Sunday, June 12, 2011

Green Line Above Ground:Fail

I read a long time ago that the value of your home sky rockets if there is tunneled rail transit in the general vicinity. On the flip side I read that overhead rail transit diminishes the value of your home. For somebody who has always been in favor of tunneled transit this came as no shock to me. It also led me to further examine the portion of Baltimore's Green Line that's above ground and give it a fail grade.
The Green Line runs tunneled from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Mondawmin Mall. These tunneled stops vary in terms of ridership. A lot of this has to do with the number of vacants in the Neighborhoods they serve. For instance, Hopkins would attract more riders than say Upton simply because Upton's vacancy rate is close to 40% while Hopkins is Baltimore's largest employer.
But I digress, my goal is to discuss the above ground portion that runs from just north of Mondawmin Mall to Owings Mills. At first the above ground portion runs along Wabash Avenue, a wide thoroughfare that runs from Hilton St. to Northern Parkeway. There's a dead end stub that stems from Liberty Heights Avenue suggesting the possibility for a connection.
Wabash Avenue serves as a divider from the Middle to Upper Class Forest Park Neighborhood with low (for Baltimore) crime and well kept Dulplexes, Single Family Homes, and Row Homes and the destitute crime ridden slums of Park Heights.
The barrier between the two Neighborhoods is more than just a too wide Wabash Avenue, there are also numerous blighted industrial businesses that are out of place. Also the above ground Green Line serves as yet another barrier. For more about Wabash Avenue please read an old post of mine called "The Two Different Worlds of Wabash Avenue."
When Green Line hits the County it bypasses possible higher rider "catch" areas on Liberty Road and Reisterstown Road. Instead the line runs through the residential Sudbrook Park with a Milford Mill Road Stop and an Old Court Road Stop. More about Sudbrook Later.
When the Green Line goes outside the Beltway, it accompanies I-795 (Northwest Expressway) for a couple of miles. It does this until the Line ends at what is supposed to be Owings Mills Town Center.
Currently Owings Mills Town Center consists of nothing more than an all but shuttered Mall and Parking Garages which mark the first stage of "Metro Centre at Owings Mills" which when complete (there have already been pitfalls) promises to be a TOD haven with Retail, Residential, Office, Community College, and Library for the Owings Mills Area.
No plans to redevelop the Mall have to come fruition.
Now back to Sudbrook, remember how a plethora of unbuilt or incomplete Freeways in Baltimore line the pages of the City County's History Books? Of course you do, you're from Baltimore and part of being from Baltimore requires you to yearn for details about you City's History.
With that being said, it should come as no surprise that I-795 was supposed to continue inside the Beltway and was to end at the other side of the Northern Parkway and Wabash Avenue intersection. Now it makes sense that the Green Line would pair with I-795 and Wabash; they were supposed to be the same road!
Now would connecting the two roads give the above ground Green Line a pass grade? No, it wouldn't, in fact it would only add to the problem. My solution? A combination of relocating and tunneling the Green Line. The non relocated portion to be tunneled would run along Wabash Avenue between Mondawmin Mall and Northern Parkway. The road would be narrowed complete with streetscape enhancements and redevelopment of the blighted industrial area which will hopefully have a positive effect on Park Heights.
Now above Northern Parkway is where my "solution" gets tricky. The newly tunneled Green Line will make a sharp turn east on Northern Parkway and yet another sharp turn northwest onto Reisterstown Road. Here, the rider "catch" Neighborhoods of Glen, Fallstaff, and Reisterstown Road Plaza will bring a higher number of City Riders.
Leaving the City the relocated Milford Mill Stop will be renamed "Pikesville" which will only help with redevelopment efforts in Pikesville along Reisterstown Road. The Condo High Rises along Slade Avenue will benefit from this new stop literally at their front door.
Next, the line will continue below Reisterstown Road for a Stop at Festival at Woodholme at Mount Wilson Lane. This has the potential to be yet another untapped high rider "catch" area with Ner Israel Rabbinical College, The Villages at Woodholme, Avalon, and The Festival at Woodholme Shopping Center. The next stop will be at Reisterstown Road and Greenspring Valley Road serving the McDounough Township, numerous Car Dealerships, Shopping Centers, and the Solo Cup Factory. The Apartment Complexes that flank the area as well as the Car Dealerships and Shopping Centers have all seen better days. The Solo Cup Factory is also slated for closure. This area has the overwhelming potential to be a TOD haven.
Finally as the Line turns down Painters Mill Road, it will end where it currently does at the uninspired Owings Mills Town Centre. In order for the Green Line above to receive a pass grade, one will literally have to move the earth in order to tunnel it and relocate it to a higher rider "catch" area north of Sudbrook Park.

No comments: