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The Maryland Transit Administration has hired five liaison workers to help work out issues in the communities affected by the planned construction of the east-west Red Line through Baltimore.

Henry Kay, the MTA's deputy administrator for planning, said the liaison team are undergoing training and will be introduced at a Citizens Red Line Advisory Committee meeting tonight. He said the team members have been hired as full-time consultant employees, rather than as permanent workers, and will work flexible schedules.

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"They'll be out in the community. They'll be available at night," he said.

Kay said the MTA is still in the process of refining its final application to the Federal Transit Administration for financing to build the 14-mile, $1.8 billion light rail line between Woodlawn and Bayview.

Kay said the recent change of control in the House  of Representatives will not make approval of financing for the Red Line or the $1.6 billion Purple Line in suburban Washington any easier. But he said it's too early to tell specifically what the changed congressional cllimate  will mean for the process.

Kay said the projects would have had to  compare well with others around  the country  no matter how the  election had turned out.

"They're all going to have to go through a rigorous process  to be competitive," he said. "I don't think the federal budget situation is going to help."

Even if the federal government does come up with the money for the projects, the  state is likely to have to kick in a 50 percent share -- a tall  order given the current state of the Transportation Trust Fund.

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