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.

These buildings would front on both the new local street and existing Franklin Street, integrating this area with the existing community. But this image is only the tip of the iceberg of what Tocco has created. You need to go to to really experience this.
Unfortunately, instead of healing this depressed area, the MTA wants to put the Red line on the path of least resistance, most likely in the existing highway median strip with expressway traffic whizzing by on both sides. So thank you Peter Tocco, for palpably demonstrating just how pathetic the MTA response really is.

My account of how came about is posted on , aided and abetted by its editor and my ghost writer, Fern "Brewmistress" Shen (playing the ghost role both literally and hauntingly).

I don't understand this computer modeling stuff, but there is a whole computer literate generation out there (plus a few oldsters too) who are ready to take to it to demonstrate how Baltimore can be visually planned from the grassroots up, and BaltiMorphosis shows how to do it.

This image shows the scene from the local street Tocco has designed for the ditch. It is derived from the photo montage that is on the BaltiMorphosis home page, which uses Flash software to show superimposed images of the existing barren conditions, the MTA's plan to slap the Red Line into the middle of the highway, and this livable alternative. With a click, the images dissolve into each other, highlighting the differences in a way that nothing else could do.

BaltiMorphosis addresses change in Baltimore in a completely different and refreshing way than what I am able to do here. I named this website Baltimore InnerSpace because I wanted to use it to describe what we don't see as we move around Baltimore. I mostly don't think of this stuff from observation. I think of various places in the abstract and then figure out how their relationships can be changed so that they can work better together.
But it can be nebulous, so I thank those of you who have plowed through all the verbiage I've posted here, in coming up with ideas that I'd like to believe can make Baltimore work better. brings it all to life.


  1. Gerald,

    I love walking and taking transit (and that is hard to say in this city), but as things are now and probably will be for at least 20 years, driving is a necessity in Baltimore. Taking the bus to Catonsville from downtown can take hours, and the Light Rail to Timonium is only slightly less stressful.

    Therefore I propose that the FHWA and the state reopen plans to build the eastern end of I-70 to the planned terminus at I-95 (near Caton Ave.), as well as the I-170 spur that would connect with the so called highway to nowhere, the original plan. West Baltimore isn't getting any better and I doubt there would be as much opposition to the 3DI (3 digit interstate) as there was back when it was snubbed.

    Combined with the Red Line, this would provide Baltimoreans a fast and safe route out of the city to the west, allowing better access for commuters, and thus less fuel used. This would also eliminate some of the outer loop congestion between the current (virtual) end to I-70 and the southern I-95 interchange.

    Can you give me some realistic reasons why this will probably never happen? And don't get me started on routing I-83 to the Holabird interchange...


    GIS Student & Roadgeek
    Towson U.

  2. Sorry you don't like the BaltiMorphosis plan, Elliott. The plan to connect the Franklin-Mulberry Expressway to I-95 near Caton was a pathetic last ditch (pun intended) attempt in the late 70s/early 80s to make the "highway to nowhere" go somewhere, after the Leakin Park Expressway was killed, but it makes no sense. Essentially it would just be another way to get from Downtown to I-95 for motorists at US 40 at Greene Street or MLK Blvd. Why not just take Greene or MLK Blvd to I-95? I-95 already serves downtown as much as it can.

    It would be a huge expense and destroy still more of West Baltimore, which has already been abused more than enough, while adding no capacity whatsoever to the highway system. I-95 already gets clogged.

    BTW Elliott, I don't know much about ancient history such as alleys. My history pretty much starts around 1960 when my family moved to B'more.

  3. Gerald,

    I see your point about I-95 being unable to handle more traffic, but what if it headed west to the park and ride through the parks. Actually, I withdraw that idea. I was just thinking that it's a pain to have to drive (from say, Woodlawn to downtown) either down to I-95 and up I-395 or around the beltway to I-83 and down. But to be honest, a direct route from the I-70 terminus would be quicker but at what expense--and by how much. I know that it takes about 5-10 minutes to reach 83 or 95 from 70, so therefore billions of dollars spent isn't worth saving a few minutes.

    I do, in fact, like your plan. Since, my rant on the extension was wishful thinking at best, your plan is better than what the MTA proposed, IMO. Perhaps it could be accompanied by some urban renewal in the area. West Baltimore could use it.

    Again sorry for sounding a bit harsh. Long day. Oh and don't worry about the alleys, I'll keep looking.

    - Elliott

  4. How does retaining the ditch better connect the area locally then a cap that would have the neighborhood continue interupted on the same grade?

    Also, a lowering- covering of an MLK road with tunnel directly connecting to I-83. We need to serve the broad public interest, locally and regionally rather then maintiaining ditches.

  5. To clarify, Douglas: The ditch is to be retained under all MTA Red Line alternatives. The transit line would be down in the ditch, according to the apparent community preference. The city government's current plan is to cap over one block of the ditch.

    In contrast, the BaltiMorphosis plan is to redevelop the entire length of the ditch with development that would have access BOTH from the existing surface streets, thereby tieing it into the community, and from a new local street down in the ditch. This development would also have far better access to the transit line than any MTA alternative.

    The BaltiMorphosis concept thereby provides three times the access to new development as the city and MTA proposals. The MTA also wants only one Red Line station in the entire ditch corridor, which we believe is inadequate.

    The city does have a plan to connect MLK Boulevard to I-83 as you propose, but not with a tunnel. Yes, this would make the existing Franklin-Mulberry Expressway function much more like an Interstate highway than it does now, and greatly increase the ease of moving traffic through the area as was originally envisioned in the expressway plans of the 1960s and 1970s.

  6. Why no proposal to cover the freeway trench with new development as being proposed for the I-395 Center Leg in Washington, D.C.?