Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dismantling the JFX II: Northbound

When dismantling the southbound lanes of the JFX, it more or less opens the back doors of Downtown and Mount Vernon and puts them on ground level to generate more foot traffic. When dismantling the northbound lanes, we uncover a piece of the City that has been forgotten due to the construction of the JFX. Forgetting this part of the City was deliberate and when traveling down these old roads, it's apparent. The area I'm referring to, is the Fallsway.

The Fallsway, besides being my route for northbound traffic once the JFX is dismantled, served as a two way means to get to and from Downtown from the northern stretches of the City and County. It also covered up the namesake Jones Falls so that Downtown and East Baltimore may connect to one another. Access to Oldtown Mall, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and all of East Baltimore now had easy access to Downtown and Mount Vernon.

At the time the Eisenhower interstate bill was being funded, East Baltimore had begun decaying quickly and shareholders didn't want that blight to come to Downtown or Mount Vernon. Since an expressway was supposed to cut through Downtown and then go through Fells Point and Canton via Fleet St. and Boston St. respectively, the path in between Downtown and East Baltimore was the best choice to act as a Boundary between the two. Once the JFX opened, it worked like a charm.

During the early days of the JFX, Downtown began its renaissance with Charles Center and eventually the Inner Harbor while East Baltimore continued its decay. The Fallsway began to like the Baltimore of yesteryear as redevelopment quickly moved Downtown and in East Baltimore industrial decay made way for parking lots and residential decay made way for public housing high rises and low rises while Oldtown Mall continued its dissent to what we say today.

What we see today is a Fallsway that's all but forgotten. Not only has the Fallsway itself been forgotten but its cross streets have too. Hillen St.,? Gay St.,? Holiday St.? These were once important intersections connecting Downtown to East Baltimore that the JFX and the Orleans St, viaduct have made impossible to find let alone use.

Other parts of East Baltimore have seen a renaissance. The area around Johns Hopkins Hospital has become a hot bed for reinvestment and redevelopment with new homes, offices, labs, and eventually retail, and a hotel. In addition, there has also been great care taken to rehab existing row homes that are in good enough condition to warrant it. Currently, the goal is to connect the synergies between Downtown and Hopkins and the Fallsway has to play a big role in doing so.

As I have mentioned, this posts is dedicated to dismantling the JFX so lets go ahead and do so. My last post discussed an alignment for the southbound lanes primarily using Guilford Avenue and a then a small part of the former JFX to evenly connect it with President St. So lets talk about the northbound alignment for when the JFX is dismantled.

That alignment will be the Fallsway. In fact, not much will have to change about the Fallsway's layout. During most its alignment, the road is wide enough, the two way traffic will have to be converted to one way northbound lanes. There are on ramps and off ramps to and from the JFX which narrow the Fallsway for a block or two but part of the dismantling of the JFX will see those ramps demolished allowing for the Fallsway to be widened.

Now just like that, these forgotten roads and intersections that were severed by the JFX will reconnect Downtown and Mount Vernon to East Baltimore. Holiday St., Hillen St., and Gay St. will now be major player in moving traffic northeast via East Baltimore. There are more in depth posts on how this will be done in the future. Also streets like Eager St. and Monument St. will no longer stop and start up again on either side of the soon to be dismantled JFX. They will simply cross into East Baltimore without any interruptions.

The biggest change to the Fallsway will take place at its northern end. Currently just above Chase St. and curves west crossing the JFX and joining Guilford Avenue at its intersection with Biddle St. Once the JFX is dismantled, The Fallsway will will remain east of the JFX all the way to Preston St. where it will empty onto the JFX where the highway will continue its normal operations. Another addition above Preston St. will be a ramp to Greenmount Avenue via the current alignment of Belvidere St. This will help local not have to get on the highway and in turn keep the traffic more regional.

Now that the JFX has been completely dismantled, we can begin working on redeveloping and reinvesting in the part of East Baltimore between Downtown and Hopkins. There are many of dead zones that could expand Downtown and make Oldtown Mall a sought after destination. First we will have to look into how other intersections and roads make connections as I have been eluding to throughout this post. Stay Tuned! More in depth looks into those intersections are coming soon.  


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