Saturday, October 4

MARC-Town Center in Odenton

OK, MARC Train fans, get ready to move to Odenton! According to an article in last night's Kapital-paper, that's the place to be if you catch the MARC train in Odenton. Because if you don't live there, you sure as heck are not going to be able to drive and park there when the 400,000 square-foot, high-density, mixed use complex really gets going.

"Its supporters say it will be the essence of a transit-oriented development," according to newshound Joshua Stewart, who couldn't seem to find anyone to express a healthy skepticism about the impact the project will have on those who rely on the already-stretched-to-the-limit MARC system and infrastructure in Odenton. Obviously Mr. Stewart has not seen this blog.

The herd of veteran Odenton station devotees will note that the MARC system was already overwhelmed 10 years ago when the Town Center Plan had been collecting dust for only 30 years. Apparently Mr. Stewart doesn't read his own newspaper which a few weeks ago clued us in to the fact that MARC system upgrades on the Penn line and to the Odenton station itself were cut from next year's budget.

It took the MTA 10 years just to acquire the land on the opposite side of Rt. 175 to build an overflow parking lot which, now, thanks to excellent planning is itself overflowing whenever the Camden Line shuts down passenger rail traffic in favor of the higher-paying freight business. MARC actually encourages the hapless Camden Line passengers to make the short drive over to Odenton and catch a Penn line train much to the delightful surprise of regular Penn Line victims at Odenton.

Now parking is just one of the two-dimensional limitations of the system and the one-dimensional limits of its planners' thinking and imagination. Another limitations is on the capacity of MARC train carriages. Already overflowing to Dangerous Overcrowding levels on early morning and evening trains, I am predicting that the MTA will have to hire riot-squads and start buying water cannons to deal with high-density, mixed-use passengers trying to board these trains. We will be seeing scenes like this one in Argentina when passengers there refuse to ride on the tops of that nation's commuter trains as they peacefully do in Bombay.

MARC-Town may turn out to be a boon for Odenton residents and businesses. However, they will have more than a few angry folks if they over-sell the "excellent access to the busiest MARC train station in the county." I am advising all potential leasees and apartment renters to read the fine print very carefully before buying into this fantasy.

Unless the MARC fairy Godmother appears, soon, with gobs of cash as well as a magic wand, there will only be misery or worse in store for us for the next ten years when we can all celebrate the golden anniversary of the Odenton Town Center Plan.