|Type||Light rail transit|
|Termini||Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services,
Woodlawn, Baltimore County (west)
Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, Baltimore City (east)
|Daily ridership||54,000 (anticipated by 2030)|
|Opened||Expected in 2016|
|Operator(s)||Maryland Transit Administration|
|Line length||14.5 mi (23.3 km)|
The Red Line is a proposed mass transit line for the Baltimore, Maryland area. It is still in the planning stages and its construction is not guaranteed, though most major area elected officials have stated that they are eager to see it built.
In 2001, then Secretary of Transportation John Porcari appointed a 23-member independent commission, the Baltimore Region Rail System Plan Advisory Committee, to made suggestions for new rail lines and expansions of existing lines. The proposals used a unified branding scheme for the existing lines and the proposed new lines, identifying each line by a color, as the Washington Metro and many other transit agencies do. The suggested system was comprised of six color-coded lines with an overall length of 109 miles and 122 stations, including Baltimore's existing Metro and light rail lines. In the commission's report, the Red Line was an east-west line that would begin at the Social Security Administration offices in Woodlawn in Baltimore County; travel through West Baltimore, with an intermodal stop at the West Baltimore MARC station; pass through downtown, intersecting with the existing Metro Subway and Light Rail lines; and passing through East Baltimore, with stops in the newly gentrifying neighborhoods of Fells Point, Canton, and the area around Patterson Park. The Red Line was designated by the commission as the starting component for new work on the 6-line system.
Of the commission's proposals, the Red Line was taken up with the most enthusiasm by area officials. Progress was slowed by a debate between state Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan and the Baltimore city government and Congressional delegation over the mode: Flanagan favored a bus rapid transit (BRT) solution with separate right-of-way components, like Boston's Silver Line; the other officials favored a light rail or even a heavy rail rapid transit line. In August 2009, Governor O'Malley selected light rail as the transit mode, and a modified version of "Alternative 4C" became the locally preferred alternative (LPA).
There are two features that are quite likely to be integrated into the project if it is built:
The necessary federal funding for construction of the Red Line is not yet secured. Plans currently call for a final environmental impact statement to be issued by 2011, with service estimated to start by 2016.
The alignment for the Red Line will occur as follows on an West-East Axis. Starting from the West to the East, the proposed stations are as follows:
For future extensions of the Red Line, the regional rail plan calls for the alignment to continue to Dundalk.
During the 2006 General Assembly Regular Session, various pieces of legislation creating a Citizens' Advisory Council for the Baltimore Corridor Transit Study - Red Line were proposed, and one was finally passed, receiving unanimous support in the House of Delegates and only one no vote (on the House version of the bill) in the Senate. The bill specified that the 15-member Council would be appointed.
Under the bill, the co-chairs of the Council would be chosen by the Maryland Transit Administrator from two lists of two names, one provided by the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the other by the President of the state Senate. (Ms. Angela Bethea-Spearman and Ms. Joyce Smith were nominated by the state Senate President in 5 September 2006.) All appointments on the Council were to expire at the end of the Council's life, which was specified as the time funding ran out for the Red Line or construction is completed on the route. The bill further required study of "an underground rail option", encouraged the Council to place "a priority on maintaining the Study schedule", and insisted that the "Advisory Council shall limit its review to matters within the scope of the study and any other matters identified by the Administrator."
Although Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan had stated that he had no opposition to the text of the bill (which was altered after that statement), the Governor vetoed the bill on 26 May 2006, calling it "redundant to my Executive Order," which was likewise dated 26 May 2006. The Executive Order created a Red Line Community Advisory Council of 15 members, all appointed by the Governor and serving at his pleasure. The Governor was empowered to appoint a Chair. Ms. Sandra E. Conner and Rev. John A. Heath were appointed Co-Chairs of the Council; the following were also appointed to the Council: The Honorable Clarence "Tiger" Davis, Mr. Lawrence J. Hawkins, Mr. Alvin Levi, Mr. George Moniodos, Rev. Frankie L. Powell, Mr. Daniel F. Rosen, Mr. Ezio Ross, Ms. Angela Spearman, Ms. Cecilia F. Walker, Ms. Alison Welch, and Mr. Stephen D. Whisler.
When the General Assembly returned to a Special Session in late June to consider proposed energy rate hikes, the vetoed bills regarding the creation of a Citizens' Advisory Council were brought up for overrides, and enacted over the Governor's veto by 34 to 13 (12 on the House version of the bill, although both the Senate and House versions were identical) votes in the state Senate and 94 (93 on the House version of the bill) to 43 votes in the House of Delegates.
Executive Order 01.01.2007.12 signed by Governor Martin O'Malley on 30 July 2007 disbanded the Baltimore Red Line Community Advisory Council in favor of the Citizens' Advisory Council for the Baltimore Corridor Transit Study - Red Line. The order rescinds Executive Order 01.01.2006.04 signed by former Governor Robert Ehrlich, leaving in place the Citizens' Advisory Council as the sole advisory council for the Red Line project.
Ms. Joyce Smith has since resigned, and Ms. Angela Bethea-Spearman was appointed to serve as a co-chair with Dr. Rodney Orange.
Mayor Sheila Dixon of Baltimore City called a Baltimore Red Line Summit on 10 May 2008. More than 300 community leaders, business owners, institutional representatives, environmental activists, transit riders, local government employees, and regular citizens participated. They heard presentations from local and national experts and community leaders from other cities on ways to plan for the maximum possible benefits Baltimore can achieve with the Red Line. The Summit resulted in the development of a Red Line Community Compact, signed by over 70 representatives from across the city, county, and state on 12 September 2008.
Via the Compact, the City continues to take the lead on ensuring that community and resident needs remain the primary goals for the Red Line project. The Baltimore City Department of Transportation has partnered with local organizations like Baltimore Heritage, Inc.and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) to encourage broad-based involvement from all stakeholders. Furthermore, Mayor Dixon has appointed leaders from city government, non-profit and citizen groups, and the business community to a 40 member steering committee to implement each part of the Community Compact. The Red Line Community Compact Steering Committee held their first meeting on 19 February 2009; the group is scheduled to meet quarterly throughout the life of the project.
This document is a first for any major construction - following along with one of Baltimore's nick-names, the City of firsts. The compact is an agreement between city and state officials, as well as residents and business owners on many different aspects of large transit project. No other city has created such a powerful statement by reaching out to an entire region to ensure the greatest and most positive outcome.
There are four main points the Community Compact highlights:
Put Baltimore to Work on the Red Line
Make the Red Line Green
Insist on Community-Centered Station Design, Development & Stewardship
Aggressively Plan & manage Construction to Limit Community Impacts
On 11 September 2008, the Red Line Citizens' Advisory Council voted unanimously to adopt its first report to the General Assembly, which included the statement that "Preparation of a SDEIS [Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement] should begin now, as a collaborative effort between the MTA and the public in finding the best ways to invest over a billion dollars in Baltimore's transportation infrastructure in keeping with the vision of the 2002 Plan."
On December 11, 2008, the Red Line Citizens' Advisory Council met and 9 of the 15 members of the CAC were present. At this meeting, the CAC voted to recommend MTA Alternative 4C for the Red Line Project. Of the 9 members present, 2 abstained, 2 voted against 4-C and 5 voted in favor.
On July 9, 2009, The Citizens Advisory Council met at the Holy Rosary Church. 11 members were present. A vote was taken to rescind the CAC's December 11 recommendation of Alternative 4C. A majority of 6 members voted to rescind the recommendation. However, because the discussion was put on the agenda at the previous meeting and no formal motion was made in advance, a 2/3 majority was required under Robert's Rules of Order. Therefore, CAC Chair Ms. Angela Bethea-Spearman ruled that the motion to rescind failed. A key point is that of the 5 supporters at this meeting, 3 of them are government officials.
Since late 2008, Baltimore City has favored the "4C Alternative" selected by Governor O'Malley in 2009, which has been endorsed by Mayor Sheila Dixon. This alternative is vehemently opposed by both East and West Baltimore communities because it puts surface rail tracks in residential neighborhoods.
The West-East Coalition (WEC) Against Red Line Alternative 4C, established in June 2009, represents community asociations, homeowners groups, businesses and religious groups opposed to the Alternative 4C. Its website explains that the orgization considers the proposed light rail alignment to be a detriment to communities on both the East and West sides of Baltimore.
In a letter to to Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Benjamin Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, and Mayor Sheila Dixon on July 13, 2009, the WEC described concerns about the effects of double-tracked surface rail, traffic congestion, and safety concerns.