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Red Line design seeks to link, not split community

Architects laid out proposals for the design of the section of the Red Line that runs along Edmondson Avenue in West Baltimore at Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel.

Werner Mueller of AECOM explains the design of the proposed Red Line platforms to the Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel members. (Josh Cooper/The Daily Record)

The plans would eliminate the median on Edmondson Avenue between Cooks Lane and North Franklintown Road, and it would reduce the number of lanes from three in each direction to two.

AECOM, the Los Angeles-based firm contracted to design the Red Line facilities, unveiled sketches of the project Thursday, saying it would provide connectivity in the community.

“It’s key that it doesn’t become a barrier, but a link to the community,” said William Gallagher Jr., principal at KGP Design Studio, of Washington, a design consultant on the project.

The proposal included the design of the stations, which feature low, 18-foot-wide platforms and large glass canopies 10 feet above the platforms.

Werner Mueller, director of design at AECOM, said the station design would give the Red Line a cohesive look.

“The key objective for the platforms is to meet the needs and functional requirements of the passenger, but also to establish … architectural consistency throughout the system,” Mueller said. “It all starts to speak a language, a strong language, that says, ‘This is a light rail station.'”

Along with the stations themselves, the plan calls for the creation of wider stamped asphalt crosswalks and pedestrian lighting along the outer sidewalks of Edmondson Avenue.

“We’re trying to create a definition to the pedestrian areas. We want the pedestrians to feel safe,” said Courtney Tarr, designer with KGP Design Studio.

The proposal for running the Red Line through Edmondson Avenue, a stretch of road that in 2012 carried an average daily vehicular volume of more than 54,000 according to the State Highway Administration, has drawn criticism from some in the community.

Edward Cohen, a member of the MTA Citizens Advisory Committee said the plans make commuting and living in the area more difficult.

“This will make traffic permanently worse than it is now,” Cohen said. “You’re talking about things that will make an already tight space even tighter.”

Cohen said the needs of the community have not been considered during the design of the Red Line.

“We don’t see where this is going to improve anything in the city,” Cohen said. “This is not a transit project for transit riders; this is a transit project for developers.”