O'malley Expected To Back Red Line Plan With Some Tunnels

August 04, 2009|By a Baltimore Sun reporter

Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to announce today his support for an east-west Red Line plan that has won the support of the Baltimore city and county governments: light rail with some tunneling, but not enough to satisfy critics.

The governor will make his announcement of the state's choice for the Woodlawn-to-Bayview transit line during a morning event at the West Baltimore MARC station. That plan will be sent to the federal government to compete for funding. Several rapid bus options are officially still in the running but have won little local support.

O'Malley will arrive aboard a MARC train from New Carrollton, where he will make a similar announcement about a Washington suburban project known as the Purple Line. Both projects carry price tags of $1 billion or more.

While gubernatorial aides would not tip their hand on the governor's Red Line choice, the guest list for the Baltimore event included many public supporters of what is known as Alternative 4C: light rail in a tunnel under downtown, Inner Harbor East, Fells Point and Cooks Lane but otherwise on the surface.

That alternative has drawn vehement opposition from neighborhoods where the trains would run at street level, along Edmondson Avenue in West Baltimore and Boston Street in Canton.

But unlike alternatives with more tunneling, the 4C option could be modified to fit within the rigid federal funding guidelines that apply to new transit projects, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Largely for that reason, that option won the support of Mayor Sheila Dixon, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Fry has been invited to the event and will attend. Dixon spokesman Scott Peterson said the mayor was invited but is on vacation and will be represented by Deputy Mayor Andrew Frank and other administration officials. Smith will be represented by several high-ranking members of his administration, according to spokesman Don Mohler.

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