January 28, 2012

Exelon in Westport

Give it up, Downtown Partnership -
Put Exelon in Westport
Patrick Turner's proposed Westport development on the Middle Branch, near the Baltimore-Washington Parkway

It's a municipal wet dream. A Fortune 200 company plans to build a major new office building, an investment of hundreds of millions, and they're only considering one city - Baltimore.

So Kirby Fowler, President of the Downtown Partnership, writes in the Baltimore Sun that the downtown business interests he represents do not want Exelon to build a new building, because there is already a glut of unwanted office space. And failing that, they want only downtown sites to be considered, even though he admits that locating there would require massive tax subsidies as an inducement that Exelon is not even demanding.

January 10, 2012

Key Highway / Light Street Update

An intersection design that actually works -
Without the drama
The intersection of Key Highway and Light Street is totally inappropriate for a roundabout. Here's a simple design solution that actually works. Essentially, the two existing islands on Key Highway and Light Street would simply be enlarged to tighten up the intersection of northbound Light Street and the southbound left turn movement that crosses over it. This very tight intersection with minimum length pedestrian crosswalks would be controlled by a simple two-phase traffic signal. Pedestrians would cross Key Highway while Light Street through traffic moves, and would cross Light Street while Key Highway traffic moves - so simple even a BC-DOT employee could do it.

A third median island would then be constructed to totally remove southbound Light Street from the intersection. This island would start at Montgomery Street and extend as far north as desired. Essentially southbound Light Street would function as a quiet single-lane local service road with parking and any other appropriate desired traffic calming measures such as speed humps and "Stop for Pedestrians" pylons. It would also be possible to extend the southbound Light Street island separating "arterial" traffic destined for Key Highway and "local " traffic destined for Federal Hill as far north as Conway Street. While this would be an excellent way of minimizing the heavy traffic exposure on the adjacent land uses (Christ Church Apartments, Harbor Court Condos/Hotel), it would tend to make this seem like a permanent solution.

This design should be much cheaper than a roundabout. The railroad track wouldn't even need to be removed, unless the city wanted to. It would probably be preferable to keep this as cheap as possible, in keeping with the idea that it would only be temporary until the city comes to its senses and decides to create a more permanent solution with a narrower Light Street along the entire Inner Harbor.

Proposed intersection design, with a new median island starting at the Montgomery Street intersection (left/south end) to totally separate southbound Light Street through traffic from the Key Highway intersection. This median could be extended as far north (right) as desired. The two existing islands (center) would also be enlarged, with a new "bump out" (center left) to tighten up the remaining intersection as much as possible. The Science Center is at the lower right.

January 6, 2012

Roundabout at Key Highway / Light Street

An Inner Harbor roundabout for all the wrong reasons
The real problem is that Light Street is about twice as wide as it should be. A roundabout at the end of this stretch of the Inner Harbor in front of the Science Center (upper left) would only add to its problems.

The only good thing that can be said about the city's latest proposal for a roundabout at the intersection of Key Highway and Light Street is that there is plenty of space for it. But it would be just another Inner Harbor doo-dad that ignores actual traffic conditions and long-term needs.