Greektown as seen from Bayview - with parking lots in the foreground and (left-to-right) Canton Crossing, Brewers Hill, and the Crown Building on the horizon. Interstate 895 is in a gully just behind the hedge.
The rail plan's most obvious and glaring need has been corrected - to establish, in our lifetime, a rail transit connection to an East Baltimore MARC station, so that the MARC system can have some semblance of integration with Baltimore's regional transit system - something that is taken for granted in Washington, DC and most other cities with actual functional regional transit systems.
Bayview should thus be an integral station along the line that includes the following stations:
Hopkins Hospital Station - Existing Metro subway station at Baltimore's biggest employer.
Berea/Madison Square Station - New above-ground Metro station on Eager Street serving two very important but rather forgotten neighborhoods.
Orangeville MARC Station - at Edison/Monument Streets, this is the best place for an East Baltimore MARC station because it could be easily integrated into a comprehensive feeder bus terminal and would have an easy 6 or 7 minute ride to the Charles Center Station, thus making the
MARC line to Cecil County an integral part of the Baltimore region transit system and thus able to intercept long distance regional automobile trips. Orangeville also has a tremendous acreage potential for transit-oriented development.
Bayview Station - Probably the station area that is most at the policy crossroads for either continuing its auto-oriented maximum-parking configuration, or becoming a truly urbanized transit oriented edge city.
It is unfortunate that nobody at the MTA or MDOT has thought this far ahead. They are still thinking of rail transit in terms of an end in itself, and highways as being another end to themselves. Both need to be integral parts of a comprehensive transportation system.
So Bayview is at a critical juncture in the evolution of travel patterns for the surrounding area. The Hopkins Bayview campus is growing rapidly but is still at the stage of filling up vast open spaces with surface parking to serve its predominately auto-oriented workforce.
In the future, as these surface parking lots are slated for infill development, the critical decisions must be made as to how many monster parking garages should be built to serve the new buildings and the workers who are already using the surface parking lots.
But the really key parcel for bridging Bayview and Greektown is the MTA bus yard itself, located between Oldham Street and I-895. The bus yard is a constant annoyance to the Greektown community, with empty buses from a large part of the entire MTA service area coming and going at the begining and ends of their runs, and with heavy bus maintenance going on at all hours of the day and night.
The bus yard will be an extremely valuable and attractive parcel for development which essentially allows Bayview to become part of Greektown. A new pedestrian friendly road should be built over I-895 north of Eastern Avenue which should become a new east-west spine of Greektown and Bayview.
Another important parcel is the current Norfolk Southern truck to rail terminal north of Lombard Street and west of I-895. The new MTA Red Line alignment to Bayview also goes through this parcel. The Norfolk Southern freight terminal should be moved southward where it can serve freight from the waterfront, just as the CSX intermodal terminal at Sea Girt does. This parcel can also connect to the property south of Lombard via an opening underneath the Lombard Street bridge, thus making it part of the new urban area contiguous with Greektown and Bayview.
We will be re-inventing history. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city came first and then the suburbs. But in Bayview, Johns Hopkins has developed the suburbs first, with new buildings surrounded by seas of parking. The challenge in the 21st century will be to create a transit oriented urban center so that these Bayview "suburbs" are no longer the area's focal point and identity. The key is to build the urban center around which the suburbs can revolve.
This concept is also the key along the entire "collar" of Baltimore's inner city - to build a ring of new high density walkable transit-oriented developments that relate to the areas just inside it - Canton, Highlandtown, Greektown, Orangeville, Berea and Madison Square - while attracting major new development to areas that can handle it rather than disrupting the existing urban neighborhoods.