Governor Martin O’Malley announced on March 5 the Baltimore Red Line has received federal environmental approval. The Federal Transit Administration’s approval is called a record of decision. It makes the project eligible for future federal funds.
The Baltimore Red Line project is the first major expansion of the Baltimore region’s transit network since the early 1990’s. The 14.1 mile transit line will connect the areas of Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fell’s Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus. It will have 19 stations.
The record of decision was issued by the Federal Transit Administration based on information presented in a Final Environmental Impact Statement completed last December. It marks the end of a rigorous and extensive process to identify and avoid, minimize or mitigate possible impacts to communities, historic buildings and natural resources such as parks, wetlands and trees.
“This is a big day for the Red Line and the future of transit in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “Now we must move to our next challenge which is providing the state funds necessary to keep this project moving. Without an increase in transportation funding, work on the Red Line will come to a halt later this year as the state dollars simply aren’t there to continue. We can avoid this by passing the transportation package I introduced this week along with Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch. Under our proposal we can continue to move these projects forward, demonstrate our commitment to the project and remain in a position to compete for federal construction funds. The bill also requires the study of regional transportation authorities that, along with public private partnerships, could be part of a final funding plan for construction of the project.”
On March 4, Governor O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch unveiled a plan to increase investment in Maryland’s transportation system, relieve congestion, and create jobs. House Bill 1515 would raise $3.4 billion over five years to support up to 44,000 jobs.
According to its website, the Baltimore Red Line will cost $2.5 billion. It is expected to be constructed between 2015 and 2021 and to create 9,800 direct construction and related jobs during this period. Expected ridership by 2035 is over 50,000 passengers daily.
Photo credits: www.baltimoreredline.com