Unsatisfied with the Maryland Transit Administration’s preferred Campus Drive alignment, several sources have told us that President Mote is urging the agency to consider yet another route. This new, southern route (blue line on the interactive map below) would run along Campus drive by the Architecture Building, then south on Preinkert Drive, then would veer eastward to climb the steep hill along the southern edge of the historic Morrill Hall (1898 – second oldest building on campus), then down the steep quad. At the bottom of the quad (pictured above), near the Skinner Building, the route would then run along the street between Marie Mount Hall and the Chapel. From there the route would descend Chapel Field, pass directly north of the Rossborough Inn (circa early 1800s) and would wriggle its way across Route 1 and into East Campus.
|View the interactive map|
Pres. Mote’s latest alignment, while an improvement over his Stadium Drive proposal (orange), poses numerous and perhaps insurmountable problems. For one, the route requires several steep grade changes, especially around Morrill Hall, which crowns a hill 167 feet above sea level (for comparison, Route 1 lies 80 feet above sea level at the Ritchie Coliseum). Though steep grades are possible to navigate, such a route could require costly tunneling or the digging of a trench that would present a depressed gash everyone wants to avoid.
Furthermore, Pres. Mote’s latest route would disqualify Campus Drive from the state- and Federally-funded streetscape improvements it desperately needs. Most importantly, this new route cannot compete with the Campus Drive alignment’s chief virtue of serving the center of campus.
The centrality of a transit stop increases the convenience to riders and thus maximizes ridership. Campus Drive by the Student Union sits between North and South Campus providing a convenient location for all.* Why else do so many ShuttleUM routes serve Stamp?
Though it is good policy for governments to consider the wishes of stakeholders, of which the University is an important one, Pres. Mote must keep in mind that the Maryland government does not exist solely to indulge each of his new alignments. Preliminary engineering studies are costly and further delay the project. Pres. Mote can suggest a web of new routes, but it is unlikely he will discover a new alignment that beats the MTA’s current proposal in convenience, respect for federally protected historic resources, practicality, and cost-effectiveness. Pres. Mote might find it more fruitful to submit to the MTA his own suggestions for improvements to the Campus Drive alignment the state has had on the books for several years.
It is notable that brief UMD advocacy for a Knox Rd/Mowatt Lane alignment met immediate and universal criticism. it was a non-starter for local politicians who rightly demanded that the Purple Line must be routed through East Campus if the university ever wants to see that development built. Hence administrators came up with this latest iteration…
We always encourage your feedback and this topic certainly elicits much of it. What do you think of this new alignment? What advantages and disadvantages does it provide over the other two routes?
*Centrality is particularly important since Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow at the October Purple Line community meeting stridently demanded a transit line convenient to the Comcast Center and Byrd Stadium. Certainly she would maintain the consistency of her position and oppose this new, southern route since it would prove inconvenient not only for regular commuters, but especially so for game fans.