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http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-growth1017,0,2153661.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout

Gotta love the editorializing by the woefully uninformed reporter there, don't you?

But seriously, these results are encouraging, although I would like to see the wording of the questions because something tells me they might have been a bit leading. The question it leaves me with, however, is whether the respondents actually favor smart growth or no growth. I wonder if they were asked how they would feel about, say, increasing residential densities around train station or reducing/charging for parking. What if they were given a choice between locating an affordable apartment building on an underutilized lot in their established neighborhood or in the middle of a farm field? It's nice that people don't like sprawl, but what's their motivation for not liking it (is it really the environmental degradation, bad traffic, and fugly urban form or do they just want to keep the black people out of Carroll County) and how much are they willing to sacrifice to combat sprawl. Moving a little road funding into transit projects isn't going to do the trick on its own.

Everyone I know in the suburbs wants suburban growth to stop. It's out of control in a lot of areas. But no one wants to make any of the hard decisions that are required to get us back on the right track. To them, sprawl is bad but the solutions are worse.

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Everyone I know in the suburbs wants suburban growth to stop. It's out of control in a lot of areas.

I think it works like this: everybody wants it to stop... right after *they* get there... if it was an island, they'd all say "blow up the bridge... right after *I* cross it..."

But no one wants to make any of the hard decisions that are required to get us back on the right track. To them, sprawl is bad but the solutions are worse.

I think a big part of it is that all the costs of sprawl are spread out everywhere... it costs a bunch, but in a million different ways... it never shows up in any one place as "the sprawl budget"... but if you're gonna do something else, then you're up against that invisible sprawl budget, and while a good transit system might be cheaper, once you count everything, a good transit system shows up in the paper with headlines about "127 whomptillion dollars"...

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Everyone I know in the suburbs wants suburban growth to stop. It's out of control in a lot of areas.

I think it works like this: everybody wants it to stop... right after *they* get there... if it was an island, and you had to cross a bridge to get on the island, they'd all say "blow up the bridge... right after *I* cross it..."

But no one wants to make any of the hard decisions that are required to get us back on the right track. To them, sprawl is bad but the solutions are worse.

I think a big part of it is that all the costs of sprawl are spread out everywhere... it costs a bunch, but in a million different ways... it never shows up in any one place as "the sprawl budget"... but if you're gonna do something else, then you're up against that invisible sprawl budget, and while a good transit system might be cheaper once you count everything, a good transit system shows up in the paper with headlines about "127 whomptillion dollars"...

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Dundalk?!

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_county/bal-md.co.dundalk24oct24,0,7672683.story?page=1&track=rss

A few comments on this...

I have long thought the old village center in original Dundalk was a gold mine. I'm mostly glad someone finally did something with it, however I would really like to know what they did with the Section 8 tenants. A truly forward thinking County government would have required some affordable housing on site. What better place is there than a town center with various retail and service businesses in walking distance and better than average bus service for the suburban working poor to live? That was a truly brilliant idea to kick them all out to make room for the yuppies who may or may not come in the numbers they're hoping for.

My other bone of contention with this, to a much lesser degree, is the marketing. Places like that don't need to compete with Canton, they need to be competing with suburban sprawl to try to get the 20 and 30 somethings who don't want to live in cities to settle into somewhat sustainable development patterns instead of a neverending stream of low-density greenfields developments. Telling those people it's just as hip as Canton isn't going to do anything to ease our overdevelopment problems in the suburbs. I guess from a marketing perspective, they have decided that the Cantonites are more likely to venture out of their preferred enclave than, say, the folks who inhabit the sea of apartments and condos around White Marsh Mall (sorry folks, it's still a mall, not a "towne centre"), but to me it seems like Dundalk has more to offer those people... a little bit of excitement and convenience without the density of the city. To the Cantonites, all it offers is a cheaper price. It may get them in, but as soon as they get a raise at work they're probably going right back where they came from. The suburban folks might actually be more prone to stick around.

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I have long thought the old village center in original Dundalk was a gold mine. I'm mostly glad someone finally did something with it, however I would really like to know what they did with the Section 8 tenants. A truly forward thinking County government would have required some affordable housing on site.

I have thought the same thing about a lot of the "main street" areas in the close-in Baltimore County suburbs, including Dundalk. Especially when they started building fake main streets in White Marsh, Owings Mills, Hunt Valley, etc.

Agree about the affordable housing. This place isn't going to be Canton right away.

Speaking of forward thinking, how great would it be to have a state or even a city-county regional partnership that realized the value of areas like Dundalk and linked them up to rail transit at a pace faster than that of a snail? :rolleyes:

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Speaking of forward thinking, how great would it be to have a state or even a city-county regional partnership that realized the value of areas like Dundalk and linked them up to rail transit at a pace faster than that of a snail? :rolleyes:

I've also thought for a long time that the old Eastern/Dundalk Avenue streetcar that took workers from Highlandtown to Sparrows Point would be a very good first one to bring back. It could be buried east of Patterson park and linked up with the new Red Line eventually, but first they could just refurbish the old trolley tracks that are still in the street most of the way (at least they were a few years ago) and I think they would get decent ridership pretty quickly.

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I've also thought for a long time that the old Eastern/Dundalk Avenue streetcar that took workers from Highlandtown to Sparrows Point would be a very good first one to bring back. It could be buried east of Patterson park and linked up with the new Red Line eventually, but first they could just refurbish the old trolley tracks that are still in the street most of the way (at least they were a few years ago) and I think they would get decent ridership pretty quickly.

That's a good idea since they basically decided to end the current study iteration of the Red Line at Canton rather than going all the way east to Dundalk and Sparrows Point like the master plan called for.

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That's a good idea since they basically decided to end the current study iteration of the Red Line at Canton rather than going all the way east to Dundalk and Sparrows Point like the master plan called for.

I think a two-branch approach to the Red Line would be ideal. The branch down Boston Street could get Fells Point and Canton, the Eastern Ave branch could go across Highlandtown and then down to Dundalk. That way, you have double the trains running downtown that you do out in the suburban locations. It's cynical to say this, but the two branches would also probably make transit more palatable to some of the richer Cantonites if it ended out Boston Street because then the train they'd be riding home on late at night when it's almost empty would be exclusive to the more affluent area. Eventually, you could also add a third branch that runs straight out Eastern Avenue/Eastern Blvd to Essex, thereby helping revitalize the main street area out there.

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I think a two-branch approach to the Red Line would be ideal. The branch down Boston Street could get Fells Point and Canton, the Eastern Ave branch could go across Highlandtown and then down to Dundalk. That way, you have double the trains running downtown that you do out in the suburban locations. It's cynical to say this, but the two branches would also probably make transit more palatable to some of the richer Cantonites if it ended out Boston Street because then the train they'd be riding home on late at night when it's almost empty would be exclusive to the more affluent area. Eventually, you could also add a third branch that runs straight out Eastern Avenue/Eastern Blvd to Essex, thereby helping revitalize the main street area out there.

I'm cool with having two branches, just saying they are only studying the one branch right now, which means that with the way they're going, the second branch won't even be considered until 2035. Which seems insane.

Sorry, the more I think about this stuff the more cynical I get. ;)

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I'm cool with having two branches, just saying they are only studying the one branch right now, which means that with the way they're going, the second branch won't even be considered until 2035. Which seems insane.

Sorry, the more I think about this stuff the more cynical I get. ;)

That's alright. I was born in the "extremely cynical" category and now that I've lived nearly 30 years, gone to planning school, and worked as a planner for a while I'm way off the charts. I basically never believe anything good is going to happen until I see it, in planning or anywhere else. Having that attitude is kind of nice when you get to see the occasional thing done right and get all excited about it though. ;)

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2009 Maryland Transportation Plan Survey

Help Shape Maryland's Transportation Future!

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is updating its Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan, known as the Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP). What are your thoughts about the future of Maryland's Statewide transportation system?

We encourage you to take 10 minutes to complete this survey. The answers you provide below will be used to shape the State's 20-year vision for transportation in Maryland.

http://www.hshassoc.com/MDOT/takesurvey.html

I took it, its really less then 10 minutes. I recommend all the public transit advocates here check it out, if you haven't already.

I think it works like this: everybody wants it to stop... right after *they* get there... if it was an island, and you had to cross a bridge to get on the island, they'd all say "blow up the bridge... right after *I* cross it..."

Speak for thyself. I've already got a couple of American cities on the list as possible post-grad living destinations. I'd probably become an ex-pat before moving into the burbs.

Oh yeah, links on the first page updated. If anyone has any recommendations, shout 'em out and I'll update. It'd be nice to have one big, organized resource here for any interested so the information is out there.

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Sorry for the double post, everyone, but I found a couple of good articles that shed a lot of light into the relation between public transit and federal funding.

While this first article is from Jan. 2006, it is still quite germane to the issues at hand.

Also, the numbers given in this article (ridership of the subway, Fed requirements) are kosher and line-up with what I was told by various MTA departments, engineering in particular. Note the lack of vision (ie, in terms of expading Baltimore's population and encouraging usage of a potentially developed heavy rail system by county folk) by both the state and Feds, and total skepticism as to Fed support from the MTA's corner.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4183/is_20060113/ai_n16009985

New subway back in play in Baltimore?

Daily Record, The (Baltimore), Jan 13, 2006 by DORI BERMAN

A heavy rail subway would be the ideal way to connect east and west Baltimore City, Maryland's top transportation official readily admits.Nevertheless, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan decided to exclude the option from an in-depth study, angering some community groups.The reason: Flanagan concluded that the ideal didn't stand much of a chance of becoming real because of cost.

But now, some three years after Flanagan decided to consider only light rail and buses for the so-called Red Line, at least one state legislator hopes to pass a bill that would require the study to include heavy rail to ensure the most comprehensive study possible before breaking ground on a major transportation project.Flanagan questioned the motives of that legislation and warns its passage would only prolong the study, and therefore delay a project widely considered necessary for Baltimore's continued healthy growth.

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Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010.Ideally, we would all like a subway line. And we'd like more and more subway lines if money was no object, Flanagan said in a recent interview. But clearly, money is an issue. Even the federal government has a limited budget. It's an impossible dream.A project the size of the proposed 10-mile transit line will require federal funding in addition to a significant state contribution. The problem with heavy rail, Flanagan explained, is that securing federal funding for new heavy rail projects is nearly impossible.Cities like Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco are not studying heavy rail for new lines, Flanagan said, noting heavy rail projects currently receiving federal funding are extensions of existing heavy rail transit lines.The estimated cost of a subway line, heavy rail, is between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion. A project would typically need to have a daily ridership of between 130,000 and 150,000 trips per day to compete nationally for funding. The best comparison our staff could give me was the existing subway line, which has 45,000 trips per day. So, even if you, for the sheer sake of argument, double that, you would be far short.

Some community advocates argue that the Department of Transportation has not shown a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed modes.They said 'we're taking heavy rail off the table because it's too expensive,' except that they've presented no basis for that claim, said Ed Cohen, a transit rider and president of the Transit Riders Action Council of Metropolitan Baltimore.Cohen said his group formed about a year ago to address issues concerning the Red Line and other forms of transit in Baltimore. Cohen says heavy rail, which requires a third rail and has to run at a level different from the street, is safer, more reliable and would attract more riders.A subway line also would appease some merchants in downtown Baltimore who have expressed concerns that a light rail, or a bus rapid transit system that requires a dedicated lane, would hurt their businesses. With those concerns in mind, Sen. Verna Jones, a Baltimore Democrat, has announced her intentions to introduce legislation to do a comprehensive study, to study all modes for the Red Line.

Flanagan warns, however, that if such legislation were to pass this year, it would add two years to the study's timeline and increase the study's cost by $2 million to $3 million. He also sounded skeptical about Jones' timing.I discussed this with the senators and delegates from Baltimore City and the Baltimore metro area shortly after taking office in 2003, Flanagan said. This was fully aired and discussed, and should have been understood. They had plenty of opportunity to make demands, no matter how misguided, for the study of heavy rail back in the 2003 legislative session, the 2004 legislation session. There was nothing in the 2005 session. And now we're in an election year session and we get a bill. It does seem a rather odd way to represent their constituents.Some legislators, however, have questioned Flanagan's decision to not include heavy rail in the study from the beginning.Del. Keith E. Haynes, a Baltimore City Democrat, said the community has some legitimate concerns. Rapid buses are buses, and light rails are trolleys, he said.

Haynes noted both modes could potentially make congestion worse in the downtown area.What we are looking for is a system that works for Baltimore. If that means perhaps looking at heavy rail, but maybe a reduced route, something that can be continually built upon, we would like to look at that option, he said. It's about getting it right the first time, as something you can add on to.Not all heavy rail enthusiasts agree, however, that a reduced route is an attractive option. Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said his organization strongly supports a heavy rail line for the east-west corridor. The Greater Baltimore Committee has been the region's leading advocate for an enhanced transit system.Fry acknowledged Flanagan's cost concerns, but said he believes heavy rail should have been a part of the study from the beginning.If this bill passes, we'd like to see the [Maryland Transit Administration] make a good faith effort to look at heavy rail, he said. But one thing we would be very concerned about, we would not want any further study of heavy rail to delay the existing study, and ultimately delay the project timetable.With the rapid growth occurring in the region, Fry expressed concerns that any delay would leave the Baltimore area gridlocked by congestion.Fry said if the bill passes, his organization will try to encourage the transit administration to expedite the study.

Still, Flanagan noted political pressure to study heavy rail could be misguided.It's easy from a politician's point of view to say 'study heavy rail' because that makes people happy. It focuses their attention on a dream alternative, even though at the end of the day the dream does not come true, Flanagan said. The whole point of looking at alternatives is for people to look at the realistic alternatives and help us decide those policy decisions that will impact their lives.

Copyright 2006 Dolan Media Newswires

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/26/AR2007082601189.html

Rail Projects at the Mercy of U.S. Agency

Federal Guidelines, and Funds, Direct Plans for Dulles, Purple Lines at Every Step

By Katherine Shaver and Amy Gardner

Washington Post Staff Writers

Monday, August 27, 2007; Page B01

The key decisions about Maryland's proposed Purple Line -- the route it takes, the type of rail cars it uses, the possibility of tunneling underground -- will be determined not by public opinion or political pressure.

Rather, a single agency that controls the limited federal money set aside for transit projects will shape the rail or bus line that could eventually link Bethesda and New Carrollton.

Plans to extend rail lines throughout Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland have been in the works for decades. Construction of the Silver Line is expected to begin this fall. The Purple Line is still being studied.

The Federal Transit Administration, which helped sink plans for a tunnel through Tysons Corner and is demanding further cost accounting for the proposed Metro line through Dulles International Airport, will likewise dictate what any new transit line through suburban Maryland would look like and when -- or whether -- there will be money to build it.

"It's the driving force behind the planning process," Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said of the competition for federal money. "You can have the best conceived transit project in the world, and it's not going forward if it doesn't qualify for federal funding."

Toward that end, Porcari delayed consideration of the Purple Line for another year after deciding that the rider estimates were too crude to impress the federal officials in charge of doling out critical funding. Analysts are now recalculating ridership predictions using more sophisticated forecasting models.

Concerns about federal guidelines also led local officials to quickly rule out heavy rail -- the type of trains used on Metro -- in favor of slower, but far cheaper, light-rail trains or express buses. State officials have also rejected calls to run the line under the popular Capital Crescent Trail, saying it would be too expensive without saving travel time -- another effort to satisfy federal criteria.

The concessions show just how focused planners are on pleasing officials at the federal agency. The Purple Line is estimated to cost as much as $1.6 billion, an amount state officials say they can't afford without federal help.

Unlike federal highway funds, which states receive based on a formula and may spend as they wish, money for new transit projects is awarded at the discretion of the FTA. The agency doesn't have much to dole out. The FTA has proposed spending about $1.4 billion on new transit projects next fiscal year, compared with $42 billion that states will receive for highway maintenance and construction, according to federal figures. More than 100 transit projects across the country are expected to compete for federal money in coming years, according to a federal report.

In deciding which projects deserve funds, FTA officials consider primarily which would attract enough riders and save them enough time to be worth the investment. They also consider the state and local governments' ability to help pay for construction, maintenance and operating costs. Other considerations include impact on air quality, development around stations and the ability to move lower-income workers to jobs.

FTA evaluations can take years, because it rates a project -- and grants permission for it to move forward -- at several different points, controlling it from preliminary engineering through construction. The process has grown so complicated and time-consuming that, across the country, many local officials have begun to forgo federal money if they can secure enough local or private funds to build a project, according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

"There's less money, there's tighter standards, and it's a long, long haul," said U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), one of the key leaders in securing federal money for the Dulles rail project.

Fearing they would jeopardize their $900 million in federal dollars, Virginia officials reluctantly dropped plans for a train tunnel beneath Tysons Corner this year. And although contractors expect to move dirt this fall on what would become Metro's 23-mile Silver Line, transportation planners are scrambling to trim $275 million out of the budget to satisfy federal funding standards.

...

The federal budget for transit projects--relative to the amount of transit projects going on nation-wide and compared to the amount given to highways--is simply sad. But of course, there is plenty of money for Iraq. :rolleyes:

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The federal budget for transit projects--relative to the amount of transit projects going on nation-wide and compared to the amount given to highways--is simply sad. But of course, there is plenty of money for Iraq. :rolleyes:

Actually, there's NO money for Iraq. That [email protected]!#* is being bought on credit. The way the administration figures it, the people who will eventually pay for it haven't left Mexico yet...:mad:

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Politics, guys.

Anyway, I took the survey posted above and expressed my views supporting expanded public transit.

So, we'll soon have more proof no one listens to me :P

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Actually, there's NO money for Iraq. That [email protected]!#* is being bought on credit. The way the administration figures it, the people who will eventually pay for it haven't left Mexico yet...:mad:

Exactly. And BT, "no politics" means no arguments about political OPINIONS. Stating that the Iraq War is being funded on credit - i.e. on the backs of people like you and me, too young to have created the policy - is indisputable.

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