Russell Street eyed for terminal

Greyhound could begin traffic, site plan study by the end of month

March 15, 2003|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Greyhound Lines and the city are focusing on sites along a three-block stretch of Russell Street just south of Ravens Stadium in Southwest Baltimore as the location for a new central bus terminal.

Greyhound has been searching for a new location in or near downtown for more than a year, after Mayor Martin O'Malley scuttled a proposal to build a terminal north of Penn Station.

The company's lease on its terminal on West Fayette Street expires in less than three years, and the property's owner, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, wants to redevelop the site as part of the Westside Renaissance project.

A traffic and site plan study, expected to take up to four months to complete, could begin as early as the end of this month, according to company and city officials.

Another key issue to be settled is the mix of public and private money to be used in building a terminal in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area, officials said.

"I would like to get this resolved," O'Malley said yesterday of the search for a site. "I would like a terminal to be convenient for people who use bus travel."

"I think the easy access to I-95 would be a positive thing for Greyhound, provided they build a terminal as nice as they've built in some other cities," he added.

Greyhound wants a location that fronts on Russell Street and one that includes retail and office space and links with other forms of transportation, a company executive said.

If those conditions were met, "We would be proud to have a terminal there," said Lynn Brown, Greyhound's vice president for corporate communications.

"We're excited about the Carroll-Camden area and the possibilities that offers," she added. "We believe it would work."

Andrew B. Frank, executive director of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency, said a bus terminal on Russell Street would be consistent with the city's plan to encourage development in the area and could serve as an attractive gateway to the city from the south.

The city has the right to acquire up to 15 acres of land bounded by Russell Street, the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, Alluvion Street and Haines Street, Frank said.

A bus terminal would not require that much land, but just how much room it would need has to be determined, Frank said.

Among the reasons the location is attractive is its proximity to downtown and the airport as well as to a light rail line by the stadiums, Frank said. The number of Maryland Transit Administration buses in the area could be increased to provide improved connections with local service, he said.

Brown said Greyhound wanted to settle on a site as soon as possible.

"We need to move quickly so we can go from Fayette Street to our new location without an interim location," she said.

A company executive will discuss Greyhound's interest in the Russell Street corridor at a televised hearing before the City Council Wednesday, she said.

O'Malley had originally supported building a new terminal north of Penn Station. But the mayor changed his mind in December 2001 after opposition by community and business leaders, including attorney and Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, who contended it would hurt the area's chances for a rebound.

Greyhound, which serves nearly 1.5 million bus passengers in the city, also has a terminal at the Baltimore Travel Plaza on O'Donnell Street in the southeast section of the city.

But officials have said that location is too small and too far from downtown to serve as the city's bus hub.

Five million dollars in previously approved federal transportation funds are available for the project, officials said.

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