It will be a pleasure to drive up to Pennsylvania...


August 21, 1993

SOME DAY it will be a pleasure to drive up to Pennsylvania Station and pick up or drop off passengers. Right now it is anything but, and it is dangerous, too.

The construction of a 550-car garage and plaza immediately south of the station has closed the old main entrance between Charles and St. Paul streets. Travelers must use an alternate entrance served by a small, curved driveway off Charles Street. It was barely adequate for passengers arriving at the rail station in cars or taxis from the south. Now it has to handle all the arrivals and departures.

That's bad enough, but the driveway is being hogged by taxis waiting to pick up arriving passengers. The cabs already have the east lane of Charles Street south of the station reserved for them to line up, but they use the sole driveway as well to wait for customers.

Passengers being dropped at the station by cars or taxis can't debark right at the entrance. So they get out in the middle of Charles Street, holding up other traffic while they fetch their luggage and risk getting hit by another car. It's about as unsafe a transfer point as we could imagine.

One answer would be for cars to pass the station and drop their passengers immediately north of it. The east side of Charles Street north of the station has been reserved for quick drop-offs and pick-ups. That's not the impulse most travelers will have, however, especially if they are burdened with luggage.

Signs on the approach to the station might divert some of the cars jamming the space right outside the station. So would stricter enforcement of the stop-and-go requirement north of the station.

More parking space has been created on Lanvale Street between Charles and St. Paul streets by making it one-way eastbound and permitting angle parking.

That's not much help to motorists picking up rail passengers. The meters have a 10-hour limit and are monopolized by all-day parkers. That might help boost MARC commuter traffic, but it will alienate a lot of potential Amtrak passengers long before the new garage is completed at the end of next year.

* * * TOMORROW marks the 100th birthday of writer and wit Dorothy Parker, a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table. She was the ultimate New Yorker: For her, there was no life beyond those five boroughs. Yet look what happened after her death in 1967.

Her ashes sat in a filing cabinet of her New York lawyer for years. Eventually, her remains were placed in a special garden -- in Baltimore!

This came about because of her dedication to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP headquarters was to be her final resting place. But by then, the NAACP had departed New York for lower-rent Baltimore. So Ms. Parker is one of us now (sort of). Her epitaph, suggested by herself: "Excuse my dust."

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