The word “promise” has many definitions. One indicates commitment, a “promise” to follow a course of action. Another anticipates excellence, something that shows great “promise.” When our city, county, community, state and federal partners gathered to announce the relaunch of the Baltimore Red Line, we celebrated both meanings of that word.
The Red Line is a promise to connect East Baltimore to West Baltimore — and beyond — through affordable public transit, and it’s a promise to unleash the full potential of the residents of the city and the county.
It is a promise to deliver better, cleaner and faster travel to jobs, schools and businesses — a service especially critical for nearly 1 in 3 Baltimoreans who don’t have access to a car and depend on transit for work, education, groceries and health care.
It is a promise to shed a history of neglect, disinvestment and disenfranchisement that has burdened Baltimore’s neighborhoods for generations.
It is a promise to lift the residents of the entire Baltimore region and help us realize the limitless potential of our communities by delivering the high-quality, efficient, equitable and more reliable transit that our people deserve.
We stand united in our commitment to fulfill this promise — as neighbors, leaders and public servants who understand the life-changing impact that effective transportation can provide. And we have unwavering support for the Red Line from our congressional delegation and the Biden administration.
By collaborating across all levels of government, we’ve already seen success in rectifying historical wrongs ingrained in Baltimore infrastructure. Together, we are finally on our way to undoing mistakes of the past such as the Highway to Nowhere, and such action will be transformational for the communities it has harmed for decades.
Now, the stars are aligned for us again. We are ready to get the Red Line project back on track.
But we also recognize the debate, frustration, delay and denial that have consumed the Red Line for decades. It has already required significant work to unwind the mess caused by the previous administration’s cancellation of the project in 2015. Time has not eased demand for the services the Red Line would provide. Today, many of the Maryland Transit Administration’s top bus ridership routes travel along the Red Line corridor.
Our neighbors are calling for the Red Line, and we have a responsibility to answer that call with swift action. Going forward, we will build on the technical work and community participation of the past while modernizing the plan to reflect our region’s incredible growth and future aspirations.
We will also approach this work with respect for the neighborhoods the Red Line is intended to uplift. The future of the Red Line will be built on a foundation of community interaction and involvement. As we move in the coming months to identify a preferred route and explore light rail, bus rapid transit, tunnel and street-level options, the state will be ramping up outreach efforts to all Baltimoreans so we can consider all ideas.
This process will take time, but Maryland is not waiting to make transit improvements in the Baltimore region. Even as we undertake the thoughtful and necessary process to revive the Red Line, the Moore-Miller administration will act immediately to enhance our East-West transit connections.
Right now, the Maryland Transit Administration is moving to upgrade bus stops and make real-time information more accessible to riders. This fall, the QuickLink 40 service will provide faster, better transportation between Westgate and Essex. Maryland will also leverage a recent federal grant to help provide dedicated bus lanes and pedestrian improvements to make transit more accessible and connected.
Recognizing the transformational impact of the ongoing industrial revival in Sparrows Point, the MTA will also launch the Eastern Baltimore County Access Study. An expansion into eastern Baltimore County reflects the region’s significant growth since the Red Line was halted nearly a decade ago, and will better connect residents with the immense employment opportunities at Tradepoint Atlantic — the largest multimodal site in the Baltimore-Washington market and one of the nation’s leading emerging job centers.
For this to be Maryland’s decade, it has to be Baltimore’s time. And for it to be Baltimore’s time, we need to invest in a world-class transit network that serves residents all across the region. The Red Line will help us do exactly that by expanding job and educational opportunities, unleashing economic and residential growth, promoting our businesses and neighborhood attractions, and empowering us to live more conveniently and sustainably.
Marylanders deserve this. We are witness to neighbors in many communities along the east-west corridor who have endured neglect and yet have never lost hope. Every day, they lift themselves, their families and their communities — and they continue to seek the promise of opportunities too long deferred.
Opportunity must be accessible to all if we are to meet our full potential as a state that leaves no one behind. Now is the time to deliver on our promise — and deliver the Red Line.
Wes Moore is the 63rd governor of Maryland.
Brandon Scott is the 52nd mayor of Baltimore.
Johnny Olszewski is the 14th Baltimore County executive.