Extending from South Baltimore north to the Baltimore Beltway, Charles Street is one of Baltimore City's premier streets. It is also now listed as a Maryland Scenic Byway. The North Charles Street boulevard portion, between 29 th Street and University Parkway, is lined with residential, commercial, academic/institutional, and religious organizations and is one of the more beautiful sections of this important street. Although the current design by Wyatt and Nolting completed in the early 1900's was not without controversy (reference Charles Street, A Boulevard Revisited - produced by David Holden for the Friends of Maryland's Olmsted Parks and Landscapes, Inc., 2000), the street has continued to serve increasing land use, traffic, pedestrian and parking demands.
Landmarks along the boulevard portion of North Charles Street include the Wyman Park Dell and Charles Village Community, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Johns Hopkins University, and several religious institutions. Unfortunately, the current plan and lane utilization dating from an early 20th Century design, when combined with today's traffic volumes, speeds and heavy pedestrian crossings, merits serious reassessment and re-evaluation. Master Plans previously prepared for Charles Village, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and Johns Hopkins University have identified the need to improve North Charles Street.
In response, Baltimore City initiated studies in 1999 to reconfigure North Charles Street between 25th Street and University Parkway. Following presentation of the City's selected plan on June 24th, 2002, several institutions and organizations expressed concern that the selected plan needed to better address pedestrian safety and traffic calming. Although the June 2002 plan was the result of a public planning process conducted in 2000 and 2001 and addressed traffic capacity, pedestrian safety, preservation/enhancement of greenspace, and retention of parking, the City agreed that refinements to the selected plan merited further discussion.
Under the direction of then-Deputy Mayor Laurie Schwartz and Office of Transportation Director Alfred H. Foxx, Jr., then-Mayor Martin O'Malley authorized a 60-day effort to reassess the City of Baltimore's selected plan for the reconstruction of North Charles Street from 25th Street to University Parkway. Working closely with the 6 key Stakeholder Groups, David Wallace was tasked with directing this reassessment effort. The work product of this effort was the Concept Plan report dated January 7, 2003. During the balance of 2003, Baltimore City representatives completed follow-up studies and confirmed the basic lane arrangement as recommended in the January 7, 2003 Concept Plan report (see correspondence for a summary of these meetings held in 2003). By letter dated March 5, 2004 and on behalf of then-Mayor Martin O'Malley, Director of Transportation Alfred H. Foxx reactivated the planning studies for the reconstruction of Charles Street from 25th Street north to University Parkway.
The planning and conceptual design studies focused on impacts to residents, pedestrians, and traffic and documentation of cultural and historic resources in conformance with NEPA criteria. The resulted in a November 10, 2005 set of documents. However, the resulting cost estimate was significantly higher than the City's available budget.
To address this issue, the City requested a Value Engineering study be undertaken to determine which aspects of the project could be modified to reduce the cost while retaining the roadway's functionality and maintainability. The study was completed in April 2008 and recommended several adjustments to the design, most notably closing this portion of Charles Street for the duration of the construction. Implementing these changes was expected to save over $6 M and conform the project to the $25 M budget. The City then approved transition into Final Design in late 2008.
However, budgetary constraints continued to afflict the project and the Final Design effort was suspended in early 2009. The last hurdle for approval of the Final Design effort is in sight and the project design was resumed in January 2010.
Since January 2010, the design team has completed detailed design drawings, coordination with the 1% for Art artistic design and final stakeholder interaction.
This website presents the on-going status of this project.
|Traffic Pattern Phases|
|Traffic and Construction Updates|
|Transit Bus Diversion Map|
|Frequently Asked Questions|
|Charles Street Businesses|
|Final Design Display|