The Day You Became a Red Line Convert

harbor-point-renderingoriginal_600

Image source: Ekus Manfredi Architects

Traffic is going to create Red Line supporters. You may support the Red Line because you got a job working on the project or like the idea of not having to move your parked car, but your conversion will probably be a day when you and your car (or bus) do not make it through the traffic light cycle on President, Fleet, or Aliceanna Streets.  Baltimoreans will realize the existing streets cannot support the amount of traffic on the way.  If it hasn’t happened to you already, it is coming. It might be at rush hour, or when a festival is happening, or an event, or when there is a game at the ball park that is causing the delay. When it happens, you will be aggravated and you will wonder, “Is there any other way? “

It (traffic) is going to get worse, a lot worse.  Baltimore City as a whole might be treading population water, but the southeast waterfront neighborhoods are booming with development and downtown is adding many residents.  It will mean a lot more people (cars) on the same sclerotic streets we have now.

The impetus for Red Line conversions are going to happen at our clogged intersections. When we put on our “look into the near future glasses” we see:

Thousands more downtown residents (Mechanic site redevelopment pictured below) one of many downtown projects in the works

Mechanic-Rendering-A10

A full Union Wharf  

Union Wharf

A bustling Marketplace at Fells Point

Market Place at Fells

A built out Canton Crossing

Canton-Crossing-rendering

The Hanover Brewers Hill and The Gunther Apartments

Brewers Hill developmentThe-Gunther-at-Brewers-Hill-

And of course, the granddaddy of them all, the 2.9 million square feet Harbor Point traffic Armageddon.

new-size-of-harbor-point

All of the above projects will be finished or in progress before the Red Line even breaks ground.  All these and future projects will increase traffic. When we put on our 2021 glasses, the year the Red Line is expected to be operational; all evidence points to SE Baltimore being a far denser and economically more important than it is 2013.  People are often arguing about the Red Line based on 2013 transportation needs. That is unfortunate. The Red Line is about what we need to do today to be ready for 2021.  Between today and 2021, there will be a lot of aggravated people stuck in intersections who will become Red Line converts. Hopefully, we are wise enough in 2013 to keep the project on track!

JL

Advertisements

Red Line: an Alternative to Scarce Parking

State transportation funding is coming down to the wire and Baltimore’s Red Line is at stake. Losing out on this $2.5 billion injection into Baltimore’s economy is one of the many reasons outlined nicely in this commentary. However, it’s also worth talking about the many ways the Red Line will help your parking situation especially if you live in or visit Southeast (SE) Baltimore.

Premium street parking in SE Baltimore

Everyone who has driven to downtown, Harbor East, Little Italy, Fells Point, Canton, and Greektown knows street parking is beyond a precious commodity and garage parking is expensive.  When there is an event like the Fells Point Fun Festival, parking is a nightmare. Everyday parking is no piece of cake either and has created regular tension between residents, businesses, restaurants, and retailers. The Red Line will help in a major way.

If a meager four percent of the Red Line’s projected 50,000 daily users who would otherwise be parking on downtown/Southeast neighborhood streets are riding the Red Line instead of driving, it would free up 2,000 street spaces.  That translates to over thirteen acres of parking.  To build the equivalent amount of spaces in new parking garages would cost in the ballpark of $40,000,000 and would likely cost far more than a transit ticket for users to park. As an added bonus, Red Line users will generally bypass another Baltimore problem, traffic congestion, by speeding under the most congested intersections.

For many in SE Baltimore, parking is their number one headache. Of note, much of the Red Line opposition in SE Baltimore comes from those with their own parking spaces. The Red Line is not going to solve parking scarcity in SE Baltimore, but it will be darn nice to have an another way to get around and an alternative to giving up a space that you may have worked very hard to find.

Canton Parking Baltimore Sun

Increasingly scarce parking in Canton                Image source: Barbara H. Taylor, Baltimore Sun

Fells Point Fun Festival

Where do people park at events like the Fells Point Fun Festival? Red Line will help.  Image source: City Data

baltimore-md traffic

The Red Line would go underneath this congestion         Image source: Business Insider

tight-parking-space funny

The future of street parking without the Red Line         Image source: signature 9

Savings from not owning a car

According to Consumer Expenditures in 2006, released in February of 2008 by the US Department of Labor’s US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average vehicle costs $8,003 per year to own and operate. Meanwhile, an annual MTA pass costs $768. Zipcars also provide an alternative to car ownership.

Let’s presume 20% of the 50,000 Red Line daily riders decide they don’t need a car (or a second  or third vehicle in their household). Assuming they all purchase a monthly MTA pass, that 20% of riders would collectively save more than $72 million per year.

Of course, if you don’t own a car you don’t have to park it.

Summary

If you don’t like:

  • searching for scarce parking
  • paying for parking
  • the cost of owning and maintaining one or more vehicles
  • having a landscape devoted to surface parking or garages
  • traffic congestion at intersections
  • having federal infrastructure dollars being spent outside of Baltimore

then the Red Line might be exactly what you need!

JL

%d bloggers like this: