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Transportation Alliance eBlast June 2012
By: Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
June 2012 eBlast
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
With relatively little additional funding for operations, service on the MARC commuter rail system can be increased to greatly expand transit service to major employment hubs and support and be a catalyst for private investment in Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).
While Governor O'Malley is to be applauded for continuing to focus on smart growth in order to limit sprawl and continued negative impacts on the environment and the Chesapeake Bay, the state's own TOD program is challenged by the fact that, at many stations, there is not enough transit to support private investment in true TOD. The Transportation Alliance has been aggressively advocating for additional funding to expand MARC service through our "Let's Get to Work" initiative. Phase I of the initiative has identified the capacity to add service on the MARC at relatively little cost. (see Phase I Recommendations
). Additional service, including weekends, late night, and mid-day express, will enhance the viability of the TOD projects at MARC stations as well as expand access to employment centers and other destinations such as BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
A number of elements must come together in one place for TOD to occur (see sidebar). In the Baltimore/Washington Region, the best examples of TOD projects either completed or underway are found at several DC Metro stations, including Wisconsin Place in Chevy Chase, downtown Wheaton and Twinbrook Station in Rockville. Case Study - White Flint TOD
This month, the State Board of Public Works approved the sale of State property to a private company to support TOD at the White Flint Metro Station in Montgomery County. This latest addition to the State's TOD Designation program will result in 3.4 million square feet of office, retail and residential development within walking distance to the White Flint Metro Station. This project will add to the already significant private investment and development that has been completed or is underway by companies including B.F. Saul, JBG, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Holladay, and Lerner Enterprises/The Tower Companies. These businesses are part of the White Flint Partnership, an organization created in 2008 that has been working with the community and the Montgomery County Government to create a new vision for the Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue corridor that will result in a walkable, mixed-use community served by the existing Metro station and a future Rapid Transit Vehicle (RTV) system.TOD in the Baltimore/Washington Corridor
There is also great potential for TOD in the corridor between Washington and Baltimore, but it cannot be realized without improving service on MARC.
The MARC system is the only existing rapid transit system connecting the Baltimore Region and Washington, D.C. Consequently, while it is challenging to create true TOD projects served by commuter rail, there are reasons why we need to look at the MARC system as a TOD corridor:
1. It will be years (8-10) before the corridor will realize any new fixed-route transportation system (Purple Line, Red Line, RTV).
2. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has already designated several MARC stations as TODs, including Aberdeen, Savage, Laurel, Odenton, and New Carrollton.
3. The job growth in the corridor can support TOD development as long as some basic criteria are met:
a) Increase transit service to address mixed-use developments, i.e. beyond
M-F peak commuting times
• Weekend service
• Late night service
• Mid-day off peak service (Camden and Brunswick lines in particular)
• Shorter headways, particularly during peak hours
b) Ensure pedestrian and/or shuttle access from development to transit
c) Ensure connectivity from transit stations to job centers and other
destinations, e.g. retail, colleges, health care, etc.
In addition, MARC has some unique qualities as a commuter rail system:
1. MARC serves two major destination metro areas within 40 miles of each other.
2. The stations between Baltimore and Washington are closer together than is typical for commuter rail in the U.S.
3. MARC already functions as part of a regional transportation system by connecting with the DC metro in several locations, e.g. New Carrollton, Greenbelt, Union Station, and MetroGrove, and the Baltimore regional rail system, e.g. at Penn Station and Camden Station. MARC will connect to future transit routes including the Red Line, the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway in Montgomery County.
Funding for statewide transportation projects continues to go begging even after a special legislative session was held to approve an income tax increase with none of the additional revenue targeted for the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). And there has yet to be any indication from Maryland's elected officials that funding for transportation will be addressed at a second special session being contemplated to consider approval of expanded gaming. Meanwhile, Congress has not renewed the transportation authorization law that expired in 2009. The inaction on the part of Maryland and the federal government is discussed in the Transportation Alliance's April eblast
and in an article
by Donald Fry, CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.
However, we can improve the ability of workers to access major employment centers and support TOD at a number of stations in the corridor between Baltimore and Washington by making relatively low-cost improvements to MARC service in the next five years.
Add your support for increased funding for MARC service by clicking here and signing our Declaration.
Sidebar:Planning for Transit-Oriented Development
In an ideal world, planning for Transit-Oriented Development occurs simultaneously with the planning for a new or expanded transit corridor. While many of the criteria that will increase the success of any TOD - including the ability to attract private investment - may be unique to any given location, there are some basic elements that are applicable to most true TOD projects. These include:
1. Planning for TOD coincides with planning of new fixed-route transit line (rail, bus, rapid transit)
2. TOD is within 1/2 mile of the station
3. Zoning allows for dense mixed-use, mixed-income development
4. Transit station provides access to major employment centers and other destinations
5. Transit line is part of a network of transportation modalities to insure "connectivity"
6. Frequency of service supports needs of mixed-use community (residential, retail and office)
7. Frequency of service and density of development provide a catalyst for private sector investment
8. Local government and private sector are primary participants and stakeholders in the TOD planning/approval process