Port Covington’s Transportation Proposal’s Impact on South Baltimore Neighborhoods

| July 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

Rendering Courtesy of Sagamore Development 

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Last night, Michael Pokorny and Kimiya Darrell of Sagamore Development’s transportation design team, as well as Ryan Parth of STV, presented at the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association meeting. They discussed Sagamore’s Port Covington transportation proposal and how new transportation changes will impact access to the neighborhood.

In its current state, drivers on I-95 North who plan to enter the peninsula neighborhoods at S. Hanover St. must either get off on the S. Hanover St. exit and make a U-turn at Cromwell St. or take the Key Hwy. exit and U-turn back onto S. Hanover St. Sagamore is proposing a new exit off of I-395 that would take drivers to Hanover St. and allow for a left turn going north and a right turn going south. Drivers on I-95 North would go on I-395 before taking this exit. The S. Hanover St. exit off I-95 North would be eliminated. The team said that new signage would be added directing drivers to Port Covington along this exit.

All changes would be recommendations to the Federal Transit Authority which will conduct its own study with a public comment period.

Regarding I-95 South, the Key Hwy. exit would be widened. Two lanes would access a redeveloped McComas St. which would lead drivers to S. Hanover St. and new Port Covington streets. A single lane would remain for direct access to Key Hwy.

To access I-95 North or South, Sagamore’s new plan proposes a widened exit from S. Hanover St. which will allow commuters to get on I-95 going either direction. Currently you can only access I-95 S. on this exit. While drivers will still not be able to directly access this exit from southbound trips on S. Hanover St., the team said there will be many new blocks that drivers can turn around on.

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Another proposed change for the peninsula neighborhoods is a new 14 ft. wide cycling and pedestrian bridge that will connect the 1900 block of Light St. to a new street called Violet in Port Covington. This bridge, which the team described as fairly long and well lit, would go over the CSX tracks and under I-95. The bridge would meet in Port Covington at a new proposed light rail stop (a spur off the Westport station) and transition into a new continuous cycling lane. Another proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge would connect the Port Covington and Westport. This would involve the redevelopment of the Spring Garden Swing Bridge.

In the near future, Sagamore will soon begin construction on a bike path connecting W. McComas St. by Swann Park to the rest of Port Covington.

Rendering Courtesy of Sagamore Development 

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While Sagamore’s goal is to build a development with a lower reliance on cars through new pedestrian access points, water taxi stops, a light rail spur, bike share stations, and changes in bus routes, the team said they estimated the new jobs and residents of Port Covington would bring about 4,500 to 6,900 new car trips a day. They estimate 35% of new drivers will access Port Covington from I-95 North, 35% from I-95 South, 15% from S. Hanover St. heading north, 15% from S. Hanover St. heading south, and 5% from Key Hwy.

The team also said they estimated approximately 600 news car trips each morning on S. Hanover St. in the South Baltimore Neighborhood. They said there is currently about 35,000 car trips a day on the portion of S. Hanover St. south of the neighborhood in Port Covington. Sagamore has also proposed redeveloping this section of S. Hanover St. by taking it down to grade and adding medians, sidewalks, and on-street parking. These changes will be done in coordination with the Hanover Street Bridge Multimodal Corridor Plan which is currently being studied.

Attendees at the SBNA meeting asked Sagamore about the details of all the transportation plans and shared their desire to see more coordinated traffic lights on S. Hanover St., as well as their hopes that new drivers traveling into Port Covington will indeed avoid the residential portion of S. Hanover St. Concerns were also voiced about resident safety with the increased traffic and new spaces being added, such as the cycling and pedestrian bridge. Pokorny said they are hoping to form their own district agreement like Downtown Partnership currently has in place for additional security and sanitation assistance.

Calming and beautifying Hanover St. has been a focus of the South Baltimore Neighborhood in recent years. This includes the recent construction of new landscaped traffic calming medians on the 1800 and 1700 blocks of S. Hanover St. SBNA is also currently working on new signage, landscaping and murals for the entrance of the neighborhood at S. Hanover and Wells St. using Casino Impact Funds. Sagamore recently conducted landscaping improvements on the medians and SBNA and Sagamore are currently in discussions about a long-term agreement for maintenance of this space, which would relieve the expense from SBNA.

Neighborhood Design Center Concept Rendering 

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Sagamore currently has an agreement with the city to maintain the medians and public spaces in Port Covington.

Sagamore’s 260-acre Port Covington Master Plan was recently approved by the Baltimore City Planning Department. Sagamore’s plan to finance the transportation improvements, which includes Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds and state, federal, and Sagamore dollars, will begin public review by the Planning Commission tomorrow.

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.