Maryland says yes to two MARC train stops in Laurel, but needs CSX approval to expand

February 1, 2016

Maryland transportation secretary Pete K. Rahn says the state supports adding a full-service MARC train station, just a few blocks north of the Laurel stop.Website Insert Start Here copy

The plan to have two MARC stops with half a mile of each other is an answer to a plea for more commuter rail service in the border area of Laurel and Howard counties where officials have cited growing traffic and transit impacts from development.  Rahn’s Jan. 20 letter to the two jurisdictions offers them hope of keeping the Laurel stop and adding a full-service station at the Laurel Park racetrack site in Howard County where a developer has proposed a mixed-use community.

“With proposed higher density at Laurel Park, parking constraints at the existing Laurel MARC station and the different transit stop options study, MDOT supports the “Double Stop” option and is in agreement with the City of Laurel and Howard County that this option best serves the interests of all parties concerned,” said Rahn, referring to an ongoing study of the corridor’s congestion.

This solution would also end a dispute between the city of Laurel in Prince George’s and Howard counties over who gets to have commuter train service.  MARC trains currently serve the historic Laurel station.  But Howard County wants a full-time stop across the city line, at the Laurel Park development. That site is already home to a flag stop — a station where the train stops only when flagged by riders.

With the backing of the state, now the jurisdictions have to convince the railroad owners, CSX Transportation, to agree to the expansion. So far, CSX hasn’t been too enthusiastic about the idea, saying that adding the Howard stop would impact its operations.

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