January 5, 2008

Red Line


I must admit that I am all Red Lined out. I've said just about everything here that I have to say about the Red Line, and anything more at this time would simply be a negative dump on the MTA and their entourage. None of that is needed, because the Red Line as they have defined it probably cannot be built and will die under its own weight.

I'm still talking about the Red Line in spite of this, in the context of the Envision Baltimore online forum that I have been plugging in my "links" to the right. This is a more interactive forum, and suits the fact that what we need right now is to reach some kind of actual consensus, and not just have somebody blogging who thinks they have all the answers.

The Red Line is extremely important, most pointedly in order to determine just how and if Baltimore is actually going to GROW in the 21st century. There have been some recent articles and letters in the Sun and elsewhere about what can be done with the Franklin-Mulberry corridor wasteland, and they haven't even mentioned the Red Line !!!!! One guy wanted to put a salt dome there, while another wanted to erect a William Donald Schaefer monument to "arrogant bullheadedness" 1970s planning. Come on folks, let's get serious about the future !!!!!!!

What it all boils down to is that we have built a very nice "new Baltimore" centered around the waterfront that is dependent upon automobiles and monster parking garages. Baltimore has gone pretty much as far as we can go with this idea. It is far too late to build a transit system that is merely an "alternative" to this lifestyle, especially if that transit system is going to be mediocre in any way.

What we need to grow in the Franklin-Mulberry corridor and other places like Westport and the Bayview-Canton Edge City is a whole new environment, where transit is the predominant mode in the same way that elevators are the predominant mode for getting to the 50th floor of a high rise building. For that we need superior transit, tailored specifically for the new environment and connected directly to the ancillary transit system that can take you to Washington DC, New York and other places where it is really starting to get difficult to drive.

I still have lots of things to say about other parts of Baltimore, but 2008 needs to be the year of the Red Line.


  1. I agree, Baltimore is in sore need of mass transit that connects east to west. Trying to move from east to west on a bus can take hours unfortunately.

  2. I'm also sick of beating a dead horse that is the red line. My coming posts on Envision Baltimore will have little or nothing to do with the red line.

  3. Give it up. We have had 10 years of gas prices over $2/gallon, and yet our "transit friendly state" doesn't have a train to the state capital (linking Bmore or DC...seemingly obvious commuter measures and money makers)...and Baltimore County doesn't even have light rail to the county seat. Want to go to Towson without driving? Better get a bus map!

  4. The new Red Line should be on a BRT transit vehicle because its cheaper and no long term construction using its own right-of-way like a light rail. But the need for an east to west line should been thought of when the Light Rail was under consideration in the 1980`s. A BRT Should be plan for the Green Line extension and also a new North to South Line from Towson to Cromwell Station.

  5. The Light Rail should connect to DC`s Metrorail at an new transfer point between our station and the WMATA Metrorail`s station for easy service from Baltimore to D.C.

  6. I think the bridge over pratt street offers another approach to the pratt street turnpike. Actually form a wide arcade/promenade at the second story of the office buildings. Make it a main entrance to Harbor Place and possibly even sweep it towards the community college and across to the old Power Plant. Aerial sidewalks are big in Asia and take pedestians out of the traffic.
    If I can come visit you on November 15th I could show you exactly what I mean.
    Bilbobar@yahoo.com - WILDEM

  7. I am part of a urban planning team at Penn State University teamed with the community leaders of the West Baltimore Coalition. We are helping with the redevelopment of the MARC station, Ice House, and the Idustrial triangle bounded by Rt. 40 and the rail line based around the Transit Oriented Development and sustainable/green design. I could use any advice/ recommendations on what types of uses or amentities this area could benefit from in the mentioned areas. Thank you.

  8. Ah, Penn State...I went there way way back in the day when Joe Paterno was merely old... Roar lions roar. I'd say that the key to planning such an area is simply to add as much value to the land as possible. To that end, I'd say the most worthwhile project in the West MARC station area would be to create a new community-friendly terminus to the Franklin-Mulberry Expressway, getting rid of as much of the awful retaining walls as practical, narrowing the highway to four lanes and realigning all of it as far south toward Mulberry and as far west toward Warwick as possible. Then Franklin Street could be made into a truly community-oriented street serving only local traffic, especially adjacent to the MARC station and the Ice House. The specific uses for the land should not be pinned down - a developer should determine that - but it should be as transit-oriented as possible, taking advantage of MARC, the Red Line, and feeder buses.

  9. I tried to find the most recent post that you did on the redline to add this info. They are trying to incorporate "green tracks", most often seen in Europe in the Red Line development:

    There is even a local example to check out:
    "Interested in seeing the green track test segments in person?
    In mid-town Baltimore go to the Cultural Center Light Rail Station which is near the intersection of North Howard and West Preston Streets. There are two test areas here."

    Glad to hear they are making the effort!
    Thanks for the good info on your blog :)

  10. The least time I checked, Christina, the "green tracks" along Howard Street across from State Center had just about totally turned to brown dirt. It appears the MTA is about as good at growing grass as they are at running a transit system.