July 22, 2009

Hilton Terminal

Hilton Terminal: The only solution to the west end Red Line mess

Nobody else has a solution, so I'll just have to do it. This plan original appeared in March in Baltimore Brew.
Now the MTA has said they need to save money by building only a single track tunnel under Cooks Lane. Obviously, if the MTA can't build a decent tunnel under Cooks Lane, that means they really can't build a tunnel under Edmondson Avenue either, which has become a non-negotiable demand of the surrounding community. But if the MTA ignores this demand, they will probably end up in court and the Red Line will die a slow death.
So in the spirit of reconciliation, I offer this plan. (I don't know why people think of me as a troublemaker. I only want to help.)

The Red Line should end at Hilton Parkway, where it will still serve the Edmondson communities, but it will not ram its way into them. Then build a terminal station/parking garage/Leakin Park Gateway where part of the obsolete Hilton Parkway interchange now stands on land that once belonged to the park.

I've sketched the rough concept in the Google Earth image above. The colors are:
RED - The Red Line - ending in a widened median of Edmondson Avenue at Hilton Parkway.

YELLOW - A multi-level structure built on what is now the north half of the Hilton Parkway interchange. The top level would be new parkland with a playground, commercial kiosks serving transit riders, and a gateway entrance to the rest of the park. The lower levels would be parking.

This photo shows the grade differential between Hilton Street (above) and Hilton Parkway (below) which enables the construction of an almost invisible parking garage in the hole created by the interchange. The houses in the background would then look out on parkland instead of a highway interchange.

MAGENTA - Hilton Parkway, straightened out and narrowed into the westernmost underpass under Edmondson Avenue. The ramps south of Edmondson would be unchannelized to accommodate traffic now using the ramps to the north.

BLUE - The existing southbound ramp from Hilton Parkway to Edmondson Avenue, which would be adapted to carry two-way traffic including some vehicles now using the ramps. It may be necessary to feed all southbound traffic from the north into this road to nullify the potential conflicts at the north end. A short bridge over the parkway below would provide access to the parking garage.
GREEN - New pedestrian and bike paths through the new parkland on top of the parking deck, leading to the Gwynns Falls Greenway shown in the upper right corner, at the Leon Day Park playfields off of Franklintown Road. Connections to this path would be provided over the top of Hilton from Harlem Avenue (shown, upper left) or Denison Street, as well as inside the existing underpass under Edmondson now used by northbound Hilton Parkway traffic.
Here is the Hilton Parkway underpass seen from the south, with Edmondson Avenue on top. Traffic would be consolidated into the road going through the left tunnel, and the right side would be renovated for pedestrians and bikes. If Edmondson Avenue can be widened sufficiently, a stairway up to the transit station in the Edmondson median could be provided.
This photo shows the gorgeous Gwynns Falls Valley which is now all but invisible and inaccessible to the community because of the interchange. The new pathway from Hilton/Edmondson to the Greenway Trail would be just to the left of this photo and the railroad tracks.

Implementing this plan would enable the Red Line to work with the community instead of tearing it apart. It would also save a ton of money compared with what the MTA wants to do (a squeezed force-fed unworkable Red Line), and two tons of money compared to what the community wants to do (an underground Red Line).


  1. hey mr.neily,I'm Vijay,from hyderabad,india.i'm gonna be in baltimore from this fall,coz i got admission at JHU.I was looking for some general info on baltimore,and happened to stumble upon your blog. I've gotta tell you,sir...Baltimore's lucky to have someone like you who cares so much about the city and its people.I sincerely hope the concerned authorities take your suggestions and implement them.They're so "Mac-gyverish"...simple and effective. I wish you a health and happiness,sir.Have a good day.

  2. Welcome to B'more, Vijay ! Baltimore has lots of people who care - living here is its own hobby.

    When I think of MacGyver, I think of a guy escaping from elevator shafts as the seconds tick away on a time-bomb. We actually have a transportation planner who has worked for the City for about a zillion years (and still does as far as I know) who has been called MacGyver for the way he escapes from trapped elevators (another transit mode that doesn't always work, especially in City government buildings). He claims he does it because of claustrophobia, but I think it's just great survival skills - after all, he's survived a long time with the City Transportation Dept. Maybe that's why I haven't heard from him lately - he's busy silently surviving, something I could only do for 20 years with the City (not very silently).

    But even MacGyver got cancelled eventually, although he lives on in reruns. Most of Baltimore's crazy transit schemes like the Red Line seem like reruns too.

  3. hey mr.neily,
    It was so kind of you to reply.thank you,sir.

    Yeah,I havent watched much of MacGyver, but I've seen enough episodes, and you're right - the guy does get trapped and escapes from elevator shafts a lot.If you liked MacGyver,you might like a Tv show thats currently airing on USA network - Burn Notice. I'm sure u'll enjoy it,if you liked MacGyver.

    I would hopefully get to see more of Baltimore, eventually, because my course schedule at Johns Hopkins is going to be hectic. I wonder if i'll even find a job,let alone spend time on it or going around the town. but in the end, I'm sure i'll contribute something to the city too, because sir,from mid-aug,I'm gonna be a proud citizen of Baltimore too :) Have a nice day,sir.