Have questions about the Red Line? Go to one of these meetings

Published 7/24/2023 3:28 p.m. EDT, Updated 9/7/2023 3:31 p.m. EDT

The Maryland Transit Administration is relaunching the planning process for the proposed Red Line east-west route in Baltimore.

The Maryland Transit Administration is holding five open house meetings this week at community spaces along parts of the proposed Red Line corridor.

The sessions will provide transit users and community members the opportunity to provide MTA with comments and feedback about all things Red Line. MTA officials will be prepared to discuss several pieces of the planning and implementation process , including the environmental impact study and potential tunnel construction, according to a Monday press release.

Last month, Gov. Wes Moore officially relaunched plans for the east-west megaproject, kicking off his quest to deliver on a high-profile campaign promise to Baltimore.

His predecessor, former Gov. Larry Hogan, famously canceled what was then a 14-mile light rail project to connect East and West Baltimore through downtown, calling the project a “wasteful boondoggle.” He returned $900 million in federal funds allocated for the line and used state money set aside for it for suburban highway projects.

The “stolen” Red Line, as some community members and transit advocacy organizations refer to it, had an estimated cost just shy of $3 billion. Several factors will go into determining a final price tag for the relaunched Red Line, including inflation and whether officials decide to pursue light rail as before or make it a bus line.

In an interview after the announcement, Moore said, “If we can put everything in place, we’ll be able to begin construction in 2026, 2027, and we’re going to move as fast as humanly possible to be able to complete this.”

The relaunch “will build upon the technical work and community engagement conducted prior to the 2015 cancellation of the project, as well as the recent work completed under the Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan East-West Corridor Study in 2021 and 2022,” according to the MTA press release.

First publicly identified as a need in 2002, the Red Line has gone through multiple rounds of public comment, community input, and — yes — open houses. Some of the same open house locations, like the Baltimore War Memorial and Hampstead Hill Academy, hosted similar meetings as far back as 2004.

“We want to make sure we are connecting with current residents because things have changed in the last 10 years,” said Veronica Battisti, communications director with MTA. “We’re not starting from square one, but we do have a federal process to go through, and we want to make sure that we are doing that.”

Battisti said MTA looks forward to gathering feedback on three issues in particular: transit mode (should the Red Line be light rail or bus?), tunneling concerns, and alignment (where exactly should it go?).

“We encourage the meetings, but we want to make sure the meetings do elaborate on the demarcation between the Hogan administration and the Moore administration on transit policy,” said Samuel Jordan, president of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition.

The sessions kick off on Wednesday:

  • July 26, 4 to 6 p.m. in Harcum Hall at St. Bernadine Church, 614 Mount Holly St., Baltimore, accessible via CityLink Blue and LocalLink 77, 78
  • July 27, 3 to 7 p.m. at the Baltimore War Memorial 101 N. Gay Street, Baltimore, accessible via CityLink Blue, Orange, Purple, LocalLink 67, 76, 78, 80, 105, 150, 160, commuter buses 210, 215, 310, 420
  • July 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at University of Maryland Biopark, 801 West Baltimore St., Baltimore, accessible via CityLink Orange, Purple, LocalLink 78
  • July 31, 3 to 7 p.m. at Woodlawn High School, 1801 Woodlawn Drive, Baltimore, accessible via CityLink Blue, LocalLink 31, 37, 79
  • August 1, 3 to 7 p.m. at Hampstead Hill Academy, 500 S. Linwood Ave., Baltimore, accessible via CityLink Navy

This story was updated to reflect a scheduling change by the MTA for the community meeting at Woodlawn High School, and to include the correct name of the Maryland Transit Administration.

Daniel Zawodny covers transportation for The Baltimore Banner as a corps member with Report For America, a national service organization that places emerging journalists with local newsrooms that cover underreported issues.

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