“Grasping at straws”

Or so Graduate Student Government president Laura Moore characterizes (in today’s gazette) the university’s continued opposition to the proposed light rail line on Campus Drive. Administrators continue to claim that vibrations and electromagnetic waves from the transitway will interrupt sensitive research on campus, yet continue to provide no evidence to support their claims. They continue to ignore that the MTA will avoid and mitigate these impacts just as other transit agencies have done the world over in these instances.

Meanwhile, commentor Joe Dexter points out that  the MTA will be returning to the City of College Park with a focus group scheduled for April 9th at 7-9 pm in CP City Hall (4500 Knox Rd).

Lastly, can anyone interpret this quote from UMD VP Doug Duncan in the article?

‘‘People look at it and say, ‘Well, this is where the traffic is today and therefore we have to have the station there,’ instead of saying, ‘Where do we want the traffic to be?’”

Does Duncan still think he is a transportation planner? I thought we dissavowed him of that.

19 thoughts on ““Grasping at straws””

  1. I see nothing wrong with Doug’s comment – in fact – I think it is a great comment given his role and a comment that is long overdue coming from a U of Md official. It shows that we are finally starting to make sure we are thinking long term and becoming more visionary in our approach to issues. So instead of looking at our current campus framework and plopping it where it seems to make the most sense today, lets think very carefully and look for ways to use the line as an opportunity to shift the paradigm (sorry – dont mean to sound like the IBM commercials)

    Will students 25 years from now use the Student Union and look at that as the core of campus? Perhaps there is another sector that would make a better hub? Sure – may seem like ridiculous far fetched questions right now. I think these are all fair, valid considerations and I applaud that kind of thinking. It shows we are trying to think long term and it demonstrates careful, visionary leadership.

  2. I agree that looking and planning ahead are good things. The problem here is this is a classic case of “the tail wagging the dog.”

    Its seems like the administration is dead set against campus drive and have therefore gone about finding all kinds of creative reasons why other routes are better. Is Preinkert Doug’s version of Dulles Airport? Build it and they will come. Well guess what they did build it, they did come, and now they want METRO! And did it ease traffic elsewhere? NO? I’m I going anywhere with this? NOT REALLY. Why am I shouting? I DONT KNOW!

    P.S. This site rocks. Don’t let it die.

  3. I never understood the concern over vibration and noise coming up and down Campus Drive from a light rail. I have felt vibrations numerous times while being inside buildings along campus drive coming from the Shuttle UM buses.

  4. Clay – are you old enough to remember the old Sat Night Live skits where they impersonated Robin Leach – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous……….”Im talking loud and I dont know why”

  5. The vibrations, the wires carrying powerful current, and the large hunks of moving metal are all very genuine problems for some of the highly sensitive research going on in campus labs. Some labs would become simply useless if they found themselves next to the Purple Line. These concerns are not at all bogus. But there are affected sites right next to every route across campus that has been proposed, so the concern does not clearly decide among the proposed routings. It will cost millions to mitigate these impacts whichever route is chosen. Doug Duncan knows this.

  6. Couple good points there Colin…. mainly that none of the alignments really stick out as being particularly far from the research activity….. especially UMD’s original Stadium Drive one. The transitway must go through campus.

    All that being said, they have not produced any evidence showing that HVAC systems, elevators, and current day street traffic are any more or less damaging to these research activities. The burden is on MTA to determine mitigation costs, but these projects have certainly occurred in similar research settings and the burden on Duncan is to explain how UMD is the exception.

  7. Clay

    As far as looking into the future and seeing where the core of the campus might shift, if there is a transit hub on Campus drive, TOD says that you build around the transit stops, not away from them. Therefore, even in the future, I doubt if the university will try to shift away from current core of the campus. I can see them enhancing it. Also, it is not a long walk from the student union to Cole Field house and the huge commuter lots that are ripe for development. So, I can see the core extending west instead of moving altogether. Can you imagine Cole Field House being converted into a small two level indoor shopping center with office space?

  8. Jeuill,
    I worked in the PAtuxent building for 17 years. (There is your answer Keven 🙂 It is right next to the Union so I lived through the Student Union renovation. (WHat a fiasco THAT was) Anyway I have always thought it would have made more sense to tear down Cole and put up a brand new Student Union in its location. As it stands now it is a large underutilized space in a prime location.

    I agree that it would make sense to extend campus development west in the direction of Lot 1. Although I think Athletics would pitch a fit every time you tried to interfere with a tailgating spot.

  9. An insane waste of space in an age in favor of urban density while continuing to encourage vehicle use for what – so people can grill and get drunk on asphalt 5 or 6 times a year? That’s forward thinking for ya! I absolutely love college football. And I love to grill and eat as well. But to give up some asphalt for progress, I’m all for it. 🙂 Besides, there’s acres of asphalt near the Comcast Center. Grill away!

  10. jeuill, I think you may have come up with a motto for this site and the campaign for a better College Park which it embodies: “give up some asphalt for progress”. Fantastic!

  11. I too do not understand the concern over the vibrations, as a member of the RHA I was given a presentation on the proposed light rail system by MTA officials, these are more like buses than trains and in most cases are quieter and cause less vibrations than our current buses.

  12. On a completely separate note of interest, the campus construction map has been updated. Here’s the link (there’s also a link to it to the right of these comments under the section On Campus): http://www.facilities.umd.edu/Construction/

    Note that the Washington Quad project will not be completed until at least May (and perhaps later, since renovation of the west entrance hasn’t really even begun yet).

    Out of curiosity, what exactly is being renovated at the golf course? And how much money is being spent on that instead of other projects that are more urgent, like new and renovated on-campus housing?

  13. The golf course is undergoing over 5 million dollars of renovations starting this July. It will go on for about 10 months in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the course.

    From what I understand it will be major upgrades to the course itself including all the fairways and greens being treated.

  14. re Campus Drive – In addition to the existing major destinations of Cole and the Student Union, the Campus Drive/PL corridor is destined to be the home of the new Teaching facility (on existing location of Shriver Lab-across from Hornbake Library) and major new development west of Cole Field House.

    The Campus Drive one is also closer to other major destinations – the Engineering and Biochemistry facilities, the major athletic facilities, the Performing Arts Center, etc. The notable exception is the Smith School of Business, although it is not a long walk from Campus Drive.

    http://www.facilities.umd.edu/Masterplan/index.cfm and the linked maps

  15. This is total bogus. The NYU physics building is built right on top of the 4, 5 , 6 train tracks. And yet, somehow, magically, life and yes, even research goes on.

    UMD administration is hopeless.

  16. Here’s an update for the Washington Quad (as quoted from the site):

    Work on the Quad will continue for the remainder of this semester and is scheduled to be completed in June. No work will be done during Finals Week or during Spring residence halls move-out. We will continue to provide you updates via email. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to visit the South Campus Community Office in 0200 Calvert or call us at 301-314-7484. Thank you.

  17. when i was a student it was almost completely paved over with asphalt (save a few brick lined planters) and consisted of basketball courts. they are tearing it up to make it softer, greener, more eco friendly

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