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City design panel reviews Red Line plans for Canton

Architects laid out plans for a section of the Red Line light rail project that runs through Boston Street in Canton, saying the train will not be a hindrance to commuting in the area.

“We wanted it to be a connector to the waterfront, not a barrier,” said William Gallagher Jr., principal at KGP design studio in Washington, D.C., a design consultant on the project.

AECOM, the Los Angeles-based firm contracted to design the Red Line facilities, unveiled sketches of the project Thursday at a meeting of the Baltimore Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel.

Plans call for two light rail stations, one near Boston Street’s intersection with O’Donnell Street, the other near the intersection with South Conkling Street. The intersections near the stations would include clearly marked crosswalks and additional street and sidewalk lighting.

Also included in the plans is a redesign of the sidewalk along Boston Street, which would be seven feet wide with trees planted on the street side of the sidewalk every 35 feet.

Gallagher said the trees will give the street a new aesthetic.

“We want it to feel like a boulevard, a real brand, a real urban boulevard,” said Gallagher.

Panel members expressed concern that some street-level parking in front of residential blocks would be eliminated in favor of sidewalks and trees.

Gary Bowden, a UDARP member who also lives in the area, suggested the neighborhood would not take too kindly to eliminating parking in an already parking-starved area.

“Well, it was pedestrian versus parking,” said Gallagher.

“We vote for parking,” replied Bowden.

Despite the concerns, Bowden and other panel members expressed optimism about having the Red Line in the area.

“The Red Line is going to make Boston Street a wonderful street — even better than it is now,” said Bowden.

The plans also would reduce the number of car lanes on Boston Street west of South Clinton Street to one lane in the opposite direction of traffic during rush hours. The other lane would be converted to parking.

The existing traffic pattern would remain east of South Clinton Street.

While the UDARP was scheduled to meet all day, the afternoon session was canceled due to a panelist’s absence. A review of the proposed Gateway Hotel at the East Baltimore Development Inc. site was among the matters postponed to a later date.