Saturday, April 9, 2016

Resurrecting the Red Line I: What Works

When the plug was pulled on the Red Line I was furious to say the least. More than a decade of planning, studies, and obtaining funds was flushed down the drain by one Governor in true dictator fashion. When something like strikes a blow to Baltimore, the City must dust itself off and look towards the future. And what is that future? One where leadership cares about rail transit in Baltimore and surrounding suburbs, one that contains the resurrected Red Line.
Now I will admit that the design and route for the Red Line was not perfect, in fact I've made that statement here on this blog one more than once. However, there were parts of the plan that I think were correctly planned and I think should be resurrected and built. Other parts we should go back to the drawing board and fund and build when they're better. Right now I will focus on what should be funded and built now and that is the Red Line in West Baltimore, the East Baltimore MARC Station, and the localization of both MARC lines to create the Purple and Orange Lines.
So lets get started. West Baltimore is in dire need of better transit among other things. I also believe that this portion of the Red Line doesn't need much tweaking. The western Red Line will start at the end of Security Boulevard with stops serving the Medicare/Medicaid Offices, Security Square Mall, and the Social Security Complex. It will then dip down to Cooks Lane where it will serve the I-70 park & ride before traveling along Edmondson Avenue serving the new Uplands Community, Edmondson Village before traveling along Franklin St. to serve the Rosemont Community. The only difference between this and the agreed upon Red Line that was axed is the Edmondson Avenue and Franklin St. sections will now be tunneled. I know this will cost more but as I've said before taking the cheap alternative will cost ridership and speed.
The next stop will be the most important for this western portion of the Red Line. This is of course the West Baltimore MARC Station (pictured above) and the localized Purple Line. In the mean time, this will be the only connection to other rail transit lines for this Red Line Stub. Going northbound, this can and will connect West Baltimore to Penn Station(pictured below), East Baltimore, Martin State Airport, Edgewood and Perryville. Southbound, this can go to Halethorpe (relocated stop to cross with MARC Camden Line), BWI, Odenton, Bowie, Seabrook, New Carrollton, and fianlly Union Station in DC. With all of this now connected to the West Baltimore Red Line Stub, the number of job opportunities for West Baltimore Residents with personal transportation has increased many times over.
Now we come to Baltimore's Purple Line which will share track with the MARC Penn Line. With more localized stops, in addition to the above MARC Stops, the West Baltimore Red Line will have access to proposed northbound stops at Sandtown, Upton(connect to Green Line), Orangeville, Colgate, Rosedale, Rossville, Mddlesex, and Middle River. Additional southbound stops include St. Agnes Hospital, Arbutus, and Severn.
The MARC Camden Line will be localized as well and will be billed as the Orange Line. The orange Line will be accessible by getting on the Purple Line from the Red Line via the newly located Halepthorpe Stop that allows the two lines to cross. This will allow West Baltimore to access Elkridge, Hanover, Jessup, Savage, and Laurel via the Orange Line going south. Northbound will allow for Camden Yards, Pigtown, Morrell Park, and Lansdowne but I doubt that West Baltimore Residents will go all the way to Halethorpe just to go back into the City.
The West Baltimore Red Line will have two more stops east of the West Baltimore MARC Station (pictured above) both running on track space from the Road to Nowhere which should hopefully allow for redevelopment of the entire corridor. First will be for the Franklin Square and Harlem Park Communities. Both Communities will benefit from large redevelopment efforts that being on the West Baltimore Red Line will surely bring. The final stop for the West Baltimore Red Line will be just before the intersection of MLK Boulevard at the Poppleton and Heritage Crossing Communities where the Green Line stop at State Center and Light Rail (Blue Line) at Cultural Center are each just a few blocks away.
By only building the West Baltimore portion of the Red Line at this time and localizing the MARC Lines, Baltimore can expand its Rail Transit connect-ability may times over without having to deal with the currently flawed parts of the Downtown and southeastern portions. But fear not, those will get funded and built after going back to the drawing board of course. For now, lets focus on What works.

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