April 18, 2011

Franklin-Mulberry Gateway

Here are some more Google Earth images showing how the interchange of the Franklin-Mulberry Expressway and MLK Boulevard should be downsized and transformed into a new gateway between Downtown and West Baltimore, with the Heritage Crossing community and the Metro West Social Security complex as the linchpins.

Read the whole story at The Baltimore Brew:
The Franklin-Mulberry Expressway is shown downsized to a single overpass over MLK Boulevard, to expand Heritage Crossing.

The "plan view" shows the new roads in yellow. The new east-west street is Franklin Street, relocated as a neighborhood street. The north-south street is an extension of Pine Street from the University of Maryland campus (toward the south, bottom) to Heritage Crossing (to the north, top, at the end of the "hook"). To  the east (right end) is a new connector from Franklin Street onto the downsized expressway.

This drawing eliminates the direct connector road between Heritage Crossing, MLK Boulevard and Pine Street. I then realized a better solution if it is feared such a link would attract too much traffic would be to design the MLK median opening so that only bikes and pedestrians can use it.

Looking west from downtown.

Looking north from the University of Maryland.

Heritage Crossing looks like it's a downtown neighborhood, with the Social Security tower as a pleasant backdrop...

But the "highway to nowhere" and MLK Boulevard underneath it stand rudely in the way. That expressway overpass needs to go, and new urban "people places" put in its place.


  1. The Poppleton Station Area Advisory Committee has looked at MLK and the issue how a station for the Red Line proposed near the Saratoga Street intersection with MLK could become a viable node that would be accessible and safe. The SAAC is very concerned that the proposed station and Red Line would make MLK more of a barrier and has proposed a station right at MLK and Baltimore Street (underground) instead. In repsone to the SAAC concerns and as facilitators Mahan Rykiel and ArchPlan have illustrated possible redevelopment of the MLK/Franklin/Mulberry area assuming that the two overpasses would be taken down and the resulting intersections would have development in all four corners. The visuals have similar goals as expressed in your blog, namely allowing downtown to gradually transition and weave into the westside neighborhoods and making MLK less of a divide.

  2. It's great to know you're on the case, Klaus. The fact that the community wants such a radical and expensive solution as burying the Poppleton Red Line station shows what a huge problem this is. The MTA already rejected an underground University station just to the east.

    I've concluded that the traffic impact can be lessened on all the streets if one expressway overpass is retained, but it is obviously feasible to remove both since they're both closed right now anyway. But greatly reducing traffic on Franklin west of MLK would also allow it to be made into a totally local street and allow the adjacent earth berms to be eliminated, making Heritage Crossing the asset and anchor that it should be. It's too bad the city has been so obstinate about these issues.