Linthicum civic leaders are rallying support for a newly discovered light rail extension that would serve commercial and industrial areaswithout disrupting the North Linthicum community.
The extension is a modified version of one of three routes -- the Nursery Road alignment -- being considered by the Mass Transit Administration. It was one of the nine options initially proffered by the MTA.
"The community discovered this earlier alternate whose benefits hadn't been realized before," said John Erdman, a Towson transportation consultant hired by the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association. "Now they want the MTA to reconsider that alternate."
The modifiedNursery Road option would connect with the state's $446 million HuntValley-to-Glen Burnie line at Nursery Road in North Linthicum. The extension would run along Nursery Road, cross Hammonds Ferry Road and continue along West Nursery Road to the Airport Square business park,near Elkridge Landing Road and Elm Road, to an airport parking lot.
Unlike the Nursery Road alignment now being considered by the MTA,this modified version would not run along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and would not require a bridge over the Baltimore Beltway.
North Linthicum and Crestwood residents object to the bridge, saying it would bring trains too near their houses. "We don't want (the alternate) with the bridge. We won't support that kind of impact on a community," said Susan March, a member of the board of directors of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association.
Although it would be less disruptive, the modified Nursery Road alignment probably will be just as expensive as the original version, estimated at $79.4 million,Erdman said.
The two other extensions being considered by the MTAare much less costly, but they run through Linthicum neighborhoods. Both are opposed by Linthicum-Shipley and other community associations.
The "direct connection north," estimated at $27.3 million, would connect with the main line in Linthicum at Hammonds Ferry Road, travel through Linthicum, passing Andover High School, then along Camp Meade Road to Old Stony Run Road and Elm Road to the airport.
The "direct connection south," also running through Linthicum neighborhoods, would connect with the main line at Broadview Boulevard and cross Hammonds Ferry Road, where a gate would stop traffic for trains. Trains would then continue along Camp Meade Road and Elm Road to the airport. The route would cost $31.3 million.
State and county officials favor these options because of the cost.
But Erdman said the Nursery Road option would provide much more extensive service than the north or south connections. The latter two would serve only the airport, while the Nursery Road option would bring trains to the industrialand business areas northwest and southwest of BWI as well as to the airport itself.
Erdman and Linthicum area citizens believe most potential commuters work in these industrial and business areas.
"We're not telling them to take the light rail and stick it," March said. "What we've said is that you've got to serve the people who are going to ride it, and not make it a dead-end trip to the airport."
Citizens spoke in favor of the modified Nursery Road alignment last month at public hearings before the MTA. The agency is accepting writtencomments on the light rail extension until July 26. Then it will begin preparing a formal response to the issues raised during the comment period.
In the meantime, the Linthicum-Shipley association is trying to form a coalition with surrounding neighborhoods -- North Linthicum, Crestwood, Linthicum Heights, Linthicum Oaks and Woodlawn Heights -- to support the modified Nursery Road alignment.