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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a new Obama administration policy Wednesday on funding of transit projects that scraps the Bush administration's rigid cost-benefit formula and replaces it with one that takes into account issues of neighborhoood livability.

This could be big news for the Baltimore area if it lets the Maryland Transit Administration go back and revise its pending application for funding of the east-west Red Line. In that case, what  otherwise might have been a community consensus has been fractured by the need to keep the project's budget within the old guidelines. And even if it doesn't bring about a re-examination of the  decision the keep the light rail line on the surface in Canton and along West Baltimore, it could open the door to permit  the MTA to drop its unpalatable proposal to run the line on a single track under Cooks Lane.

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It was not clear Wednesday night what the MTA's view of the policy will be. We'll be seeking answers to those questions Thursday.

In the meantime, here's how LaHood summarized the new policy:

As I wrote, this could be very big for transit project nationwide. But especially here in Maryland. Stay tuned.

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