Construction workers have begun building the southern portion of the state's light-rail line, but the first trolleys are expected to arrive at least five months late.
Transportation planners and county officials had hoped the southern stretch of the Timonium-Glen Burnie line would be done in time to carry county passengers to the Orioles' opening game in April at their new Camden Yards stadium.
But snags in negotiations over the state's purchase of the old Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad have pushed back the expected opening date until next fall, said Kathleen Kohls, a Mass Transit Administration spokeswoman.
The state purchased the B&A from Kenneth Pippin for about $9 million in May, clearing the way for construction of new light-rail tracks along the old freight hauler's right of way.
The MTA awarded the 13-month, $11.7 million construction contract for the trolley's southern spur to Lane Construction Co. of Meriden, Conn.
Workers started the project last month, and trains will begin carrying passengers next September or October, Kohls said.
The southern portion of the trolley line will connect with the remainder of the light-rail system near the Baltimore City line. Light-rail service between Timonium and Camden Station is expected to begin in time for the Orioles' opening day, MTA officials say.
Trains running along the southern portion will stop at six stations: the Baltimore Highlands, Nursery Road, North Linthicum, Linthicum, Ferndale and Dorsey Road.
As the light-rail line heads south, one of those communities, Ferndale, is undergoing a major face lift.
A county revitalization plan, scheduled for next spring, includes more than $500,000 to spruce up the commercial strip lining the tracks. The ambitious plan, intended to serve as a model for similar restoration efforts throughout Anne Arundel, grew out of recommendations of a committee of business owners, lawmakers, community leaders and county planners.
It calls for replacing fading facades, a mishmash of signs and buckling pavements with a landscaped, tree-lined boulevard, new wide pavements, parking, street lights and a light-rail stop modeled after one where passengers awaited trains five decades ago.
"It's amazing what difference a few trees and some new sidewalks will make in an area," said Pat Barland, the county's commercial revitalization manager.
"It will look as though somebody cares. It will say, 'We're here and we're proud of our community, and we want it to look as good as it can.' "
The county also is offering 4.5 percent, 20-year loans to help business pay for new facades or other improvements.