The July 29 editorial "Metro's $1.5 Billion Carrot" characterized concerns about development around Metro stations as "meddling." However, building housing near Metro stations is supposed to encourage people to use mass transit and get cars off the road. Ironically, the development proposed for the Takoma Metro station will do the opposite.
Takoma Station is in the District adjacent to Takoma Park and serves both jurisdictions. It has a short-term parking lot, many bike lockers and nine bus bays with room for buses to lay over between runs.
To squeeze 95 townhouses onto this site, half of the parking spaces will have to be eliminated and space for bike lockers will be lost, just when the new Metropolitan Branch Trail will bring more bikes to the station. Pedestrians approaching the station from the east will have to walk around the development or wind through it.
While the plan would add a bus bay, a 2003 study by the District and Takoma Park found that at least three more bays eventually will be needed. The plan leaves no space for more bays.
The development plan also eliminates one of the two bus entrances, forcing all buses onto congested Carroll Street. This will cause backups and idling in the terminal, as well as increased bus traffic on Blair Road. The proposed development on Metro property is not the only opportunity for transit-oriented development in the area. Housing recently was built on two sides of the Metro property, and construction will begin soon on another a block away. Metro should have set aside enough space for future transit needs at the station and then determined how much of the site would be left for development. Instead, it is letting the market economics determine how much housing to build, and it wants to squeeze transit services into the leftover space. Transit-oriented development is a good concept, but not if it makes it more difficult for people to use Metro.
The writer is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board.