Continuing the ‘Anywhere But’ Campus Drive Purple Line Strategy

“The university is a major beneficiary of this project [the Purple Line],” Daddio said. “But you wouldn’t know it by their actions in the last few months.” Washington Post (1/28/2008)

Purple Line 6
There is no doubt as to the University Administration’s intent with their latest move to close Campus Drive to cars and transit.  One of the strongest arguments for a central campus Purple Line alignment between the ‘M’ Circle and the Stamp Student Union on Campus Drive is that the proposed light rail would link up with the hub of Shuttle UM – UMD’s successful and far-flung bus system. By removing transit vehicles from Campus Drive, administration officials have found a way to seriously undercut and potentially pre-empt the Maryland Transportation Administration’s (MTA) preferred alignment through campus. In doing so they risk the continued success of Shuttle UM and create yet another serious obstacle for the Purple Line – a project whose profound potential benefits for the campus community they rarely communicate. The Purple Line would bring 4 high investment transit stops to campus and dramatically enhance transportation options for UMD students, faculty and staff both regionally and intra-campus.

Purple Line 2
The intra-campus Purple Line Concept.

The planned closure supports outgoing University President Dan Mote’s vision for Campus Drive to “serve as a major pedestrian walking mall” that he laid out to the campus community in October 2007. He claims this idea is explicitly supported by the Campus Master Plan, but RTCP’s editors showed that Mote’s vision for the roadway is based on a misreading of the Campus Master Plan which neither implicitly nor explicitly supports closing Campus Drive to transit. Mote’s continued opposition to the Campus Drive alignment is a “knee-jerk reaction and demonstrates a continuing lack of coordination with MTA.” It runs counter to the advice of nearly every urban and transportation planner who has taken a serious look at the situation on campus as well as counter to the multi-year, multi-million dollar Purple Line planning process being conducted by the state.

Unfortunately, since Campus Drive is the only viable east-west transit route across campus, Dr. Mote’s vision for the road is tantamount to a rejection of  transit on campus and ultimately the Purple Line. The plan relegates existing regional (WMATA) and campus (Shuttle-UM) bus service to the periphery of campus… a plan which will dramatically reduce the efficiency and efficacy of area transit in the near term. The plan adds more credence to UMD’s proposed Preinkert Drive alignment, but that proposal still presents major technical and funding obstacles to the Purple Line that neither the administration nor the MTA have found a way to address.

A test run of this road closure will begin mid-June or July and continue on through September 15th into August. Long term implementation could begin as soon as 2011. RTCP fully supports the closure of Campus Drive to private automobiles as quickly as possible. A thorough study of the road by MTA (as part of the Purple Line planning process) showed that 5,500 private automobiles snarl 750 transit vehicles on the roadway during any given school day between 6am and 7 pm…. putting cars in major conflict with transit and pedestrians. Most of those cars are single-occupancy vehicles and based on driver interviews nearly 20% of cars on the roadway were just passing through and had no business being on campus.

3 Proposed alignments
Purple - MTA's preferred alignment down Campus Drive. Red-UMD's most recent proposal down Preinkert and Chapel Drive. Orange-UMD's abandoned Stadium Drive Alignment. See interactive map HERE.

9 thoughts on “Continuing the ‘Anywhere But’ Campus Drive Purple Line Strategy”

  1. “Dan Mote’s Vision”

    The Campus Master plan has been calling for this since the 1980’s if not earlier when UMCP was merely viewed a mediocre party school diploma mill and not even on Mote’s radar screen, so stop making it sound like its evil Darth Mote’s anti light rail agenda

    Besides, given Mote’s M.O. we all know its some big money alumni with anti purple line agendas because of their montgomery county country club calling the shots – U of Md has completely whored itself out to the largest donors

    Enough with the Mote stuff. It diminishes the stature of RTCP which otherwise is an outstanding site. I assure you, Campus Drive has been destined to be a pedestrian mall since the early 1980’s if not earlier. And that is fact and you can go look it up in University Archives.

  2. None of what you said makes this plan a good idea and a lot of it is wild speculation. The current master plan has been in place for a decade and doesn’t support the “pedestrian walking mall” concept for the road. Feel free to write up a post based of archives research. Sounds like it could be an interesting history!

    I’ll have to use “Darth Mote” in the future. 🙂

  3. @Montgomery Kent

    I would hope that progress and ideas have evolved over the last 30 years. Trying to implement a vision created 30 years ago is a bit backwards. 30 years ago, the region looked completely different than it does now. Our ideas have to evolved with the world around us or we’ll be left behind. That’s why highways, huge parking lots, and strip malls have given way to mixed-use, transit-oriented design, and smart growth.

  4. My post was not intended to support the concept of a ped mall – I am a firm believer that the purple line MUST be on campus drive for the good of the university. Personally, to me as a person, it is a “non negotiable” the only alignment that makes any sense at all is campus drive with stops in front of the union and east campus.

    the point of my post was to say : “stop making personalizing the debate and attaching it to Dan Mote” …besides, who really cares about Dan Mote anyway – he’s done his damage (terrible choice for dean of the b-school, and other leadership disasters that are alienating alumni by the thousands) – and he is on his way

    RTCP diminishes its stature when it attacks Mote on the issue. He has nothing to do with it, he is merely delivering the message. Its big money alums calling the shots on this one as well as a campus master plan (written by many below Mote) that dictate the fate of the p-line and campus drive.

    So John and David – I wholeheartedly agree and thanks to the great education that David and Rob have provided (i.e. one of the best posts ever was Rob using facts and stats to dismantle the whole “we dont want the p-line on campus because it will increase crime” arguement) I am an ardent supporter of the p-line on campus drive, again, its the only option that makes any sense (North of Byrd is good for Debbie and her Terrapin Club and the Chapel alignment is nauseating…..maybe – and its a stretch – a southern alignment around VMH and down guilford to Calvert but thats not even desirable, it circumvents the core or heart of campus) my point is this:

    Its not Dan Mote blocking this and Dan Mote is now irrelevant (how many days til august, it cant come soon enough) so lets move the debate forward and stay focused on the task at hand and tone down the mote rhetoric in the name of quality high level debate


  5. It absolutely is Dan Mote that is blocking this. He’s wasted thousands upon thousands of taxpayer dollars opposing the Campus Drive alignment. Now he is trying to divert university resources and staff time to an effort that won’t accomplish anything tangible. He’s trying to set campus transportation on a course that will take considerable time and resources to undo. If there is no opposition and we wait it out as you suggest, then it’s perfectly feasible that his successor will continue along this path on the recommendation of Ann Wylie. That’s a view shared by the vast majority of folks familiar with the situation.

    This post is a well reasoned and sober assessment of the situation. Please do not continue to post with nicknames and false email addresses.

  6. Here is a classic example of the warped thinking of the Sith Lords administration. From the Diamondback Feb 2, 2009.

    “”The student union is not the heart of the university,” Wylie added. “I consider the library to be the heart of the university,” and McKeldin Library is no farther from the Preinkert Field House than the student union, she said.

    But even if the student union is considered the heart of the campus, Wylie said, it shouldn’t matter to the Purple Line’s route because commuters would not decide whether to drive or take transit to the campus based on whether the Purple Line stops on Campus Drive or Preinkert Drive.

    Please. McKeldin is not even close to the gathering place that the Student Union is.
    Where are many events held? Union.
    Where is the Hoff Theater? Union.
    Where is the food court? Union.
    Where is the bookstore? Union.
    Where is the SGA? Union.

    Also if a commuter has to switch shuttles or walk to the Union from Preinkert I think they might think twice about taking the purple line. A “passing-thru” commuter might not but someone whose destination if the Union might decide to drive.

  7. “based on driver interview’s nearly 20% of cars on the roadway were just passing through and had no business being on campus”

    I wouldn’t believe that. There’s a significant backup on that road every day; who would sit in the traffic when it’s much faster to drive around campus?

  8. Closing campus drive is a bad idea. The majority of students on campus are commuters and they need those roads to get to their parking lots. By closing campus drive, all of the inevitable east-west traffic will have to be directed through stadium drive and other roads which is the last place that the campus needs random people driving through.

    Also, students need those roads to get to their cars to go home. When alone late at night, walking around to get to public transportation is the last place students want to be. Safety is always a big concern. and a light rail is not going to make it better.

    last, the shuttle bus system is such a big success because it helps students get around campus easily. Students use it to get from north campus, where the dorms are, to get to route 1, where the bars are. during the day, the bus system is to get people from campus to the metro. Since they run very frequently and it’s very convenient, people use it. So why change it.

    so, if there was a light rail through the middle of the campus, all of that private vehicle traffic is not going to stop, it is just going to make everything inconvenient choke up all roads around campus. Cars are not going to go away just because you don’t let people drive through campus.
    I cannot imagine a light rail working on campus. I agree with mote when he says “It runs counter to the advice of nearly every urban and transportation planner who has taken a serious look at the situation on campus..” Just look at the current roads. A train going through the heart of campus does not make campus more pedestrian friendly. At least cars can stop for bikers and pedestrians.

  9. Other student above… I agree fully. Campus drive is the main way to get around campus.

    A few little details that have been overlooked:
    -How will emergency vehicles access the ambulance bay in the health center quickly?
    -How will truck deliveries along campus drive be handled? Closing the road gets rid of street access to several buildings.
    -What about the parking lots along campus drive? Are we really going to give up that parking (There’s two lots near Jimenez)?
    -Where will bike traffic go?

    The last one really bugs me. I really prefer to ride my bike around campus. Various members of campus and surrounding community have griped about bikers riding on sidewalks, so campus officials have been pushing us to ride on the streets. I’ve got reasons to believe that DOTS officials might try to ban riding on the sidewalks. I don’t really feel safe doing that, but if it makes them happy, whatever. If this road is going to be considered a walking zone, will bikers be allowed there? Once the train is built I’m going to feel *really* unsafe biking there without some sort of divider between myself and the train traffic. At that point, I’d probably stop biking to/around campus and start driving (probably not public transit because the nearest bus stop to my home is a bit more than a mile away and buses there aren’t reliable).

    I think a light rail could work on Campus Drive if the road was expanded to include a “public transit lane” (a lane shared by the light rail and buses, see Pittsburgh’s public transportation system), a divided bike lane (should allow two way traffic, opposite side of the public transit lane, and two lanes for two way traffic, shared by buses and private vehicles. But we don’t really have space to expand this road.

Comments are closed.