The towering sign at the corner of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard andDorsey Road warns that "Light Rail is Coming Your Way." But not any time soon.
The first light rail stop in Anne Arundel County won't open until May 1993. And the line won't reach that spot at Dorsey Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard until the following August, said John Von Briesen, the Mass Transit Administration's project manager.
Meanwhile, Ferndale and Linthicum residents can watch the line take shape from their front porches.
Steel rails lie on a thick layer of stones from Baltimore Highlands, across the Patapsco River to Nursery Road in Linthicum, where crews are working on the station and grading land nearby. Already, graffiti artists with day-glo orange spray paint have left their mark on a concrete retaining wall just southof Twin Oaks Road.
By that point, the rails have disappeared, butthe stones that form the roadbed make it look as though a trolley will run there someday. And soon, the project becomes a jumble of drainage pipes, surveyors' stakes and mounds of earth between Broadview and Baltimore-Annapolis boulevards.
Crews there are fixing drainage problems in the old B&A Railroad right of way, which the light rail line follows, before they put down the first layer of stones that forms the ballast for the roadbed, Von Briesen explained.
"That line always had drainage problems," he said. "So we've had to correct that before we could do anything."
After the first layer of stone is inplace, work crews lay the rails, then bring in rail cars loaded withmore stone to tamp down what's there and add more, Von Briesen said.
The MTA had hoped to have the southern leg of the 26-mile line from Timonium to Glen Burnie finished in time to carry North County passengers to the opening-day game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
But negotiations for the 6-mile right of way in Anne Arundel dragged onfor 42 months, until the MTA agreed to pay Kenneth Pippin about $9 million for the property. Construction started last September.
Eventually, the line will make stops at Nursery Road, North Linthicum, Linthicum, Ferndale and Dorsey Road.
And while light rail construction continues on one side of the street, Ferndale businesses are getting a face lift on the other side as part of a $500,000 county effort to spruce up the commercial strip.
In one block, a crumbling sidewalk has been torn up. The jumble of faded signs and building fronts is to be replaced with a tree-lined boulevard, wider sidewalks, parking areas, bright street lights and a light rail station designed by community leaders.
Not everyone is excited about the line.
The folks who live closest to the tracks in North Linthicum are "worried about the noise," said John Squires, the community's liaison with the MTA.
And the others are nonplused, he added. "Most people say, 'Ah,it's OK,' " he said. "And the people in the houses next to the trackare worried."