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Corridor Cities Controversy

Ideal transit station surroundings, according to the MTA

Supporters of the Corridor Cities Transitway, a proposed BRT or light rail line running north from Shady Grove Metro through Gaithersburg and ending in Clarksburg, say the project enjoys such widespread support that the lack of controversy has kept it out of the sight and mind of Maryland officials, whose time and money is taken up by more contentious projects such as the ICC and Purple Line. State Del. Jean B. Cryor goes so far as to say that she once suggested supporters “hire some people who opposed us to create some controversy”.

You want a Corridor Cities Controversy? BeyondDC has got one for you: Bad planning. Considering the mess that is planning in Clarksburg, we’re surprised locals haven’t thought of this on their own, but the fact of the matter is the Corridor Cities Transitway is such a horribly planned line that it leads one to wonder if those in charge of its planning have slept through all the lessons learned about transit over the past generation.

Even if one accepts that the best place to spend transit dollars is in relatively new suburban areas, some of which can still be called nearly rural, the decision-making behind proposed Transitway station locations is downright obsolete. Every transit planner in the country worth his paycheck knows that the most successful transit systems are those that are focused around urban, pedestrian friendly nodes, of which upper Montgomery County – one of New Urbanism’s hottest beds – has several. Correctly planned, the Transitway would be a string of pearls connecting some of the finest suburban attempts at city-building in America.

But what’s the reality? The planned route bypasses the walkable part of the Washingtonian Center completely, skirts the edge of Crown Farm, bypasses Kentlands and Lakelands, and ends just short of Clarksburg Town Center. The route does, however, make several laboriously slow stops at office campus locations surrounded by nothing but parking lots that no one will ever walk to or from.

What could possibly be the thought process behind this seemingly backwards planning that ignores mixed-use, dense, transit-friendly destinations in order to serve office parks that only a handful of commuters might use and which are easy to drive to anyway?

I’ll let Rick J. Kiegel, a consultant assisting the Maryland Transit Administration in managing the project, explain: “We looked at transit centers that could provide large scale parking”.

Whether they don’t know, have forgotten, or simply don’t care, Transitway decision makers want to build a line that ignores every lesson from the past generation about what makes transit successful. In other words, they want to build a transit system doomed to failure (scroll down, see entry titled “Train in Vain”).

If that’s not controversy, we don’t know what is.

September 27th, 2006 | Permalink
Tags: government, transportation



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