Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Purple Line moves forward

Light rail in Minneapolis.  Flickr photo by Nick Benson.

Various media outlets report today that some of the legal limbo that held up moving forward on the Purple Line has ended ("Federal court ruling enables Purple Line to move ahead," WBAL-TV).

The ruling keeps a separate lawsuit fighting the project overall in play, while approving the environmental impact findings that had been approved earlier, rather than requiring a new environmental impact study taking into account degradation of the quality of the Metrorail system and the concomitant drop in ridership.

Rather than write a big long new post, it's an excuse to call attention to previously written pieces on the subject:

1.  With the Purple Line, Prince George's County has been given a second chance to reposition its land use planning and development paradigm around transit connectivity, which it didn't do with the Metrorail.

-- "The future of mixed use development/urbanization: Part 3, Prince George's County, where's the there?," 2011
-- "A recommended new planning direction for Prince George's County," 2011
-- "Another lesson that Prince George's County has a three to five year window to reposition based on visionary transportation planning," 2011
-- "Frustration #3: the talk about transit oriented development and Prince George's County," 2013

2.  At this time, the Purple Line is as close as we're going to get to a Crossrail-type project, but even though it's nothing like the scale of projects in London and Paris, it does have the ability to strengthen significantly the fixed rail transit network in Metropolitan Washington--which is why some of the reasoning in the early holdings on the lawsuit was misguided.

-- "Maybe the Purple Line light rail project in Suburban Maryland is a lot bigger deal than is recognized (It's our Crossrail)," 2016

3.  The Purple Line ought to be seized as an opportunity to drive other complementary changes across the transit network, to make the Purple Line more successful from the outset, and to improve significantly the transit network.

-- "Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 2 | proposed parallel improvements across the transit network," 2017

This piece lists 19 items to improve the existing transit network, leveraging the development of the Purple Line as a way to do so:
  • Change the WMATA Metrorail map so that it includes the Purple Line and regional railroad services
  • Integrate the Purple Line light rail line into the Metrorail fare system
  • Integrate MARC fares into the SmarTrip/ CharmCard fare media system
  • Introduce bi-directional passenger rail service between DC and Frederick on the MARC Brunswick Line
  • Consider charging DC-Montgomery County trips on a bi-directional Brunswick Line using the Metrorail/Purple Line tolling/fare schedule. That would treat mileage from railroad trips in the context of a complete (linked) trip on railroad+subway+light rail as a single fare
  • The White Flint Sector Plan calls for an infill MARC station. Plans to build that station should be accelerated as part of this proposal
  • Provide integrated train arrival information screens at Metrorail, Light Rail, and MARC stations
  • Provide integrated bus arrival and departure information screens at Metrorail, Light Rail, and MARC stations
  • Bus service in certain corridors between DC and Maryland should be extended and/or frequency increased to better link these areas to the new light rail service
  • Montgomery County bus system improvements with the launch of the Purple Line and bi-directional service on the MARC Brunswick Line should include launch of planned Bus Rapid Transit services
  • Rearticulate, rebrand, and reposition-extend the Prince George's County TheBus bus transit service. Change the name of the service and the graphic design of the bus livery
  • Consider a redesign and rebranding of the metropolitan area's bus systems into an integrated framework, comparable to that of GoTransit in the Raleigh-Durham area
  • Set the opening of the Purple Line as the deadline for the integration of the MARC Penn Line and VRE Fredericksburg Line into one combined railroad passenger service
  • Set the opening of the Purple Line as the deadline for the implementation of a full-fledged integrated Night Owl bus network for the DC metropolitan area
  • Create a cheap weekend pass to use the local transit network, especially Metrorail
  • Incorporate quantum improvements in bicycle facilities across the mobility network in association with the launch of the Purple Line
  • Rearticulate transportation demand management programming and services in conjunction with the PL launch, including a single network of "customer information centers"
  • WMATA should upgrade its Metrorail station bus shelters
  • Create "sustainable mobility" corridors in Silver Spring (and other places), complementing the new PL.
4.  To accomplish the various local economic and equity development goals and objectives stated by various groups, stakeholders, and elected officials, Montgomery and Prince George's County need to create a bi-county development authority.

-- "Purple line planning in suburban Maryland as an opportunity to integrate place and people focused initiatives into delivery of new transit systems," 2014
-- "Quick follow up to the Purple Line piece about creating a Transportation Renewal District and selling bonds to fund equitable development," 2014
-- "To build the Purple Line, perhaps Montgomery and Prince George's Counties will have to create a "Transportation Renewal District" and Development Authority," 2015

5. The Purple Line affords the opportunity for Montgomery and Prince George's County to rethink their brand and identity as it relates to "design."

-- "Using the Purple Line to rebrand Montgomery and Prince George's Counties as Design Forward," 2017

6.  The Purple Line is an opportunity to reposition Silver Spring for Montgomery County and New Carrollton Maryland for Prince George's County.

Silver Spring:

Fenton Street, East-West Highway, and Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, as building blocks for a Silver Spring "Sustainable Mobility District"
-- "
Part 1: Setting the stage"
-- "Part 2: Program items 1- 9"
-- "Part 3: Program items 10-18"
-- "Part 4: Conclusion

New Carrollton:

-- "Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown"," 2017 (an update of a piece from 2014)

While it seems crazy, I think that steps for planning extensions to the Purple Line on either end should get underway also.

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