If You Build It, They Will Come, But Only If They’re Allowed to Build More Stuff

Dave Murphy considers the proposal to extend the Green Line out to Fort Meade. The idea has some compelling promise largely because “Fort Meade is the largest job center in the state of Maryland, and it is currently unserved by transit” so that could bring some considerable benefits. But of course Fort Meade’s also a bit far away from where the Green Line currently goes, so an important question becomes whether you can make the intermediate steps into anything useful:

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Here I think the key thing to keep in mind is that when you’re talking about new heavy rail construction, the potential benefits can be quite large but you have to decide if you actually want to seize them. This is the area around one of the proposed stations:

If you added a Metro station there, would the local area permit the surrounding quarter mile or so developed as a fairly dense walkable community? Or would people hear about proposals to build on the green space and up-zone the built-up area and decide that would lead to too much traffic? Maybe instead they’ll want to just turn the undeveloped patch into another parking lot. That’d be no good. And the existing land use patterns around Maryland’s Green Line stations don’t inspire a ton of confidence.