether. I had thought previously that discussing the Stations south of Dorsey wouldn't be relevant to this blog. My horizons have broadened and I have realized that what goes on outside of the City deeply effects what does or does not go on inside the City.
The Dorsey MARC, being as new as it is is also the most TOD ready. I am very much aware that the picture above is the antithesis of TOD. Buildings should be tall and parking should be under ground or at the very least, a monster parking garage should be built to free up these surface spaces for high density development. Speaking of garages, they have been the marker of "progress" for TOD in the region. The garages are built and that's supposed to make us think that "everything else" is coming soon. How long have the garages for Metro Centre at Owings Mills been up? And where's all the development that was supposed to follow? I don't know either.One last thing about the Dorsey Station, it's a maze to find Route 1. It's very easy to access Route 100 suggesting that in order to ride the MARC from the Dorsey Station, you must own a car and park it there. You can access Route 1 where there's a lot of dense development already built or is in the works. I would suggest blending the MARC Station with this new development for maximum walk-ability.
Next we come to Jessup's idea of a MARC Station. Dorsey didn't illustrate that the Camden Line is meant much more for Freight than passengers. Well here were in Jessup, also at the Howard/ Anne Arundel Border.The land uses here are very much of an Industrial nature. Then again, we're in the middle of the Howard County and State of Maryland Prison District. TOD here would be a hard sell. Then again, people complain about the lack of affordable housing in Howard County. Howard County Residents don't like affordable housing, they like the concept but they always want it somewhere else.Well, the Jessup MARC Station could be redeveloped as an affordable housing haven with easy access to the MARC line and therefore the DC Metro and what ever Baltimore passes as a Rail Tansit System.This location is out of the way enough to satisfy even the most arrogant Howard County McMansion Owner. As for Residents? Beggers can't be choosers and this will be an answer to the question of where people will be relocated to when I talk about tearing Section 8 and Public Housing Developments.Our last stop is the Savage MARC Station where there is the most potential out of pretty much any MARC Station in the entire region. This area is booming but the MARC Station suggests otherwise. Why? Because all the development that has recently come up about a mile away is no way shape or form integrated into the MARC Station.I will give Savage some credit; it seems more passenger oriented than Jessup and there are TOD Plans in the works. I figured with the coverage this area has gotten that a garage would have been built to make create the illusion that more construction is on the way. There is no garage.
Here Savage is perhaps the biggest failure of them all; BRAC, just beyond those elevated road signs in the distance lies jobs for thousands and thousands more to come. With BRAC, in addition to more Military Personnel coming to the Maryland Area, the number of Defense Contractor Jobs is staggering.We drove over to "National Business Parkway" and saw our State's Future. The question is; how do they from the MARC Station to their Office Buildings? They can't. Here's where the relevance of Baltimore City comes into play; Baltimore City is the only Jurisdiction in the area that can support BRAC without creating additional sprawl because the infrastructure is already there.
The result of BRAC related Business? Additional sprawl. Roads all around Fort Meade are being widened as the dependence on one's car appears to the order of the day for the BRAC boom. Baltimore City, built for a population of 970,000 will most likely hover at 640,000 while its suburbs will be forced to deal with the bottle neck of traffic and over crowding of Schools all because the BRAC Mega Office Park wasn't built near the MARC Station where Personnel could have found more bang for their buck in the City. FAIL. (I'm aware that said development can't located near mass transit for Security Reasons which is something that needs to be addressed)

1 comment:

SeanJ said...

The MARC is strictly a commuter line, meaning no weekend service and limited service during mornings and afternoons. Is that enough to inspire TOD? Maybe it is, since people SHOULD like to live closer to an easy way to get to work in DC or Baltimore. They should also be able to get coffee or a bite to eat within steps of a train platform in the morning or afternoon. But until the MTA fully embraces MARC the same way that New Jersey embraces their NYC trains, which run all day all week, I don't see the incentive to build TOD around MARC stations.