The much-anticipated Red Line transit project, the proposed 14-mile, east-west, light rail system, took another step forward today.
The Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Wednesday with the Maryland Transit Administration outlining the City’s commitment to the project, according to a statement from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office. An estimated $2.1 billion project, the proposed light rail line will connect Woodlawn through downtown Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus.
When complete, the Red Line is expected to run every 8 to ten minutes, taking 44 minutes each way while carrying more than 50,000 riders daily. In the best case scenario, according to the project's most recent timeline, a federal funding commitment in 2015 would lead to six years of construction, concluding with operation in 2021.
From the Mayor’s press release:
“The agreement commits the City to constructing projects necessary to building the Red Line such as a widening of the Edmondson Avenue Bridge over the Gwynns Falls in West Baltimore during its planned reconstruction, and constructing the Boston Street-O’Donnell Street connector road in Southeast Baltimore. The City will also donate land currently occupied by the Departments of Public Works and General Services and acquire land for a new Red Line/Bayview MARC station.
MTA has also committed to an aggressive local workforce and contractor development program and to incorporate extensive sustainability measures in the project. MTA will also reimburse the City for certain costs related to land acquisition and technical design reviews, while the City will waive permit and document retrieval fees…
The agreement is signed for the City not only by the Mayor, but also by the Directors of Planning, Public Works, Transportation, General Services, Housing and Community Development, and Recreation and Parks, each of which will play an important role in making the Red Line a reality.”
“The Red Line will play a pivotal role in helping to grow the City,” said Rawlings-Blake. “Providing safe, attractive transportation choices – biking, walking and transit – for residents, visitors, and businesses will help to transform communities across the city, and will pay dividends for years to come.”
The Red Line has been designated for expedited review by the federal government, the Mayor’s press release noted, which will allow MTA to receive final environmental approvals by February. If approved, the federal government will cover up to 50 percent of the constructions costs. The State of Maryland would be responsible for the other 50 percent of the construction costs, according to the Baltimore Red Line project website.
According to www.gobaltimoreredline.com, MTA's current policy encourages bicycles on the entire MTA system and bicycles will be allowed on Red Line light rail cars as well.