BTEC Welcomes Gov. Moore's Red Line Decision
Statement by our Baltimore affiliate, the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, June 27, 2024

After nine years of unstinting advocacy for completion of the Red Line LRT as it was approved, funded, and shovel-ready when cancelled by former Governor Larry Hogan, BTEC applauds the major step taken by the Moore administration.

There are nevertheless major steps yet to be accomplished.  BTEC continues to insist that the Red Line LRT alignment include a 3.4-mile tunnel under downtown Baltimore, which emerges as a surface system and proceeds along Edmondson Avenue then through a brief tunnel stretch at Cooks Lane and on to CMS/Woodlawn, its western terminus.

The Red Line LRT as planned will bring 10,000 jobs, dramatically reduced commute times, improved transit equity, $3.0 - $6.5 billion in transit-oriented development (TOD), pollution abatement, and defense against climate change. $2.95 billion had been assembled for its completion before its cancellation in 2015 by former Governor Larry Hogan.  When completed, the project will transform the regional economy.  Bus rapid transit (BRT) is an expense.  LRT is an investment, a revenue generator.

As LRT in a tunnel, the Red Line will factor more efficiently in the future build-out of a multi-modal, regional, transit system anchored by light rail.  As a surface system, a Red Line LRT must become a “couplet” when Pratt crosses President and becomes a street too narrow for the two-bore LRT.  One bore on Fleet Street and another on Eastern Avenue.  Therefore, a surface LRT downtown will generate delayed commutes, congestion, and confusion.

Baltimore County officials, BTEC, and county advocates foresee a light rail transit spur from Bayview, the eastern terminus of the Red Line LRT, to Sparrows Point.  Such a build out will bring equitable, reliable, rapid public transit and TOD to communities on the Bayview-to-Sparrows Point corridor.  The LRT will complement and attract rapid economic development along the route including the current burst of development at Trade Point Atlantic.

With an eastern Baltimore County LRT build out, BTEC has begun advocating for the new bridge across the Patapsco River to be built with a design that will accommodate LRT when conditions permit in the future.  An LRT crossing of the bridge will extend the east Baltimore County economic development to the underdeveloped, underserved communities in south Baltimore City. Cherry Hill, Brooklyn, Mt. Winans, etc. will benefit from the jobs and opportunities accompanying TOD.  Then on to Anne Arundel County.

Another major step the Moore administration must take concerns funding – the money.  BTEC has proposed its “Escape Velocity Revenue Generation Strategy (EVRG).”  Simply put, the state must go boldly into the bond markets and federal grants to secure the funds to meet the 2025 USDOT Red Line LRT cash call.  Not only about $2.0 billion must be available, but the state must dedicate the funds to the Red Line LRT in a tunnel project.  EVRG recruits private sector investments in public transportation expansion TOD that will generate revenue over the next six/seven decades and accelerate retirement of bond debt costs.  Nothing is faster than debt.

BTEC stands for a comprehensive vision of the Red Line LRT project and its potential to initiate “railization” of the economic potential of the region and the state.  Build the Red Line as 100% LRT in a tunnel!  Put the shovels in the ground!


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