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Old 08-19-2013, 01:54 PM
5,289 posts, read 6,131,429 times
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How the Red Line and streetcars can live well and affordably together | Baltimore Brew
A former city transportation planner lays out a plan to integrate rail transit in Baltimore – and save the Red Line from itself.

Gerald Neily August 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm Story Link 3

Recommended routes for an integrated system (double lines indicate the existing Metro subway and light-rail Howard Street line).
Photo by: Gerald Neily, Google maps

Baltimore can have a rail transit system that accommodates light-rail and streetcar vehicles on the same lines, if not always in the same places, to take advantage of the best of both.
Modern streetcars and light-rail vehicles have evolved to become practically one and the same. The conflicts and confusion between them arise only because of their design flexibility.
State transportation planners has abused that flexibility in an effort to cram the Red Line into places where it just doesn’t belong and can’t work well.
But the same flexibility could be used to integrate light-rail and streetcar systems to work well and affordably together, tailoring them to their specific environments.
Why the Red Line Fails
The proposed Red Line fails because the three-mile-long tunnel from West Baltimore to Boston Street through downtown will consume so much money – $1.2 billion and rising – that it puts the whole project out of reach.
To deal with the extraordinary cost of the tunnel, Maryland Transit Administration planners have shrunk the station platforms to handle only two-car trains. This despite higher projected ridership than the Baltimore Metro carries on its six-car subway trains.
The Red Line route – from Woodlawn in Baltimore County to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus – is far too slow for a regional system. Regardless of how prospective riders react to its less than 20-mph average speed, the lengthy 45 minute end-to-end travel time with only two-car trains would result in very poor productivity. Feeding bus routes into the line would have very limited benefit.
As presently designed, the Red Line is an expensive, slow, low-capacity “money pit” that is also facing citizen opposition in Canton and elsewhere.
The downtown tunnel isolates the line from the existing Metro subway, requiring a dysfunctional two-block-long pedestrian tunnel for transfers. It also isolates the line from street activity and major destinations it purports to serve, like the Inner Harbor, Harbor East and Fells Point.
Harbor East developer John Paterakis has gone on record as opposing a station at Central Avenue, which would serve his development and Harbor Point, the adjoining office-apartment complex set to receive $107 million in city TIF financing bonds.
Across town, the two stations that were going to serve the University of Maryland’s downtown campus and Medical Center – at Lombard and Greene streets and Martin Luther King Blvd. at Lexington – have had to be eliminated due to cost and engineering problems with the tunnel.
Adding Streetcars to the Mix
Streetcars are the solution. Not only are they far less expensive and more convenient than light rail, but because using surface streetcars for a portion of the Red Line corridor can enable the rest of the line to be built in a far more effective and integrated way – and at a far more reasonable price.
The Red Line’s route is not the major issue here. Much of the planning and design work already done can be salvaged. The main question is which segment of the Red Line should be designed to accommodate high-capacity light-rail trains and which should be designed to handle only single-unit streetcars.
These segments can overlap for greater connectivity and flexibility, since streetcars can be accommodated virtually anywhere (with some adjustments to its overhead electrical system and car-body design).
Integrated rail lines that could bring Baltimore transportation into the 21st century. (Gerald Neily)

The potential for streetcars in the Red Line corridor should have been clearly suggested when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Alternatives Analysis by the MTA concluded that the all-surface option had by far the highest cost effectiveness.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:55 PM
5,289 posts, read 6,131,429 times
Reputation: 1135
Somebody is thinking!!!!!
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Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

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