Light-rail line gets heavy criticism at hearing

October 26, 1990|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

With construction of the $446 million, 22-mile Central Light Rail Line well under way and the line due to open in the spring of 1992, the prospects of halting it seem dim.

But that did not stop opponents from hurling criticism at a public hearing yesterday Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

Maryland Transportation Administration officials called the meeting for comments on a joint federal-state study of possible routes and impacts of the proposed 3-mile light-rail extension from Timonium to Hunt Valley Mall.

That report suggests three possible alignments, and includes as alternatives increased bus service and a "no build" option.

The three-mile leg was planned as a separate project, and seeks federal funding -- unlike the main, 22-mile portion of the project, which is funded entirely with state and local money.

State officials separated the extension from the main project to avoid delays likely from a federal environmental impact study. The state, instead, performed its own environmental study.

Among those testifying at the hearing was William S. Sheppard, Republican candidate for governor. He said that if elected he would immediately halt the entire project.

Sheppard questioned the need for the expensive project. He said he is not satisfied the ridership is there to make the project cost effective.

Robert Macht, a Ruxton resident who sued to stop the project, cited a federal and state study showing that the Hunt Valley extension route would not reduce traffic congestion or air pollution.

Macht and others called for a federal environmental impact study on the entire light-rail project.

The MTA will continue to accept written comments from the public until Nov. 8. If the MTA decides on a Hunt Valley extension, a route would have to be approved by federal officials.

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