Improvements sought for Mondawmin center

Forum to address transit complaints

April 24, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Every school morning, Shawna Jeffress sprints through Mondawmin Transit Center.

Sometimes, the Cherry Hill resident's subway train arrives late. Other times, the bus leaves minutes early. Either way, she usually misses the bus -- and the bell that starts her pre-nursing classes at Baltimore City Community College.

Jeffress and many commuters want to improve the West Baltimore bus and subway depot and better coordinate schedules, which is why the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA), Mondawmin Mall and Mass Transit Administration (MTA) are sponsoring a public meeting today to talk about ways to make Mondawmin into a model transit center.

More than 70 community members and representatives from the Baltimore Zoo, Liberty Medical Center, Coppin State College and other institutions near the center have signed up for the forum at Liberty Medical Center from 12: 30 p.m. to 4: 30 p.m.

"This is one of the most widely used centers in MTA's core service area," said Jamie Kendrick, transportation program coordinator for CPHA.

One of Kendrick's complaints is that the center, which opened in 1983, is not very helpful to riders. There are no bus schedules posted, reader boards are rarely changed, and maps are difficult to read.

He said more should be done about cigarette butts and gum that cover the center's grounds, about burned-out fluorescent lights and about making crosswalks more visible. Kendrick also said the station needs more shelter from inclement weather.

"The station I get on at in Dorsey every morning is beautiful and bright," said the University of Pennsylvania graduate student, who travels to Philadelphia most weekdays.

If Mondawmin is revamped, Kendrick said, a day care center, a dry cleaner, a newspaper stand, a coffee stand and a place for bus drivers to spend their layovers should be added. Now, he said, many drivers stand in the cold or wander through Mondawmin Mall while waiting for their shifts.

MTA spokesman Larry Jones said the only definite plans for the center are to improve lighting, repaint pedestrian walkways and crosswalks, replace the escalator and assess the condition of the trains.

"As of the moment, we don't have a plan of action," he said. "We wanted a meeting so we could get the input of the community and to coincide with the revitalization of the mall."

Within the next year, Mondawmin Mall will begin expansion to include a supermarket, a restaurant and a warehouse-size specialty chain store.

The face lift of the 43-year-old mall and possible changes at the transit center will directly affect Douglass High School across Gwynns Falls Parkway from the mall.

Principal Rose Backus-Davis said nearly 95 percent of her 1,400 students use Mondawmin Transit Center. She fears that the school will be affected by the mall's revitalization because the plan might call for removing the pedestrian bridge that connects the transit center to Gwynns Falls Parkway. Davis plans to attend the meeting in hopes of finding a safer way for her students to cross the mall parking lot and Gwynns Falls Parkway.

"It's extremely dangerous. We have been blessed kids haven't been hit," she said.

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