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Brewing up interest in the Red Line

The Baltimore Brew blog has been giving a lot of coverage to the proposed Red Line lately -- ranging from the truly informative to the plainly misleading.

Well worth reading is city official Jamie Kendrick's attempt to dispel what he calls myths about the Red Line. For the most part, Kendrick sticks to the facts, but he's a little too glib in dismissing concerns about a single-track Cooks Lane tunnel. Some of the rhetoric about it being a "death tunnel" strikes me as overblown, but the Maryland Transit Administration does bear the burden of proving  such an arrangement is safe. That doesn't mean they can be expected to do so this week. The signaling and fail-safe systems haven't even been designed yet. But at some point the MTA will have to specify exactly what it will do to prevent a head-on collision from ever happening. The jury is out on that, and many of those weighing in with great certainty have no credentials to support their assertions.

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Nathaniel Payer of the Transit Riders Action Council does a good job of making the case against the Red Line but he loses me when he talks about how the state could scrap the current proposal at a cost of only 18-24 months' delay. That's an ultra-rosy scenario.  Also, the notion that the Red Line could go it alone -- with no use of federal financing -- shows a naivete about state politics. Try explaining that decision in Annapolis or Rockville.

Payer's attempt to demonize "the developers" also strikes me as shallow. Cities need developers. Some are jerks; some are civic heroes. Either way, they have a vital part to play in the transit planning process. The populist rhetoric detracts from the credibility of Payer's other arguments.

I'm frankly puzzled by the fact the Brew would publish a Neighborhood Voices artticle perpetuating the falsehood that the Red Line would displace residents. You can criticize the project on any number of valid grounds, but that article did  nothing more than spread disinformation. Correcting that impression in a separate article doesn't cut it. Giving a lie and the truth equal time isn't fairness.

The best of the Brew's coverage comes from my former colleague Ann LoLordo, whose profiles of Dan Tracy and Ben Rosenberg -- two Canton residents on opposite sides of the debate -- accurately reflect the views and passions of people in the community.

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