Faster, easier, more reliable transit trips, stronger multi-modal connections and safer pedestrian access planned to enhance access to services, jobs, and schools is what was proposed. However, does the community feel these changes are better?
(BALTIMORE – September 19, 2022) – Originally published on November 17, 2021, a directive was shared with the public regarding coming changes to the way we get around. Technically, it’s transportation.
Last Wednesday, a meeting was held at St. James Episcopal Church on Lafayette Avenue between the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and the Historic West Baltimore communities of Harlem Park, Sandtown, and Upton regarding proposed changes to Fremont Avenue. This is the first in-person meeting. A zoom meeting was held a year ago.
To say the least, the community was not enthused by what was shared. Representatives from the City tossed around terms like “Best Practices” and “traffic calming” without ever taking the time to properly connect with the community. Taking 10 hours of video of an intersection is not effective community engagement.
Further, given the effects of changes already made on North Avenue near Mt. Royal and I-83, the community is not at all convinced that the proposed changes for Fremont Avenue, including sidewalk expansion that would remove parking spaces, are good for those who live in the area.
During weekdays around rush hour, the eastbound traffic on North Avenue towards Mt. Royal comes to a bottleneck.
“I’m there often,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham. “And I try to find a way to get around going on North Avenue because of what they’ve done there.”
In any event, this is the original press release from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott last fall on the $50 million investment:
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT) today announced a partnership to facilitate faster and more reliable transit trips and strengthen multi-modal connections along an east-west corridor that runs from the Fox Ridge community in eastern Baltimore County through downtown Baltimore to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in western Baltimore County. The $50 million project will be funded by a $22 million grant from the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) 2021 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, as well as an $18 million investment from the Maryland Department of Transportation and $10 million from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.
“I want to thank USDOT for the award and for seeing how this project will benefit the citizens of Baltimore, and thank our Congressional Delegation and Baltimore City for the continued partnership. Today’s announcement highlights how great partnerships and collaboration can advance our shared vision,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Greg Slater. “By delivering more than 10 lane miles of dedicated bus lanes, real-time signage, upgraded bus shelters, and enhanced pedestrian and bicycle safety, this project will improve access to jobs, health care, and education for city residents.”
The East-West Priority Corridor project is a multi-modal transportation enhancement that will add transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure along the 10-mile route currently served by the CityLink Blue and Orange. These bus routes connect several residential communities and key employment centers including the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the central business district of downtown Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. With these employment hubs there are more than 180,000 jobs along the corridor.
“Thanks to the leadership of our federal partners for funding the RAISE grant, the East-West Priority Corridor project will further efforts to improve safety and accessibility, and facilitate faster and more reliable transit for Baltimoreans,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This comprehensive effort aligns with my administration’s commitment to strengthening transportation infrastructure, creating jobs, and building a more equitable Baltimore.”
The East-West Priority Corridor Project would shorten transit commute times and improve transit reliability with infrastructure enhancements, including dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority (TSP). Since first implemented in 2017, dedicated bus lanes and TSP have demonstrated significant time savings for MDOT MTA riders.
“We know many residents in the east-west corridor and other parts of the city lack access to cars, so it’s even more crucial that the transit we provide gets people to essential services, jobs, educational centers, and health care facilities quickly and reliably,” said MDOT MTA Administrator Holly Arnold. “These enhancements will positively impact the quality of life for residents.”
Among the infrastructure improvements planned are:
- At least 10 lane miles of dedicated bus lanes,
- Transit signal priority implementation along Edmondson Avenue, Fayette Street and Eastern Avenue
- ADA access improvements, real-time signage, bus shelters, benches, trash cans and bio-retention facilities at over 100 bus stops
- Enhancements to pedestrian and bike safety, including crosswalks, curb extensions, ADA curb ramps, signal upgrades at select intersections, and a 1.5-mile on-street buffered bicycle lane
“The Department of Transportation is fully committed to enhancing multi-modal connections that help to advance equity and sustainability in Baltimore City, and we thank our federal partners for funding this RAISE grant which will allow us to implement significant changes along this critical corridor, ” said Baltimore City Department of Transportation Director Steve Sharkey. “We are proud to partner with MDOT on the East-West Priority Corridor project that will utilize design strategies from our Complete Streets Manual to facilitate better transit service, improved ADA accessibility, and safer walkways for pedestrians.”
The East-West Priority Corridor Project leverages the success of MDOT MTA in bringing federal, state, and city funding together to enhance urban transit options. Neighborhood enhancements resulting from the current North Avenue Rising Revitalization Project have shown the power a transit agency can have to effect significant change by fostering collaboration between government agencies. MDOT’s investment of $14.7 million in North Avenue Rising, along with funding from Baltimore City, helped secure $10 million in a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to implement a variety of permanent improvements to the streets, neighborhoods, and transit options along the entire North Avenue corridor.