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Cummings: Stay course on Red Line

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings told a Greater Baltiimore Committee Transportation Committee that he is optimistic that Congress will scrap a rigid federal formula that has complicated the process of planning the Maryland Transit Administration's proposed Red Line.

That might sound to good news to critics of the most likely alternative for the Woodlawn-to-Bayview line, which would run light rails cars on the surface along Edmondson Avenue and Boston Street in order to save money on tunnel construction in order to meet the Federal Transit Administration's cost-benefit formula.

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However, Cummings said Maryland should move ahead with its effort to gain federal funding for the Red Line under the old rules. He rejected calls for the state to delay the project in order to see whhat new rulles Congress and the Obama administration might adopt.

"I think we're going to have to move forward on the schedule that we're on," said the powerful 7th District Democrat, a subcommittee chairman on the House panel that is drafting the new, multi-year transportation authorization bill scheduled to expire this year.

Though many of his constituents in the Edmondson Avenue corridor oppose building the Red Line unless it runs in a tunnel thought their neighborhood, Cummings said it is vital to keep the Red Line planning process on track.

"Whatever we do, I do not want to hold up the Red Line. I think the Red Line has been held up long enough," Cummings said.

The alternative that has won support from Baltimore, Baltimore County and the GBC is one that would run light raiil in a tunnel under Cooks Lane in West Baltimore, downtown and Fells Point but come out of the ground along Edmondson Avenue and in Canton. The plan has sparked vocal protests in Canton as well as West Baltimore.

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