Timonium Residents Unhappy With MTA's Proposed Transit Options
TOWSON - The Greater Timonium Community Council (GTCC) held a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the seven proposed options for mass transit from Towson/Timonium to inner Baltimore. Community members and MTA representatives were at the meeting to voice their concerns and respond to public feedback.
According to Eric Rockel, president of the community organization, most attendees were unhappy with MTA's seven proposals.
"I didn't expect it to be as lopsided as it was. From a show of hands, I'd say 95% were against the alignments north of the beltway," Rockel said. "It was very clear that the audience didn't like the idea of the MTA's possible plans."
The Maryland Transit Authority has requested community comment on seven proposed options for mass transit into Baltimore. Three of the proposals include segments north of I-695, which GTCC specifically opposed.
At the meeting, many residents shared concerns such as increased traffic on York Road, damaging property values, and crime spreading from Baltimore into the Towson area. WMAR reports that one resident is especially worried about York Road becoming a two-lane highway.
"I live on York Road, and there's a lot of residents that live on York Road. Where do you want them to park their cars when they come home from work because when you put this project in, you're dropping it down to two lanes. It's going to create traffic issues, and it's going to create environmental issues. So, I'm like, what idiot thought of this," said Peter Hammerer, resident on York road.
GTCC and nearby residents are not the only community members calling on MTA to reconsider the project. Newly elected county councilman Mike Ertel called the project "ridiculous" in a statement on October 30.
"These options are ridiculous. They are also quite unlikely to happen. It would take enormous cooperation and funding from the county, the city, the state, and the federal government," he said. "As your Councilperson, I would vigorously oppose these specific plans should they advance."
Rockel also says that the MTA could not answer questions about the project's feasibility at the Wednesday meeting, which "unnerved" the audience.
"Questions that the audience would have, such as how much of York Road is going to be taken up by the light rail lines or by the canopy overhead without an electrified third rail. The MTA wasn't prepared to answer those types of questions."
Not every attendee of Wednesday's meeting opposed the addition of mass transit. Rockel says some spoke in favor of the project, saying it would relieve congestion rather than exacerbate it.
The MTA is in the process of narrowing down the proposals from seven to four before commencing another public comment period. According to Rockel, we will have to wait and see to find out how much the MTA has been listening to community objections.
"I think they were listening, but it remains to be seen, and we won't see until they narrow it down to the four alternatives from the seven; how much they evaluate community comment."
GTCC has launched a petition to drop proposals 1, 2, and 6 from the list, the three proposals which reach north of the beltway. To sign the petition, see here.
If any of these plans go forward it will be an egregious misallocation. For one, it won't be taking throngs of suburban commuters to jobs in downtown Baltimore. Necessity for offices downtown Baltimore is waning. Retail is dying, so there will soon be nowhere for residents of Baltimore to shop in Towson. This serves no one.