Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Make wy for Gay St. II: Harford Avenue

In my previous post regarding the reopening of Gay St between Orleans St. and Broadway, I hinted that Harford Avenue and its Hillen and Esnor St. counterparts were in for a change as well. If you were under that impression and felt short changed at the end of my last post, you're in luck. I will describe in detail my plan to overhaul Harford Avenue and get more vehicular traffic going through that part of town thus allowing for redevelopment and population growth.
For the sake of this post lets say that Harford Avenue begins at the JFX. It continues on as Pleasant St. going westbound through Downtown or as Holiday St. going southbound and ending at Pratt St. by the Harbor. On the other side of the JFX, Harford Avenue is known as Hillen St. Hillen St. is currently a one way St. that only goes southbound. The first change I would make is to change the name from Hillen St. to Harford Avenue in order to streamline the road.
I would also like to point out that for a City Street Harford Avenue and its Hillen St. and Esnor St. alter egos are VERY wide considering they spend most of their existence as one way streets whether it be north or south. Given that the road is very wide, my proposal to make it a two way street from the Fallsway to North Avenue isn't that far fetched.

Adding northbound traffic to Hillen St./Harford Avenue will play a key role after the demolition of the JFX and the redevelopment of the Edison properties, now serving as surface level parking. I would also like to point out that Esnor St. is what Gay St. turns into at Orleans St. rather than going straight through Oldtown Mall. As I have stated in my previous post, Gay St. will reopen to vehicular traffic as a one way northbound which will make Esnor St. between Orleans St. and when it joins Hillen St. utterly and completely useless. Also Hillen St./Harford Avenue will play host to two way traffic so Esnor St. will become even more useless. When redeveloping Oldtown Mall Esnor St. can just fade into the infrastructure or become a local service road.
Harford Avenue currently exists as a two way street for a couple of blocks between Madison St. and Biddle St cutting through LaTrobe Homes. Here is where the width of the road can be of benefit. The road can be made more attractive by adding a landscaped median, bike lanes, and on street parking making the road four lanes two in each direction with the landscaped median giving way to left turn lanes when needed.
Above the Biddle St. intersection things begin to get messy. At this point Harford Avenue becomes a one way northbound street while southbound traffic uses Aisquith St. from North Avenue to Biddle St. I think this traffic pattern diverts traffic and perhaps even Residents from this part of the City. When traveling Downtown from Northeast Baltimore on Harford Road it becomes problematic not to be able to continue on Harford Avenue south of North Avenue. instead one must make a right on North Avenue and then a left on Aisquith St. for a few blocks until it meets Biddle St. and then Aisquith merges BACK onto Harford Avenue! That seems pretty stupid and unnecessary right?
Luckily there's an easy fix for this; just keep Harford Avenue as a two way street for its entire duration. The road is wide enough for it and below Biddle St. it can be narrowed to make it a seamless transition. This will make a clear cut highway free two way route from Northeast Baltimore and beyond into Downtown, something that doesn't currently exist. There have been some new homes built along here which have been beneficial but the area as a whole is still rundown with vacant boarded up row homes. I believe that this new streamlined traffic pattern will spur new investment and development in the area as it is now put back on the map.
Now that we've made way for Gay St. we must also make way for Harford Avenue and reconfigure it so it serves a through route between Downtown and the Northeast. I'm sorry that it took so long to write this post.