GGP Proposal and My Thoughts on One Aspect GGP's Presentation
Tomorrow at 7pm the County Council will hear economic analysis from the county's Economic Development Authority and the Columbia Association will present its plans for Symphony Woods. The Presentations will be at the Board of Education Building on Route 108 across from Cedar Lane.
Over the next couple weeks we will delve into the details in the proposal, but for know I wanted to reflect one interesting aspect of the presentation:
It was nice to see that GGP has finally recognized the extension of mass transit rail as an important part of the transit solutions. It is something I have been pushing for during the past four years, both in conversations with the county executive before and after he got elected, with GGP officials, and on this blog. GGP several times put up the proposed map of the extensions of the Baltimore Light Rail. They should also take note of the proposals to extend the DC Green Line to Ft. Meade, which is roughly the same distance north as Columbia from Greenbelt. As I repeatedly have pointed out the key to mass transit is ridership density and to maximize ridership density you want to maximize connection of where people are with where they want to go. The proposals that currently are being looked at to extend the Baltimore Light Rail and the DC Metro don't do that, but a system like this would:
The DC Metro took 15 years from the start of construction to the completion of the number of new stops that are in the above extension with roughly the same numbers of above and below ground stations.
If GGP and the County Elected officials want walkable communities, then creating a system like this with a significant portion of eastern Howard County's population within a 10 minute walk of a station is the way to go.
The previous traffic studies on Downtown Columbia show that our biggest traffic problems if they approve the development will be our local roads which will have intersections that are worse than traffic on Rockville Pike. Park and ride mass transit alone will not solve our traffic problems or allow us to manage growth pressures. A walk and ride system with some park and ride stations would relieve pressure on local roads and allow the county to absorb growth in a managed smart growth way.