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Baltimore's car-stuffed waterfront is poised to keep adding more cars

Fancy office towers, hotels, museums, and tourist attractions line the contours of Baltimore's Chesapeake Bay harborfront. So too, do massive parking garages and interstate-sized roadways that feed them. What does the future hold? According to a new plan, still more parking.


A waterfront parking garage at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. All photos by the author.

Like much of America, Baltimore waterfront development since the age of cars has been designed for the age of cars. That looks likely to continue as the waterfront grows.

The Greater Baltimore Committee and Waterfront Partnership hired architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross to prepare Inner Harbor 2.0, an overarching new plan for reinvigorating Baltimore's Inner Harbor waterfront.

The Director of Landscape Architecture for Ayers Saint Gross, Jonathon Ceci, said about a parcel of harborfront currently covered by beach volleyball courts, "The site is basically an island cut off from the rest of the Inner Harbor. Besides Key Highway [on one side], you've got the water [on the other side] and a lack of parking garages. The question was, how do you make it a magnet for urban activity?"

How does Ceci plan to create "a magnet for urban activity"? Apparently, with parking garages. The Inner Harbor 2.0 plan recommends a $20 million garage on this waterfront site at a public cost of $12-14 million.

Baltimoreans should question the line of thinking that big garages are the best magnets for urban activity. Big garages and wide roads go hand in hand. They create the "island effect" that Mr. Ceci wants to eliminate.

Baltimore's near waterfront has more high-rise parking spaces than high-rise residential units with waterfront views. There are at least 6 waterfront parking garages, and at least 14 large parking garages within one block of the waterfront. At least 9 parking garages rise to between 7 and 12 stories tall. The waterfront has around 4,500 parking spaces already planned or under construction: 4,000 at the Horseshoe casino and about 500 at Rash field.

Meanwhile, the one-way street pairs adjacent to the harbor have 10 lanes of through traffic, while at many times, cars cannot make it through a light in one cycle. Baltimore has used these streets for 180-mile per hour races.

What Baltimore's waterfront has gained by attracting tens of thousands of cars it might have lost by being unfriendly to pedestrians, bicyclists, urban livability, and more local populations. Walkers can enjoy a promenade ringing the water, but to venture inland, they have to cross many lanes of unfriendly traffic. These physical road barriers separate the water from Baltimore's traditional downtown and may limit economic development from more easily sweeping inland.


A family racing from the Inner Harbor to safety.

Ironically, all the car infrastructure may not make car driving easy. Supersized roads and garages contribute to congestion that can offset cars' theoretical time-saving advantages. Driving across town and up and down garages sometimes is slower than walking and bicycling. The business case for more parking erodes if corresponding congestion leads to traffic jams and stress.


Rush hour traffic near Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

By adding four high frequency Charm City Circulator bus routes, Baltimore has made progress. It can do much more to shift the balance.

Here are some additional ideas to consider near the waterfront:

  • Create an app that directs cars to affordable satellite parking spaces.
  • Create a tax on new parking garages and dedicate the revenue to non-automotive transportation.
  • Let developers choose to pay into an alternative transportation fund instead of building parking as required by zoning.
  • Encourage parking at outlying transit stations that serve downtown.
  • Re-introduce and enforce bus-only lanes downtown.
  • Create peripheral park & ride lots with frequently departing shuttles servicing downtown, similar to the way airport shuttles work.
  • Create iconic Inner Harbor bus shelters.
  • Operate Camden Line trains on weekends for special events and Orioles games.
  • Ask the Orioles to reward fans for not bringing a car.
  • Create a discounted MTA family pass.
  • Ask downtown employers to create financial incentives for employees to not bring a car.
  • Build Pratt Street and Key Highway cycletracks to support bicyclists and bikeshare.
  • Add Charm City Circulator routes to South Baltimore, Canton, the Casino parking garage, and new park & ride locations.
  • Make sure the east-west Red Line moves forward.
Baltimore's waterfront must be accessible to people who own cars. However, with more affordable, safe, and convenient alternatives, some drivers would be happy to visit the city's downtown waterfront, while leaving the car outside of the city center.
Jeff La Noue is a project and sustainability planner in Baltimore. He has an Economics degree from St. Mary's College of Maryland and a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Maryland-College Park. Posts are his own viewpoint and do not necessarily reflect his employer. Jeff also runs his own urbanist blog, Comeback City

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AN ENTIRE CITY OF MARYLAND DRIVERS is reason enough to not want to drive there myself. Not that I'll feel much safer as a pedestrian this weekend.

by LowHeadways on Apr 15, 2014 10:28 am • linkreport

Pratt street is absurdly wide and unsafe to cross. Take a lane out.

by Trollie McTrollerson on Apr 15, 2014 10:32 am • linkreport

Pratt and Lombard are the absolute worst. I was almost late to my own wedding because it took a half hour to drive 8 blocks.

by JS on Apr 15, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

Oddly enough, on my last several trips to Baltimore (without a car), I haven't gone near the Inner Harbor. The city has lots to do in its many great neighborhoods that are historic and walkable. Investing more in that small downtown zone seems like a poor investment.

by Adam L on Apr 15, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

Someone needs to drop a New Urbanist bomb on the whole city. It has spectacular bones, but the connective tissue is a mess and this is exactly why.

by Thayer-D on Apr 15, 2014 10:52 am • linkreport

Agreed that the inner harbor could have better pedestrian access to other parts of the city (including Camden Yards/Station) but it looks like the family you pictured above wouldn't have had to "race to safety" if they had just waited for the light to turn from yellow to red.

by sbc on Apr 15, 2014 10:57 am • linkreport

I've driven into Baltimore - let me tell you I was praying to any and every god I could think of to avoid crashing with one of the big rigs going 60 down the city streets...

Baltimore would do well to look at what Miami/Miami Beach/Ft Lauderdale has done/is doing in trying to transform their car-oriented sprawl into something commutable. There are several pleasant, walkable cities in Miami-Dade & Broward, all of which were VERY Baltimore-esque just 10 years ago. (See Miami Beach, Brickell, Ft Lauderdale Beach, Del Ray, etc)

by PotomacAveres on Apr 15, 2014 11:01 am • linkreport

I have to walk a mile from Camden station to my office every morning, and then a mile back in the evening. It is not pleasant.

Crossing Pratt St. at 5:00pm is dangerous. There's so much traffic that cars can't make it through to intersection. Plus, there's high pedestrian volume, especially during O's season. The result is chaos as cars are trying to back up to get out of the roadway, people are crossing behind them, and light rail trains are crossing Pratt in both directions.

Weekend Camden Line service is a great idea. Hope it actually happens, soon.

by Paul on Apr 15, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

Pratt in front of the harbor needs to be a tunnel.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 15, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

It's too bad that the planners aren't using the example of Harbor East, just a mile east of the Inner Harbor. For all its faults, it is genuinely walkable and urban.

by jfruh on Apr 15, 2014 11:27 am • linkreport

1 the suggestions mostly seem reasonable

2. Inner Harbor, by early 1980s standards was a huge success for urbanism. For many suburbanites in the region, it was their first intro do urban walkability.

3. Note the whole IH is not that small a place. If you are using the attractions south of the harbor, like the science center, federal hill park, the visionary art museum, you will be fairly far from the new red line.

4. Pratt is indeed too wide. OTOH the bridge to the galleria works better than most such elevated ped structures, as there is significant upper level retail at both ends. Light street is also a problem - though of course it works much better further south

5. Baltimore away from the IH is in many ways very successful in walkability and urbanism. Go look at Mt Vernon, Bolton Hill, Fells Point, Charles Village, Federal Hill, South Baltimore, etc.

6. There are a LOT fewer surface lots near the IH than there were 25 years ago. Inner Harbor East is virtually a new downtown on what had been parking lots.

7. The hirises have never ruined urbanism in Baltimore (Ive always liked walking around Baltimore Street and Light Street) and have been complements to the row house city.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 15, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

@Jeff

Baltimore and its Inner Harbor are on the Patapsco River, not Chesapeake Bay btw.

by Burd on Apr 15, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

I hope they don't build this monstrosity. What will Iceman and I do when we want to throw on some jeans and aviators and get a good sweaty game of beach volleyball going? And where will I lay out after taking a cool dip in the harbor?

by Colonel Silky on Apr 15, 2014 11:34 am • linkreport

They should be running really frequent service on the Circulator that connects to Penn Station instead now that there is good weekend service on MARC. Locate parking lots at the periphery of circulator routes if need be.

by BTA on Apr 15, 2014 11:50 am • linkreport

There are Bus Only lanes on Pratt and Lombard but they were enforced for maybe a month after they were constructed.

Unless the lanes are clearly marked, painted, delineated with zebra barriers, and heavily enforced, cars and cabs will continue to treat them as a normal lane.

by Chris on Apr 15, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

Don't count on any type of weekend service on the Camden Line--especially for baseball games. They tried that for years, and in the end, the uncertain end times made it unworkable.

If you take a train to Penn Station, you have light rail, but, and by summer's end bikeshare. Driving to a suburban light rail station also works fairly well.

by JimT on Apr 15, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Riblet on Apr 15, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

Good article. I recently took the MARC to BMore on a weekend and had a blast. But they definitely need more transit ASAP and I agree that it already felt like there were way too many parking garages.

by h st ll on Apr 15, 2014 12:17 pm • linkreport

Gee. Perhaps if the Federal Government were located in Baltimore and built that city a world class subway system like they did for Washington,then there wouldn't be the need for parking downtown. The Rash Field garage will be completely underground and the top of it will be used for recreation.

For some reason, the Washington Post always has negative things to say about Baltimore. It would be nice if this newspaper directed it's resources to solving Washington's urban problems - which are many.

by D Keith on Apr 15, 2014 12:17 pm • linkreport

The biggest problem with Pratt street is through traffic. Yes there are too many parking garages, but a significant portion of the traffic is trying to get from 95 to 83 and the route around is circuitous and long.

Two one way 5 lane streets does not at 10 lane street make. The one way design makes things much more comfortable for pedestrians. President street, which is 2 way, can be much more difficult.

All of this is about the inner harbor, a tourist attraction. The walk-able parts of Baltimore, the parts with good restaurants and sights most Greater Washington folks would be interested in, are away from the harbor in very walk-able neighborhoods. While I would like better development at the harbor side, it isn't like this is the center of activity in the city. The mall and monuments in DC aren't the most walk-able transit friendly places either. Independence, 14th Street, and Constitution among others make the mall annoying to walk around.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 12:18 pm • linkreport

You mention the new Horshoe casino as being near the waterfront. I'd say that is not true at all. Its location south of M&T Bank Stadium and west of 395 make it very isolated from the downtown inner harbor activity. I don't forsee many people walking from that area to Fed Hill/Inner Harbor. Russell Street, where the casino will be located, is not a walkable area and is filled with gas stations and old warehouse buildings.

by Tyler on Apr 15, 2014 12:18 pm • linkreport

The author rides a bike to work or takes light rail when it rains or freezes.

Most nearby neighborhoods (not in the Inner Harbor) remain in their historic scale with smaller buildings and small streets. The Inner Harbor area has demolished and rebuilt 80-90% of what existed pre-1950 and its streets were completely re-engineered.

by Jeff on Apr 15, 2014 12:18 pm • linkreport

On a related note, Baltimore will be getting its first new skyscraper in some time (The realtively new Legg Mason building and others in Harbor East are hardly skyscrapers). Just approved for downtown next to the inner harbor and convention center, a new 43-floor, 485-foot, 372-unit apartment building. Design looks great and will certainly do a lot to improve the skyline. The size of the parking garage for the building? 460 spaces!!! Yikes!!

http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/blog/real-estate/2014/04/design-of-inner-harbor-skyscraper-unveiled-praised.html?page=all

by Tyler on Apr 15, 2014 12:29 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for using a false email address and repeatedly changing handles in violation of the comment policy.]

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 12:30 pm • linkreport

The Horseshoe casino parking is being built on the relatively undeveloped Middle Branch waterfront. It is about a 5 minute bike ride to Camden Yards and a 10 minute bicycle ride on the Gwynns Falls Trail to the Inner Harbor from the site. The Middle Branch has the potential to be developed in an urban friendly way. The casino garage does not help.

by Jeff on Apr 15, 2014 12:32 pm • linkreport

I think the cities friendliness to cars and unfriendliness to peds is being exaggerated. I say this knowing the ggw mindset that if it isn't a perfect walkable, bikeable urban utopia where motorists take a back seat, then it's atrocious.

Baltimore needs parking garages around the Inner Harbor because of the huge number of visitors arriving by car everyday, plain and simple. I've driven to the IH many times for various reasons and finding a parking spot in the so-called "glut" of garages is challenging.

The assertion that Baltimore, downtown and the IH specifically, is not walkable is very questionable. It definitely isn't perfect, but it's easily one of the top 20 most walkable in the nation. You should visit some cities down South like Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Dallas, etc. to see how "walkable" they are. I agree with other commenters that Pratt and Lombard are congested sewers that need major overhauls, but even that doesn't hinder me (too much) from walking along or crossing them. Light St is actually more annoying to cross. I've walked in Mt Vernon, from Penn to Camden Station, the neighborhoods around the IH, etc. and have never had difficulty.

Baltimore's biggest problem is a lack of transit connectivity, which will be alleviated by the future Red Line, which will connect West Baltimore, Downtown, the IH, HE, Fells Point, Canton, Bayview, etc. When the Red Line comes, demand for parking will fall accordingly, but until that time comes garages are a necessity. Surface parking lots on the other hand are complete wastes of space and should be banned (fortunately the city has improved a lot in this area).

by King Terrapin on Apr 15, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

Richard, the Aquarium and the historic ships are huge attractions in the Inner Harbor. Especially for folks with kids. I'm a volunteer on one of the historic ships and weekends in the spring/summer/early Fall are very crowded. When the Red Sox or Yankees are in town we get over a 1000 people coming through - that's a lot on a small vessel.

by Capt. Hilts on Apr 15, 2014 12:56 pm • linkreport

The Horseshoe casino parking is being built on the relatively undeveloped Middle Branch waterfront. It is about a 5 minute bike ride to Camden Yards and a 10 minute bicycle ride on the Gwynns Falls Trail to the Inner Harbor from the site. The Middle Branch has the potential to be developed in an urban friendly way. The casino garage does not help.

Being sandwiched between MD 295, M&T Bank Stadium, the Greyhound bus terminal and the trash incinerator, this land is clearly ripe for luxury condos. The huge overpasses of I-395 and I-95 shading out the water only add to the value. The CSX line there is also spectacular.

If there is a place remotely close to downtown to put a casino and parking garage, this seems like a good one.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

Richard, the Aquarium and the historic ships are huge attractions in the Inner Harbor. Especially for folks with kids. I'm a volunteer on one of the historic ships and weekends in the spring/summer/early Fall are very crowded. When the Red Sox or Yankees are in town we get over a 1000 people coming through - that's a lot on a small vessel.

They are huge draws, but they draw more tourists than locals. Sure every local is gonna visit each once or twice, but they are unlikely to go to them once a week or even once a month. Like the Jefferson memorial, they are great attractions but due to the size of the local population vs the world population, they will always get more out of towners than locals.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

If people would stop being defensive for a minute, they would notice that GGW posts these kind of articles about DC and VA all the time. There was literally a post the other day about how a parking garage on U St wouldn't make sense.

by BTA on Apr 15, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

Very true, BTA.

by Capt. Hilts on Apr 15, 2014 1:24 pm • linkreport

If people would stop being defensive for a minute, they would notice that GGW posts these kind of articles about DC and VA all the time. There was literally a post the other day about how a parking garage on U St wouldn't make sense.

The Rash field parking garage is a stupid idea. It doesnt make sense economically, it wont grow the inner harbor in a positive way, nor will it help Baltimore as a whole. It's a dumb idea.

Otherwise though, the casino's parking garage might not be the best thing, but it is a very separate issue. Pratt and Lombard streets aren't the best setups, but they are doing pretty well with the amount of through traffic Baltimore gets. They are certainly better than the alternative, of having the entire harbor paved over with connections for I-70, I-95, and I-83 like was originally planned. Incremental steps, Baltimore is headed (mostly) in the right direction.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 1:29 pm • linkreport

Richard, however I-395 actively goes through the Southwest DC waterfront right on top of the Warf.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

Poor J.C. GGW bustin' on his parking garage. Sugar.

by MattCicle on Apr 15, 2014 1:54 pm • linkreport

@tom: yes, that was supposed to be the first of many such roads, including some additional unbuilt interstates. Baltimore got the JFX, but (mostly) dodged some other bullets. 70 wasn't supposed to just stop weirdly (it would have plowed through the park and then downtown). Have you noticed the big hole in the city where 40 runs just south of Harlem Square Park? That was the plan.

by Mike on Apr 15, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

Well, we are not going to go on and on about existing parking garages as that would not be terribly productive. Generally the discussion is about new or prospective developments. You will notice we've had many many conversations about improving transit around the region and converting surface parking lots to mixed used development which I would suggest you read in the same vein as criticisms of new parking garages. Discussions about lowering parking minimums are also related.

by BTA on Apr 15, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

Mike, they should have finished what they planned. That was beginning of several decades of failed promises that continues to corrupt Baltimore. Funny thing is that the cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston that have double and triple the highway capacity than Baltimore are better off economically and financially than Baltimore ever was.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 2:15 pm • linkreport

Well, we are not going to go on and on about existing parking garages as that would not be terribly productive. Generally the discussion is about new or prospective developments. You will notice we've had many many conversations about improving transit around the region and converting surface parking lots to mixed used development which I would suggest you read in the same vein as criticisms of new parking garages.

And so we can talk about how pointless the Rash field garage is.
Discussing how terrible Pratt and Lombard streets are is fine only if you have a solution, but those two streets are packed for a reason. They aren't usually going at very high speeds though. Seems like urban blvds to me that suffer from too much through traffic.

This article starts out trying to discuss the wrong of adding an expensive parking garage under Rash field and then goes on to how terrible Baltimore is and then makes some very general suggestions that arent supported by the rest of the article.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

BTA, if the agenda is to attract people not only locally but also nationally then parking garages will always be needed for accommodating visitors and tourists.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 2:29 pm • linkreport

Tom, a lot of the Yankee and Philly fans take the train to Baltimore.

by Capt. Hilts on Apr 15, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

@tom: finish what they started? How Robert Moses of you. First of all, Dallas, Atlanta and Houston built freeways that encouraged massive sprawl and they have seen the error of their ways. Second, your statement about these cities being better off economically because of freeway infrastructure simply is not true. San Francisco, for example, led the freeway revolt back in the late 50s/early 60s and stopped nearly a dozen planned projects that would have ripped the city in shreds, recently replaced the central freeway and embarcadero freeway with wide boulevards, and is considering removing part of I-280 to encourage development. I just looked outside my office window and I see a lot of cranes putting up residential and commercial buildings.

Now on to parking garages. If public transit sucks or is inconvenient (holds true in SF too) then people will drive.

by Mark on Apr 15, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

Capt. Hilts, so what. That has nothing to do with people from Maryland Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, Southern Maryland, Richmond, Norfolk/VA Beach, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Atlanta too that drives to Baltimore for multiple events.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

Boston similarly joined the freeway revolt in the 70s and plowed the money into T instead, which turned out to be a fantastic investment... Of course, the revolt didn't happen until AFTER the Central Artery was built. It took $14 billion dollars to undo that mistake.
Knocking down urban neighborhoods to build giant freeways was a fantastically stupid idea which never worked out well.

by alurin on Apr 15, 2014 2:50 pm • linkreport

@Mark True, but the solution isn't to make it easier to drive; it's to dramatically improve the transit so as to make that a much more viable option.

Anyways, I'm taking MARC up for the first time this Saturday. We'll see how it goes.

by LowHeadways on Apr 15, 2014 2:51 pm • linkreport

I go to the Inner Harbor once or twice a month on Saturdays - I'd LOVE to take MARC, but it doesn't start early enough for me. The drive to Baltimore and arriving at around 6:30am isn't bad, but the drive home at 2pm is a BEAST - in downtown Baltimore and also the Capital Beltway. Dreadful!

by Capt. Hilts on Apr 15, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

Boston similarly joined the freeway revolt in the 70s and plowed the money into T instead, which turned out to be a fantastic investment... Of course, the revolt didn't happen until AFTER the Central Artery was built. It took $14 billion dollars to undo that mistake.
Knocking down urban neighborhoods to build giant freeways was a fantastically stupid idea which never worked out well.

Baltimore did the best it could, sparing the inner harbor, Leakin Park, and Gynn Falls Park. Not exactly sure what they did with the money.....

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 2:58 pm • linkreport

alurin, however Boston still have a great North-South and East-West Freeway system and the Big Dig was a very wise investment.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 3:21 pm • linkreport

Richard, "Not exactly sure what they did with the money": Interesting how NC, GA, and VA fast track in building/widening several highways through their cities and rural areas within 25-40 years.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 3:35 pm • linkreport

Tom, I doubt that parking availability is the only factor driving a good economy in large cities. Look at New York City.

by DaveG on Apr 15, 2014 3:37 pm • linkreport

DaveG, New York City has several garages.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 3:44 pm • linkreport

DaveG, also Baltimore is nowhere near New Yield level. The only cities that come close to being New York City like is Chicago, Philly, and Newark.

by tom on Apr 15, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

DaveG, New York City has several garages.

NYC must have like a five or six garages....

Then why Atlanta, Dallas, Houston have more High paying jobs and less crime and corruption than Baltimore.
Not having to pay for heating fuel in winter helps keep cost of living down. Not having the distribution center for the North East drug trade helps keep crime and corruption down. Having the downtown area so small, with the inner suburbs not counted in statistical analysis is what really hurts Baltimore. Baltimore county has a lot of high paying jobs, very low crime, and is in fact Baltimore.

Even with that, Baltimore's violent crime rate is 2% higher than Atlanta's, while the metro area's is much less.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 4:00 pm • linkreport

@tom: The Big Dig was a wise investment because it buried the Central Artery and allowed the city to reclaim all that land and reconnect the North End to the rest of the city.

Boston does have a north/south freeway, which thanks to the Big Dig no longer divides the city, and an east/west toll road (which is slowly being decked over). But luckily it does not have the Inner Belt or the Southwest Expressway.

More importantly, thanks to the freeway revolts, Boston has a lot more heavy rail and a lot less freeway... and it still has the neighborhoods that those freeway projects would have destroyed.

by alurin on Apr 15, 2014 4:00 pm • linkreport

DC failed to complete its promise to build freeways throughout the district; that's why it's economy is in the dump, just like San Francisco's. Detroit, on the other hand, completed all of its freeway obligations; which is why that city is a booming paradise, lacking both crime and corruption. Ditto New Orleans, St. Louis, and Oakland...three cities with freeways up the yin yang, and no discernible problems whatsoever (though New Orleans would be in better shape if it widened some of those streets in the Quarter...traffic down there is a mess!)

If only New York City had built the Lower Manhatten Expressway, it would have been the jewel of America's economy! Instead, that honor goes to Atlanta...a city that could not possibly have been a railroad hub and economic dynamo prior to the arrival of Interstates 20, 75, and 85. I don't know why Sherman burnt it down; there wasn't a parking space worth burning there 'til 1953. Now that it has one of the worst choke points in the interstate highway system, it's finally a city worth destroying.

by Steven H on Apr 15, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

The biggest problems concerning Baltimore downtown and near the Harbor are

Where people are going and where are they coming from; people are coming from areas that are not near Marc, Lightrail, or the Subway so nothing can really be done without building or extending a line.

Getting around most cities suck when you are trying to travel north/south or west/east and there needs to be a fix for that in Baltimore but also many other cities. Many of the current means of getting around in Baltimore require you taking circular routes that take you out of the way.

If it was ever be possible Baltimore needs an extension of the Camden line to Penn Station via tunnel or at the least better connectivity between transit services in the city Marc, Lightrail, and Subway should have unified stations when they are close by and not that so called transfer point that is Lexington Market.

If it was possible I would have the lighrail split after Westport and one line cross Middle Branch over to Federal Hill and on Key Hwy and then Light Street to Calvert Street straight up to Penn Station and if funds were available straight up Greenmont Ave/York Rd

Baltimore has transit going toward Owings Mills now they just need transit going toward White Marsh, Cantonsville/Ellicott City, Back River and both the Camden & Penn should both run everyday.

In the city they need better transit toward the eastern and southeastern portions of the city.

by kk on Apr 15, 2014 5:37 pm • linkreport

More "Let's help the most affluent areas of a city".
Complaining about there being parking?! I don't know anybody who says they can't get around Baltimore because of the few parking lots in the city. IH being the most popular area in town, it has some parking lots. You don't have to worry that parking lots are going up everywhere - it's Baltimore and the economy is not treating all of it very nice.
Baltimore is more than the Inner Harbor. There's plenty of areas need lots more attention.

by asffa on Apr 15, 2014 5:41 pm • linkreport

Trollie McTrollerson Pratt Street often does have a lane or two out, and it doesn't make any things more pleasant. Baltimore, like DC, is always under construction.

by asffa on Apr 15, 2014 5:46 pm • linkreport

Jeff -- great list of suggestions, although kk and others (as always) make good points about transit accessibility etc.

you might be interested in my post about National Mall visitor transportation issues.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-national-mall-focused-heritage.html

2. it's too bad that (1) Urbanite is no longer published and (2) the Baltimore City Paper is now owned by the Sun.

I proposed to Stu Sirota many years ago trying to do a story for the City Paper about Baltimore transit modeled on this very old article in the Philadelphia City Paper.

http://archives.citypaper.net/articles/2005-01-27/cover2.shtml

3. I suggest you go to the City Paper, and find some people with graphic heft and propose a cover story on this issue, Inner Harbor sustainable transportation, as a way to bring more attention to your point.

by Richard Layman on Apr 15, 2014 6:01 pm • linkreport

kk Also being near a Marc doesn't mean the train schedule allows enjoyment of Baltimore's night life, if you like live out in Howard County, which counts for a lot of Baltimore visitors.

by asffa on Apr 15, 2014 6:14 pm • linkreport

Instead of building more garages downtown, I would prefer to see satellite lots as Jeff5 suggests in the article. But instead of building new lots, why not adopt Annapolis' strategy and shuttle people in from the surface parking around the stadiums? They're empty 95% of the time.

It's worth mentioning that the plan referenced was released several months ago and has been reviewed heavily on other sites in the meantime. One of the other centerpieces is a pedestrian bridge across the middle of the harbor, which I think most residents view as a ridiculous idea (but I am probably letting my own feelings seep in too much there).

I'm not sure how realistic this portion of the plan is but it's supported by the fact that the city is already working with the volleyball league that plays at Rash Field to relocate next year: http://southbmore.com/as-baltimore-for-a-rash-field-redevelopment-baltimore-beach-volleyball-prepares-for-their-future/

by MarkT on Apr 15, 2014 6:20 pm • linkreport

" One of the other centerpieces is a pedestrian bridge across the middle of the harbor, which I think most residents view as a ridiculous idea (but I am probably letting my own feelings seep in too much there)."
Wow, that sounds ugly. And makes no sense.

by asffa on Apr 15, 2014 6:28 pm • linkreport

@kk
Where people are going and where are they coming from; people are coming from areas that are not near Marc, Lightrail, or the Subway so nothing can really be done without building or extending a line.

Getting around most cities suck when you are trying to travel north/south or west/east and there needs to be a fix for that in Baltimore but also many other cities. Many of the current means of getting around in Baltimore require you taking circular routes that take you out of the way.

If it was ever be possible Baltimore needs an extension of the Camden line to Penn Station via tunnel or at the least better connectivity between transit services in the city Marc, Lightrail, and Subway should have unified stations when they are close by and not that so called transfer point that is Lexington Market.

If it was possible I would have the lighrail split after Westport and one line cross Middle Branch over to Federal Hill and on Key Hwy and then Light Street to Calvert Street straight up to Penn Station and if funds were available straight up Greenmont Ave/York Rd

Baltimore has transit going toward Owings Mills now they just need transit going toward White Marsh, Cantonsville/Ellicott City, Back River and both the Camden & Penn should both run everyday.

Baltimore's long term plan has the Camden line reclaiming the howard street tunnel up to Mt Royal Station and then east past charle village and then further points east

The red line will have real transfers with the Penn Line, the Blue light rail line, the green metro line(twice I think) and then the Penn Line again.

Also on the plan is a new branch of the yellow light rail which would service downtown, tunneling Charles street I believe.

The green metro line is also slated to be extended to the NE out to white marsh and then hit the Penn line at Martin Airport.

The red line has an extension planned that would serve dundalk.

The Penn line is supposed to get a new station with a transfer to the Green metro line.

The Camden and Penn lines are both supposed to get weekend and late night service.

.....well that is a lot, and who knows when/if it will ever get done. But the city/state is thinking about it.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 7:01 pm • linkreport

Hi. Baltimore resident here (and former DC resident). Richard at 12:18 made this point, but it needs to be reiterated: the Inner Harbor is to Baltimore what the Mall is to DC, roughly.

Baltimore desperately needs more/better transit, but the focus should be on making the hodgepodge of modes work together as a network, for the benefit of those who live and work here. Moving tourists around should be a distant consideration.

by Matt in Highlandtown on Apr 15, 2014 7:08 pm • linkreport

@Steven H

+100

by watcher on Apr 15, 2014 7:20 pm • linkreport

" One of the other centerpieces is a pedestrian bridge across the middle of the harbor, which I think most residents view as a ridiculous idea (but I am probably letting my own feelings seep in too much there)."
Wow, that sounds ugly. And makes no sense.

Actually I think that is the thing with the most support from local residents around the harbor, a cycle track/ped bridge connecting Harbor east with the waterfront promenade and the visionary art museum. Obviously it will have to be a draw/swing bridge to accommodate ships entering the harbor.

I think what most locals fear is that it will be ugly. Knowing how big government projects like this tend to work out, it probably will be ugly.

Still it will reduce the distance between harbor east and the visionary art museum from 8000ft to 1000ft. Walks/bike rides from harbor east/fells point/canton to fed hill and the waterfront by over a mile.

by Richard on Apr 15, 2014 7:21 pm • linkreport

Richard -- the yellow line and subway extensions aren't likely to happen in my professional lifetime. I am 53 years old.

It's why with the blue line, I suggested a re-routing from Falls Road to Lutherville through Towson, although I also suggested subway extensions as well, which as you point out, are planned. But for them to happen, Baltimore County needs to make them a priority and they don't.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2012/05/from-files-transit-planning-in.html

Oh, the one thing I would add is a slight northward extension of the light rail to the office districts in Hunt Valley.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2014/03/mccormick-spices-proposed-consolidation.html

by Richard Layman on Apr 15, 2014 9:16 pm • linkreport

Jeff/Richard -- with regard to the proposed walking-cycle path, I haven't read the 2.0 plan yet, but it doesn't have to be ugly.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a pretty amazing piece of community infrastructure and would be a perfect model. It doesn't work so great for serious bicyclists because it's mostly "on the sidewalk" but it's great for moving from place to place, they connect a bunch of neighborhoods to the downtown, and they have great treatments for street crossings, incorporate public art, etc.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2012/02/purple-line-and-bicycle-trail-conflict.html

by Richard Layman on Apr 15, 2014 9:19 pm • linkreport

Why not run tram shuttles to the museum? A lot of the draw of the IH is that it's pretty.

by asffa on Apr 16, 2014 5:08 am • linkreport

The bridge is the one bright spot in the plan--it would draw people further from the central harbor area by reducing the distance to walk back. It also doesn't have to be ugly. In some places the pedestrian bridge is actually an attraction in itself when done well; the onus is on Baltimore to make sure that what gets built is interesting rather than an eyesore. If it does get built, it will be wildly popular.

by Mike on Apr 16, 2014 7:17 am • linkreport

There's a lot of assumptions made but little fact checking in the article. This includes:

* MARC Camden Line runs on CSX owned tracks. Some research will tell you that in order to increase service on this line, CSX requires the state to put in a third track from Baltimore to DC. Amtrak would need four tracks Perryville to DC for the Penn Line (it's mostly 3 track now).

* The Red Line is one start, but there also needs a few more rail lines (ether LR or subway), namely from southwest to northeast.

Baltimore had a decent trolley system, but basically most of the rail is ether ripped out or paved over. If you want better service to the Inner Harbor, you'll have to expand the bus systems.

Yes, systems. The main service, MTA, is a state agency under MDOT. The city's own service is the Circulator.

by STrRedWolf on Apr 16, 2014 7:54 am • linkreport

IH is different because of museum hours, but much of Baltimore is a post-second shift town for night life, which isn't agreeable with Metro or Marc schedules.
Also, anybody got advice on any way to use public transit to concerts at Ram's Head Live? (and who doesn't want to miss the last songs) Asking for a friend..

by asffa on Apr 16, 2014 9:02 am • linkreport

Isn't MARC expecting to add 1-2 more round trips to the Camden Line this year? It's such an underutilized asset seeing as the terminal is right downtown.

More third track is a must for the Camden Line if they are ever to increase or speed up service.

by Chris on Apr 16, 2014 9:16 am • linkreport

Not really underutilized as most of the traffic goes to DC. Usage is approaching 90% last I checked, so it's nearing capacity.

by STrRedWolf on Apr 16, 2014 10:24 pm • linkreport

Not really underutilized as most of the traffic goes to DC. Usage is approaching 90% last I checked, so it's nearing capacity.

Underutilized as in, if it belonged to the people, for their exclusive use, and had 15minute headways all day and hourly through the night it could really transport a lot of people.

Overall it is fairly well utilized, but most of that goes to a private company, which happens to own it.

Now the rights it has to that ownership come with some civil responsibility. They should allow more passenger trains to utilize it.

by Richard on Apr 17, 2014 1:03 pm • linkreport

Richard - the Marc train stations in Howard County, where a lot of people going to Baltimore come from, aren't necessarily conveniently located anyhow except the one Main Street in Laurel. They aren't within easy walking distance of where most people live and I'm not even sure they all involve good nearby parking lots where you won't be ticketed or towed away.
(Howard County bus system is pretty terrible, btw. so don't look at it in its current form as solution to all. I think its only use is to get to the Columbia Mall. )
I'm not saying more later wouldn't be better.

by asffa on Apr 18, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

I think this article and the comments to follow are spreading a bit of mis-information. It presents the addition of parking to rash field as an above ground structured garage that would be in place of other desired uses. THIS IS NOT TRUE.

The proposed garage would be below ground, with the park being a refreshed upgrade of the existed park above the garage. The garage would be entirely unnoticeable by the park-goers. It's not in-lieu-of, but in-addition-to whatever is designed for the park.

I think the concerns over traffic congestion on pratt and light are valid but this garage would actually help to alleviate not aggravate the issue. That is, currently all of the public parking is on the north side of the harbor cause everyone coming in off of key highway or I-95 to have to circumnavigate the harbor to park. By providing more distributed parking options, you reduce congestion.

With all that said, I will agree that better public transit is as important or more important than these proposed improvements.

by MikeT on Apr 29, 2014 1:28 pm • linkreport

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