Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reisterstown Station: We Were Promised TOD!

It's true, we really were promised TOD at the Reisterstown Station Metro Stop. This promise is as old as the Green Line Metro Rail. Just like in DC, the 1980s was filled the transit talk and a small amount of action. In DC there was plenty of action as the bulk of its Metro was built then with funding for expansion all but locked in. In Baltimore there was talk but just a tad of action especially when compared to that of DC. It's true that at Reisterstown Station we were promised TOD but weren't we also promised transit?
In the planning stages of Baltimore's 1980's transit network, we were shown schematics of a Reisterstown Station that had been built out with high rise mixed use development that resembles modern day TOD. With said schematics however, there was a fully funded and built
transit system in Baltimore where pretty much all parts of the City were near a stop. Obviously 25-30 years later there's still a long way to go.
In order to dissect what halted the breaks on a true transit network in Baltimore we must ask ourselves what comes first, TOD or transit? It's like the age old arguement of what comes first; the Chicken or the Egg? It's my opinion that the two must go hand and hand in order for each component to be successful. TOD is too dense to rely solely on cars and transit stops need high density around their stops to keep a strong ridership base.
I believe that transit must come first, If TOD is built first it will cause further congestion on roads and knowing how the State of Maryland works, they will do road expansion projects before funding transit lines. If you look at what's slated to be TOD, the best sites are located where transit lines already are. Westport, State Center, Penn Station, West Baltimore MARC, Timonium, Bayview, Lexington Market, and the titular Reisterstown Station.
Although these stops have transit already there, the TOD planned for them has been shelved for the most part, why? Well, I would say because the existing transit network doesn't really connect to itself and there are many parts of both the City and County that have no transit to speak of. Now what does this have to do with TOD? Everything, TOD is only a good sell if the transit it's near connects to lots of places. If you live in Westport you're near the Light Rail Line, but if you also work in White Marsh you currently can't take advantage of the transit stop you're just seconds away from. The same dilemma presents itslelf to some who works in Charles Center where the Green Line is but lives in Towson where there is currently no transit line.
Now is this why the TOD promised for Reisterstown never came to fruition? That I don't know, but I do know one way to find out. Lets call it an experiment of building transit lines such as the Red Line and Yellow Line in full, localizing the two MARC Lines thus creating the Orange and Purple Lines, and expanding the Green Line from Hopkins thru Northeast Baltimore, White Marsh ending at Martin State Airport. Sound like a lot? Well it is, it's called playing catch up and keeping the promises made in the 1980s by going green and ridding people of the need for cars and unclogging our highways without spending Billions expanding them.
Will this make Reisterstown Station's TOD a reality? Nobody knows for certain, we also don't know if any of the other sites slated for TOD on lines that are built or have yet to be built will be a reality if all lines are built but one thing I'm almost positive of; If no transit lines are built and if Baltimore allows its transit to further lose its vitality, TOD will never come to fruition.

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