Monday, March 28, 2011

Red Line Option 4C: Fail

As much as Citizen's effected by the proposed Red Line Option 4C of all races and incomes; nothing has been done to change it. I guess the MTA has the view point that "as long as it's built, it's a victory" I'm here to tell you that viewpoint is deceivingly defeatist because they're not interested in quality just how little it costs.
That "build it out of the way" attitude will make the Red Line a failure. When something's out of the way nobody will go out of their way to get there. When building Transit, the Line and the stops they have to be in the middle of everything, all the traffic, all the attractions, all the high density housing, and as many transfer points as possible. That makes for the highest possible ridership which leads to clearer cleaner roads and the most revenue for the MTA. The icing on the cake is the contest of Artwork to hide the construction as it's built. Why would you want to hide it? If anything attention should diverted to the construction instead of away from it to gear up excitement and eventual ridership upon completion. Red Line Option 4C i dub thee; FAIL! What follows will be a section synopsis of Option 4C and why it is a complete failure.
Now lets start west and move east. We start in Woodlawn by the Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security Complex. Obviously this area is in dire need of redevelopment and hopefully the construction of the Red Line will free up some surface Parking Lots for TOD. Here's the problem; Homeland Security forbids the Stops to be at the door steps or underneath the Buildings. So, would be riders might have to walk further to a Red Line stop than they currently do to their cars or bus stops thereby failing to relieve traffic congestion in Woodlawn. Homeland Security has to lift this ban so large Government Complexes such as these will be able to conveniently access the Red Line with ease to give them incentive to leave the car at home.
Our next fiasco was actually corrected believe it or not. This one is on Cooks Lane where the original plan would be for a single tunnel. Now, with one single tunnel there will literally make for an underground traffic jam. If only one train can pass at a time, it will be faster to use your car on that stretch. The basic mission of Rail Transit is for a product that's faster than your car not slower. Luckily, someone had the presence of mind to add a second track so trains under Cooks Lane can pass each other uninterrupted.
This next obstacle is not as lucky as Cooks Lane. I'm speaking of course about Edmondson Avenue. Now before I can tell how flawed the Red Line on Edmondson Avenue will be I will have to ask you to ride the existing Light Rail on Howard St. Downtown. You're back? OK so you saw how horrific the results of ramming Light Rail down Howard St.?
Now you're aware that Edmondson Avenue is a very busy thoroughfare when passing through Edmondson Village and Uplands up to the MARC Station. Surely I'm not suggesting that the MTA is suggesting that the Red Line be rammed down Edmondson Avenue? I am, that's their plan. If you want to know the results of doing so just ride the Light Rail down Howard St. It's time the MTA stopped clinging its purse strings and actually put up the money to tunnel this portion.
On the other side of the West Baltimore MARC Station lies one of the biggest failures of all; The Road to Nowhere. Originally intended to connect to I-70 which was supposed to go through Leakin Park and connect to I-95 near Caton Avenue. Obviously I-70 ends suddenly as a Park & Ride lot at the City/County Line. The Downtown Spur, originally named I-170 has devastated West Baltimore since its 1976 opening.
The Red Line is supposed to have a stop along here. Rail Transit was Master Planned into this "Freeway" and that's what the Red Line will use. Now the Red Line and to some extent, the redevelopment of the West Baltimore MARC Station can and should be used as a catalyst to redevelop the corridor.Since the Road to Nowhere is below grade and along side the construction of the Red Line should be a development plan to guide traffic back to Franklin and Mulberry Sts. The Highway as we know it will cease to exist and new multi level development mixed use development and using the old highway as a combination of a local and open space. With that, new development can flourish throughout the devastated Neighborhoods that make up West Baltimore.
Now we head Downtown which the Red Line all but bypasses. It goes along MLK Boulevard quite possibly at grade level causing more traffic congestion and bypassing many Downtown landmarks and transfer points.
It continues along MLK Boulevard until Lombard St. where it travels tunneled along the vast expanse of behemoth Parking Garages one block north of the Inner Harbor. Its stops along here are very random and do not connect very well with all that Downtown has to offer. What's needed is a complete reworking of the Downtown Route of the Red Line. First will be a southeast "stair case" that will end at Pratt St.
This will allow for a Lexington Market Transfer Station to both existing lines, a UMB/Downtown Westside Stop, a Camden Yards/Convention Center Stop and a limited operation 1st Mariner Arena Stop used only during events. Once on Pratt St. (the City's show case), the Red Line will be surface level (it will only be service level aong Pratt St., all else will be tunneled) to "show case" Baltimore's World Class Transit Network with an Inner Harbor Stop. I know you couldn't read that last sentence without laughing sarcastically but a Man can dream right?
East of Downtown, the Red Line travels its most controverisal route (at least that's what the papers say) it will travel down President St. and turn southeast onto Fleet St. for Inner Harbor East and Fells Point Stops.
Although this area is relatively dense, an Eastern Avenue alignment would be denser and therefore would attract higher ridership. Now, we go down to Boston St. where development is sparse despite the Canton Crossing Development. Also this area would be better benefited from an Eastern Avenue Alignment. With the Red Line going along Eastern Avenue the above grade need to get to Bayview and the proposed East Baltimore MARC Station will be eliminated.
Speaking of Bayview and East Baltimore MARC, I have proposed a brand new East Baltimore Spur starting at President St. It will travel northeast accessing Washington Hill, Butchers Hill, Upper Patterson Park, Library Square, Orangeville (my preference for the MARC Station a TOD Haven) and then it will dip down to meet the Red Line at Bayview.
From there it will travel down to O'Donnell Heights which is undergoing redevelopment, Fort Holabird, Dundalk, Turners Statiion, and Sparrows Point.
Well that's my ambitious plan to take the Red Line out of the "Fail" Status. It's too important and the stakes are too high for a route that doesn't attract ridership.

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