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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Northeast City/County Transit: Fail

Mandatory Heavy Rail? $1 Billion Plus I-95 Toll Lane Expansion?, Lack of Quality Stops? It's no wonder expanding the Green Line from Hopkins to Morgan is dead on arrival let alone further expansions into Parkville, Fullerton, White Marsh, and Martin State Airport/MiddleRiver. These extensions, whether or not they will ever come to fruition are herby dubbed; FAIL!
The 1986 Subway Master Plan included a Northwest to Northeast Line (The Green Line) but they decided to halt further building once the Line hit Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was during that time that the Light Rail became a cost effective and therefore popular method of Rail Transit. Light Rail allows for surface level transit (which adds to traffic congestion by the way) thus killing tuneled Transit as we know it. I'm a friend of tuneled transit and I can't seem to accept the death of a good friend so I will do all it takes to revive it.
Light Rail can be tunneled but its costs are almost as high as Heavy Rail which is why the Red Line has almost no tunnels. With the Green Line, Light Rail is not an option. The Green Line is already built from Owings Mills to Johns Hopkins Hospital as a Heavy Rail Line, therefore any and all extensions must be Heavy Rail as well. Heavy Rail can't be surface level because crossing the tracks will involve crossing an electrified strip that will kill you instantly. If Heavy Rail were at surface level, it would have to be in the middle of an undeveloped swath of land which doesn't make for good transit.
Speaking of bad Transit, the 2002 Baltimore Regional Rail Plan does have a full extension of the Green Line including Morgan State, Northeast Baltimore City, Parkville, Fullerton, White Marsh, and Martin State Airport. What's so bad about that? Well there's nothing wrong with the aforementioned County Stops but noticed that from Morgan State University to the County I call it "Northeast Baltimore City" rather than name of City Neighborhoods that the Green Line will stop in.That's because it bypasses City Neighborhoods and travels along Hillen Road/Perring Parkway. Perring Parkway along this section of the City is home to Mount Pleasant Park, a vast Park with an 18 Hole Golf Course. That is what seperates North Baltimore from Northeast Baltimore.The Stops here will require that riders (if any) will have to park their cars somewhere because this area has no walkability. Mount Pleasant Park is a City Gem so TOD here will be out of the question therefore the Green Line will have to be tweaked to maximize ridership.
How should the Line be tweaked?Well, I'm glad you asked because I have come up with such a plan that will maximize ridership between Morgan State University and the County Line thereby giving Northeast Baltimore its rightful place in Baltimore's Rail Transit Network. After the Morgan State/Northwood Plaza Shopping Center Stop, it will turn east onto Argonne Drive meeting Harford Road. When Harford Road meets Coldspring Lane/Moravia Road it will be a Lauraville Stop.Still traveling up Harford Road, there will be a Hamilton Stop at its intersection with Hamilton Avenue. The Line will once agian turn east onto Hamilton Avenue, which becomes Frankford Avenue east of Walther Avenue. At Belair Road, there will be a Waltherson Stop.
Traveling north along Belair Road there will be an Overlea Stop at the City/County Line. Now I admit that density is not the highest in these Neighborhoods but it's higher than Mount Pleasant Park. Belair Road does have a lot of vacant Car Dealerships which could make for a small amount of TOD.
For the County Stops, the Line will continue along Belair Road until it meets White Marsh Boulevard which it will travel along until it ends in Middle River. The White Marsh Mall area still has undevloped land for TOD and the Mall itself can have its surface lots developed for additional TOD and the Mall could have Offices and/or Apartments directly above it.
Now, none of this will happen in the near future. It has been made very clear that the State wants the northeast City/County Region to be dependent on cars. The State has been in this mind set in the DC Area as well rather than build the Purple Line, they built the ICC and in Baltimore instead of extending the Green Line they're extending I-95 by adding Toll Lanes, and redoing its interchanges with I-895 and I-695. Both DC's Purple Line and the extension of Baltimore's Green Line could have been funded and paid for by diverting the funds from the ICC and the I-95 Toll Lanes and simply using to fund the Transit Lines that if done right will relieve conestion on the existing street infrastructure and not cause so much pollution from the cars during and after construction because, they will be riding Rail Transit instead. It almost seems too easy.
Now, The State has taken a stance against funding Hevy Rail. What they don't understand is that they're alotting sums of money equal to Heavy Rail by building more roads. That statement alone warrants me calling the Northeast City/County Transit a FAIL!

2 comments:

BC Planning said...

Good post, I agree that the proposed Green line should head up Harford Road after the Morgan St. stop.

I would love to see the Green line built out one day but planning for that seems decades away.

Douglas A. Willinger said...

We have the money for all of this, if only if not wasted on the pentagon bloat and the immorral 'drug war' of which courts devote some 2/3rd of their time upon. I just do NOT buy that standard argument and see it as a diversion from the above borader picture.

But how neccessary was the I-95 express lanes project?