"They have not done a study of all reasonable alternatives as required by federal law," said Christopher Field, president of the Transit Riders Action Council of Metropolitan Baltimore. "The Red Line is supposed to be a regional transportation line, not a local line, and light rail is much more suitable for a local line."
MTA and Dixon administration officials say one of the reasons for community resistance to light rail on the Red Line is the negative impression left by the north-south Central Light Rail Line that opened in the early 1990s.
Dixon said light rail now uses a far more advanced technology. "It's a more quiet type of car. It's a smaller type of car," she said.
Aides said Dixon is pledging "strategic investments" in the Edmondson Avenue corridor to complement the surface Red Line, including $24 million for redevelopment and infrastructure in the Uplands neighborhood; $1.65 million for street lights in Ten Hills, Hunting Ridge, Dickeyville and Historic Franklintown; and $1.05 million for development and streetscaping around the West Baltimore MARC station.
WHY THIS OPTION?
Supporters cite these reasons, among others, for backing Red Line Alternative 4C:
* Light rail would attract more riders than "bus rapid transit," the other method under consideration.
* The 4C plan includes tunneling where surface tracks would disrupt traffic the most - downtown, Fells Point and Cooks Lane.
* The 4C plan would cost about $600 million less than another that relies more on tunnels, enabling it to meet a federal cost-benefit test.
* Where light rail is on the surface, it can be the centerpiece for community development and part of a strategy for diverting car traffic onto transit or onto routes that avoid residential communities.
* New light rail systems bear little resemblance to the 1990s north-south line through Baltimore.