The current MARC station at Camden Yards
The current MARC station at Camden Yards.

Maryland is $7.5 million closer to building a new MARC train station at Camden Yards to replace the “temporary” one that opened in 1992.

Maryland Stadium Authority executive director Michael Frenz notified board members this week that Maryland has secured a $7.5 million federal grant to help fund construction of a new, permanent Camden Yards station for the Maryland Area Regional Commuter’s Camden line, which runs between Baltimore and Washington D.C.

The Maryland Transit Administration, part of the state’s Department of Transportation, has been seeking federal funds to replace the current station and will be the recipient of the funds. The stadium authority owns the land where the station will be constructed, as part of the 85-acre Camden Yards sports complex.

The current station consists of two prefab trailers topped by a space frame roof on the east side of the B & O Warehouse and north of historic Camden Station. It opened to coincide with the debut of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

At the time, state officials said the temporary station would eventually be replaced with a permanent one. The architects of Oriole Park designed a ‘retro’ station in keeping with the old-fashioned design of the ballpark, but it was never built.

The station is the northern terminus of MARC’s Camden line. According to state officials, it serves several hundred MARC riders on weekdays and additional riders on weekends.

Under Gov. Larry Hogan, state officials began exploring options for replacing the utilitarian structure with a train station that would be more consistent in quality with the rest of Baltimore’s Camden Yards sports complex. Frenz noted earlier this year that the current station was never meant to last as long as it has.

“For a long time, we didn’t necessarily feel it reflected the aesthetic of our property,” he said in June.

Thomas Kelso, chairman of the stadium authority, asked during a board meeting this week whether the stadium authority would manage construction of the station, as it does for many other state projects. “They ought to ask us,” he said.

Jan Hardesty, public information officer for the stadium authority, said the $7.5 million federal grant most likely won’t cover the entire cost of the replacement station. She said it is unclear how much more money will be needed because the station hasn’t been designed yet and firm cost estimates aren’t available.

Hardesty said the state’s plan calls for the new station to be built where the current station is and for a temporary station to be created while construction is underway. She noted that a repurposed railroad car was used when the current station was under construction.

Hardesty referred other questions about the project to Michael Helta, project development manager with the Maryland Transit Administration.

Helta said in June that the state doesn’t plan to build the old-fashioned train station that was designed in the 1980s. He said conditions have changed over the past 25 years and the MTA wants to explore other options.

“That was 30 years ago,” when the traditional looking stadium was designed, he said. “Times have changed…Why not give it a fresh look?”

Helta said in June that preliminary design work for the state was being carried out “in-house” and that a construction timetable would be contingent on the availability of funding. He could not be reached this week to answer additional questions about the project.


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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.