Thank you Secretary Swaim-Staley,… County Executive Kaminetz, Senator Kesemeyer, Delegate Malone, it’s great to join you here today. I also want to thank the Halethorpe Improvement Association, the Halethorpe Civic Association and the Relay Improvement Association for all your work to make today a reality.
We’re here at Halethorpe, one of the five busiest stations on the Penn Line. Each work day, 1,300 passengers pass through this station. For many it’s where the work day begins and ends. It’s quite literally one of the places that makes our economy go.
But you’d be sore pressed to find any of those 1,300 passengers who would give a thumbs up to the quality or convenience of this station. It would be hard to find anyone who likes having to walk up steps to get on the train,… or who enjoys the crowding at rush hour.
And that’s why we’re here today to announce $21 million in upgrades.
In this changing new economy, our ability to win the battle for our children’s future depends on our ability to create jobs, to expand opportunity, and protect our quality of life. To do this we must educate, we must innovate, and must rebuild, restore, and reinvigorate our infrastructure.
That’s the formula. None of these things are free. And none of the choices we have to make are easy. But to move forward we have to upgrade our rail, our roads, and our bridges.
We can only create jobs, if people are able to get to work. We can only reach our goals for increasing transit ridership, if we give commuters a convenient alternative to driving. We can only recruit business from others states (and countries) to bring their business to Maryland if we have a strong infrastructure.
Let me fill you in briefly on what these upgrades will mean for MARC passengers:
We’re going to build two new 700 foot long platforms that allow passengers to walk on and off the train – any car on the train. No more steps. No more waiting for passengers to bottleneck into three doors. Shorter waits. Lower operating costs.
And with multiple access points from the parking lot, we’re going to cut down on the crowding that passengers complain about during rush hour.
We are going to build a new pedestrian bridge, complete with stairs and elevators that will provide an easy link for passengers crossing to the other track. No more forcing passengers to climb up and down the mountain that is the staircase to the Francis Avenue Bridge (off to my right).
We’re going to upgrade the safety of the station with canopies that provide better protection and lighting across the entire platform.
We are building a separate Kiss-and-Ride location across the tracks along Potomac Avenue – something that passengers have long advocated for.
I know for many commuters and local residents the big remaining question is “what about parking?” In the past ten years, we’ve grown the capacity at the lot to accommodate over 900 cars. And we recently added 60 spaces across the street. But through MDOT, we’re still working to find additional options.
Thanks again for joining us today. We’re working across a number of fronts to upgrade MARC for Maryland commuters,… upgrading stations like Halethorpe, investing in green locomotives, adding passenger cars, making track improvements, … and with a $6 million federal investment from the Obama Administration, we’re launching a new public address system and “next train” display signs on all three MARC lines.
To move forward, we must choose to help passengers move forward – forward to work, forward to home, forward to a stronger transit future.