May 31, 2009

Collington Avenue


A small "Crime Brief" in last Thursday's Sun describes a typical senseless shooting on the streets of Baltimore: "Butchers Hill man fatally shot near home Wednesday". Except technically, the man did not live, nor was he shot, in Butchers Hill. But I live in Butchers Hill so the story really stuck out for me.

Real estate agents often exaggerate boundaries of more popular neighborhoods to catch people's attention, so it seems plausible that a newspaper might do that too. Several of my neighbors caught the error and notified the Sun, which soon corrected the online version of the story, although this time they omitted the neighborhood from the headline. Seems that Middle East doesn't sell as well as Butchers Hill.

So what's in a neighborhood boundary? If it's the waterfront, the answer is fairly obvious, but any urban street can be imbued with perceptions that can change property values, racial composition and feelings of safety that become no less real. The street of the shooting, North Collington Avenue, is a classic case in point.

May 15, 2009

Morgan to Canton Streetcar Line


Here's an idea that should expand your visioning horizons, and provide an escape route from the MTA's Green Line planning stalemate.

The MTA actually claims to be considering streetcars as a transit mode for the Green Line project from Hopkins Hospital to Morgan State University. This demonstrates that the MTA is ignoring the central overarching issue, which is what they should do with the heavy rail Metro which currently terminates suddenly and inappropriately at Hopkins Hospital. All it indicates is that the MTA is simply doing cookbook transit planning, and streetcars happen to be the fashionable mode du jour these days.

May 14, 2009



Bravo, Peter Tocco. He's taken my abstract concept for fixing the Franklin-Mulberry corridor and brought it to 3D graphical model life in his new website, , for anyone to see, feel and even change for themselves using Google Sketchup software, which can be downloaded from a link provided on the site.
The image above is from his model, showing how there is enough room in the existing "ditch" for a compressed highway that still accommodates all the traffic, the Red Line, a bikeway, and a local street with transit oriented development on both sides, including multi-level buildings on the north (left) side.

May 4, 2009

"Could you diagram your suggested relocation of the Maryland ramp? Not sure of your location."
- Anonymous writes
Sure. It's shown in blue on the photo map below.

I proposed this a long time ago when I was a city planner, while the city was reconstructing the Jones Falls Expressway. The city decided to rebuild the ramp in the same location as it was before because the engineers thought that there would not be enough weaving distance if the ramp was moved. I showed how the engineers' analysis was faulty but I lost anyway. Yes, the weaving distance would be reduced, but not enough to cause problems, and any disadvantages of that would be more than compensated by the fact that the ramp itself would accommodate the traffic far better.

Now the city wants to squeeze a whole new extension of Martin Luther King Boulevard into this space. How in the world they could pull that off is a total mystery. (I really don't want to know.) It would seem to ruin the whole campus atmosphere the University of Baltimore has been trying to create. Its impact on the Cultural Center (Meyerhoff Hall and Lyric Theater) and the State Center redevelopment are also a question. Perhaps all the new traffic generated by the allegedly "transit oriented" development was the rationale for the MLK extension in the first place.

The property just south of this ramp proposal is used to store postal vehicles - not exactly the most vital use in this area. It could stay if need be, but I don't see why it would.

It's sort of nice to be able to indulge in a slightly long-winded explanation of this.