Citizens Fight Backyard Light Rail

Linthicum Group Wants Extension Routed Through Industrial Section

April 09, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Linthicum-area leaders hope to convince state planners to build a light-rail extension through an industrial section instead of laying tracks in residential neighborhoods.

The Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association took its case against two of three proposed alignmentsto County Executive Robert R. Neall and County Councilman George Bachman yesterday to try to win their support.

Tomorrow night, the association is to decide whether to give its board of directors the go-ahead to hire a consultant to challenge state findings, should planners pick one of the two proposed routes through residential areas.

The state Mass Transit Administration begins public hearings next month on the three proposed extensions of the southern spur of the state's $446 million Hunt Valley-to-Glen Burnie line.

While the state paid for the main line, MTA officials hope federal money will cover about three-quarters of the cost of the extension.

Construction of the extension is to begin after completion of the southern spur, MTA spokeswoman Jackie Moore said.

That spur was expected to be completed next spring but could be delayed because of a negotiating snag over the price for about six miles of right-of-way owned by Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad. While continuing negotiations, the MTA has begun taking steps to condemn the railroad, arguing it is needed to serve the public interest.

Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association leaders prefer a proposed extension that wouldrun along Nursery Road, through a heavily commercial and industrial area, to the Airport Square business park near the Westinghouse Corp.plant.

But George Fink, the group's president, said many residents believe the state favors one of the other two options. Both lead through residential areas and to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Fink said preliminary MTA estimates show the alternative theassociation wants would run about 4 miles and cost more than $70 million. The other two alignments, however, would travel less than 3 miles and cost less than $30 million, he said.

He said he expects residents to turn out in force tomorrow night to oppose the two alignments that would travel through residential communities.

One would run south of Hammonds Ferry Road, while the other would be built along Broadview Boulevard, crossing Andover Road and Aviation Boulevard.

These routes would bisect neighborhoods, with the right of way running alongside and, in some cases, literally through backyards, Fink said.

"We just want to make sure that these people around here know what's going on and have their say," he said. "Everyone thinks it's adone deal, but even though the odds are against us, we've got to fight this."

Beyond the parochial interests of residents, Fink suggested, it makes little sense to send the rail line to the airport, as opposed to the nearby business park.

Few travelers flying out of BWI would lug heavy baggage on a train, Fink said. And, he suggested, few commuters would go to the trouble of taking the train to BWI, thenboarding a shuttle bus to work in the nearby business park or at Westinghouse.

He also said routing the line through a business and industrial area would allow for more business growth, while the other two alignments allow for no additional growth.

The MTA's Moore said plans for the extension remain tentative and that state planners would provide more details at next month's meetings on the extension.

Tomorrow's meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Linthicum Elementary School.

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