Earlier tonight, Alon Levy, Daniel Kay Hertz, Dennis Griffith, and I got into a Twitter discussion about the worst placements of commuter rail and rapid-transit stations in pedestrian-hostile environments:
During that discussion, I brought up the example of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport Rail Station. The placement of the station itself is whatever; it’s not intended to serve local development, there are relatively frequent shuttles to the airport itself, and as Alon has argued, mainline rail connections are the most important kind of airport connector (of course, BWI is also served by the Baltimore light rail system). What’s more remarkable about BWI Station is that, if one zooms in far enough on Google imagery, one can see a little walkway, the kind that parks put in over wetlands, leading away from the station to the west. The walkway connects the station to two office complexes just about a half-mile away.
I don’t know what entity occupies the northern building, but here’s the truly ridiculous, depressing thing: the southern building is the headquarters of none other than the Maryland Department of Transportation. I suppose that, just barely, the MDOT headquarters is within a half-mile of a station with active transit service…but come on. This isn’t TOD. Does anyone think that passes for a transit-accessible, or even walkable, location? Does someone maintain that walkway in winter? MARC service isn’t exactly frequent, and that location can’t be well-served by other modes. Is there a better illustration of a state “transportation” department paying lip service to a commitment to multimodal transportation, while really serving its roots as a highway department?
PS: We’re looking for a good hashtag to describe the situation where a transit agency places a station in a location entirely hostile to pedestrians, or where the surrounding developments cut themselves off from an adjacent station. Suggestions welcome.
UPDATE: See the comment from noted transit activist Ben Ross below–the MDOT building was there first, and the walkway was added later in an attempt to compensate for the location.