Purple Line Route Set, ‘Enormous’ Underground Parking at East Campus

WMATA Bus Route MapThe East Campus project is located roughly half a mile from the College Park Metrorail station, adjacent ten bus routes, bisected by a bike trail connected to a major regional trail system, and the future home of a Purple Line light rail station.

The project developers have made a guess as to how much less parking will be needed than what is already required under the existing zoning. Included in their parking analysis revealed last night, they’ve provided parking at 90% of the existing zoning for office, 75% for apartments, 90% for restaurant visitors, 90% for retail, 100% required for the hotel and grocery store, and 95% needed for the Birchmere and cinema. At the presentation last night, the developers boasted of the forward-thinking that produced their estimate that the project would require 15% less parking than Prince George’s County zoning requires. Although the traffic study estimated roughly half of the peak trips to and from the site will be not in automobiles, the percentages above represent how much parking will be provided for each use – a much higher amount.

Thanks to these estimates, the developers plan to build roughly 4,000 parking spaces in the first phase, and perhaps 1,500 in the second phase. For the most part, the parking will be concealed at the center of blocks and in two “enormous” (their word) underground parking structures that will span nearly the entire width of the site. (When they are posted, we’ll add the diagram shared with the committee last night.)

East Campus Purple Line Alignment #7However, the biggest news from last night’s East Campus meeting was about the Purple Line. It seems the MTA, Foulger-Pratt, and President Mote have agreed to plan for the Purple Line on Rossborough Lane, one block south of the route anticipated in early project plans.(The farthest south in the illustration to the right.) On campus, only two alignments remain — Campus Drive, and a new, at-grade southern alignment dubbed by the MTA the Preinkert Drive/Chapel Drive Alignment. Over the next month, the MTA will be completing a detailed analysis of the new alignment in order to compare it with Campus Drive.

Campus Purple Line Alignments

Also last night, the developers presented their traffic impact study that found the road network would be able to absorb the traffic from the project for the first phase, and for the second phase suggesting several modifications needed including new turn lanes and modifications to traffic lights. As expected, University Park resident Bridget Warren grilled the developer’s traffic consultant over the finer details of the 57-page traffic impact study.

The developers said that now that the Purple Line route has been settled, they will begin to refine and finalize the block structure and architecture of the project. At the next meeting, a committee including the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Dean Garth Rockcastle will present a “design principles” document they have created, and the committee will discuss the overall development principles for the project.

15 thoughts on “Purple Line Route Set, ‘Enormous’ Underground Parking at East Campus”

  1. Rob-
    I think you are interpreting their reductions from M-NCPPC’s required parking as actual trips each day. Your suggestion that everyone will be driving does not line up with F-P/A and the Traffic Group’s claim that everyone will be walking.

    At one point, Wes Guckert of the Traffic Group responded that 50% of East Campus patrons and residents would be walking (or biking, using the bus or shuttle). They are have extrapolated from similar mixed use projects that are 25-35% multimodal and increased the % due to the campus and transit’s availability.

    The Traffic Group’s optimistic calculations re: trip generation are, I believe:
    50% multmodal–Wes referred to these as walkers
    40% trips en route to another destination
    10% newly generated trips

  2. Thanks for raising this issue. You are correct, the traffic study included what I think are reasonable estimates of the numbers of walkers, bikers, and transit riders.

    What I’m referring to above is the number of parking spaces they are providing. The suburban zoning code assumes everyone will drive, and the percentages above are drawn from the reductions they’re taking because it is a TOD. Here is my source

  3. So the Campus has a new fanciful alignment they have all agreed on. Will they be coming up with $100,000,000 required for the requisite tunnel or do they just want to blast through the Morrill quad (in order to project the hideous (but apparently sacred) Campus Drive? Tuition increase? Slots at the East Campus schlock mall?

  4. I love a good skeptic as much as the next guy but I don’t think the “Preinkert” alignment needs a tunnel.

    I am blown away by the administrations fervor against Campus Drive. Like UM Skeptic says Campus Drive in hideous and if the state is willing to pony up the bread to make is nice for the Purple line what not to like?

    It would be like the City of College Park coming to me and offering to put a sidewalk down my street and then also offering to pay for all new landscaping at the same time. Then I would respond with a counter offer to run the sidewalk around the back of my house…. through a tunnel. 🙂

  5. As Clays loves a good skeptic, I love a good conspiracy theory. Im telling you all, something doesnt smell right and it has nothing to do with what I ate for dinner last night.

    Ok, sorry – in all seriousness – If Campus Drive is such a problem because we want to protect the iconic beauty of the “M” circle, then going anywhere near Memorial Chapel makes even less sense, as that is more beautiful than anything else we have. The way it sits up there on the hill ………Its definitely one of our top 5 most photographed / recognized assets. I just dont get it. I would think folks would say Campus Drive over the Chapel area any day. Overwhelmingly so.

  6. I could see this type of behavior from a private school. But a state school funded with taxpayer money? There better be a darn good reason for wasting money or head will roll come election time. Simple. The voter speaks. Or is democracy dead when it comes to the politics of higher ed? 🙂 If the M is so cool, then why isn’t it lit up at night outlined in red neon? If you’re going to spend millions of dollars to keep it, flaunt it.

  7. Kevin, that’s a great point. If aesthetics are the concern, the integrity of the Chapel and Rossborough are much more important in my mind than Campus Drive!

  8. It is really unlike that the Maryland Historical Trust
    would accept an at grade alignment trashing Morrill quad if it were to cross there at-grade unless options were worse. Can anyone argue that Campus Drive is worse? Is this more of Duncan throwing money wrenches in the Purple Line process, as he did for 16 years as MC County Executive.

    I don’t know what the elevation changes on the Morrill route but it is a pretty steep hill from both east and west. If it is more than and 8% grade then a tunnel will be required.

  9. It looks like the Purple Line proponents have won a major battle with O’Malley setting aside 100M in the state budget for the PL project.

    Congratulations to the PL supporters.

  10. Joe: could the Maryland Historical Trust have the leverage to impact this? I mean sure, we can all state our positions, but in the end, do they have the ability to impact the ultimate outcome?

    I dont think Doug Duncan is throwing in monkey wrenches just to muck things up. He is merely doing his job. Can you all imagine what a huge nightmare this must be for people like Doug and President Mote? The complexities of the constituent relationships at play – not to mention a billion dollar fund raising campaign and ever shrinking state support (time for my favorite tounge-in-cheek sarcastic barb: “What is the state support of College Park at these days? $ .22 cents total? or are we down to .13?” …..sorry, cant resist. It frustrates the bejeezus out of me that this state does not understand the economic value of a top flight university and what it could do to the regional economy….dollars invested in CP could generate a ROI that benefits ……..oh I digress sorry)

    My point is this: President Mote and Doug Duncan are not trying to foul up this process because they want to play power games or because they prefer cars over public transportation. They have the hideously challenging job of managing an unbelievably complex constiuent base. You and I both know there are some big money donors (or Univ officials who represent those donors interests) behind this

    Which ties to a much higher level issue. The only way College Park Revitalization (this is a broad term meaning P-line, rte 1 reconstruction, east campus, economic development….all of it) can move forward and reach a successful outcome is if we develop an operating model based on trust, teamwork, cooperation, and understanding the greater good. There needs to be a “Greater College Park Redevelopment Authority” with a board of Directors made up of reps from the City, County, State, Univ Administration, MNCPPC, as well as Undergrads / Grads / Alumni since we all have a vested interest in this. It has to be a highly effective, fully functioning, above board entity.

  11. Responding to Kevin: I am not a preservationist, but I believe that the way this will play out is as follows.

    Since the University is a State institution and there is some level of protection over the historical core of campus. The Historical Trust is likely to consider Morrill Mall and the Chapel Fields both of critical contextual importance for the resources in that area (Morrill, Shoemaker, the Chapel, etc. They will also be interested in the Engineering fields. They will want to make sure that alternatives are investigated that minimally impact the historic resources and what mitigation measures can be taken to limit impacts. An at-grade option across the Morrill quad would have a dramatic impact, so they will prefer a tunnel. The tunnel will be declared cost prohibitive ($50 to 80 million?, so they will prefer Campus Drive, which, as has been demonstrated very well be Rethink could use a makeover anyway.

    The good news is that Campus Drive can link to Rossborough as well as the Chapel Fields option can so there can still be a stop on Rossborough – near Ritchie, close to the new East Campus stuff and a hop and a skip from old town CP. I think everyone agrees that this option is a reasonable compromise. Now if we can just get the center campus alignment right….

  12. thats good news. my hunch is that all of the talk regarding all of these alternative alignments is a way of guiding us to the campus drive alignment.

    kind of like the scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the ladies tricked the father into thinking it was his idea/decision when it was really them leading him to where they wanted him to be all along.

    hey, if in the end, the best solution prevails, I dont mind

  13. A Rossborough alignment can also allow a stop at the Visitor Center in Turner Hall (The Dairy). Between Turner and the M circle is a parking lot and the southwest corner of the Engineering Fields, not much of a loss there.

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