Rawlings-Blake backs NAACP complaint against Hogan over Red Line

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday said she supports the federal complaint filed by a coalition of civil rights groups against the Hogan administration, contending that its killing of Baltimore's Red Line light rail project discriminates against African-Americans.

"This is not a personal attack at Governor Hogan. I’m not trying to politicize this issue," Rawlings-Blake told reporters at City Hall. "There is a clear need for a public transportation system that works for the city of Baltimore. For years, the state has attempted and failed to meet their obligation here. We can see there is a gap between the need and what is provided. ...  I’ve yet to see anything from the state that effectively closes those gaps." 

In a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the coalition, which is led by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, argued that canceling the project was one in a series of racially discriminatory transportation decisions Maryland has made over many decades.

"The cancellation of the Red Line, rather than being a cost-saving measure, was simply a naked transfer of resources from the project corridor's primarily African-American population to other rural and suburban parts of the state," the complaint says.

The east-west rail line would have extended 14 miles between Woodlawn and Bayview.

The complaint, which is backed by the ACLU of Maryland, asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch an investigation into Gov. Larry Hogan's decision in June to block construction of the $2.9 billion transit project.

A Hogan spokesman has called the complaint's assertions "nothing more than a press release."

"The Red Line didn't move forward because it was poorly designed and simply unaffordable, with at least a billion-dollar tunnel running through the heart of the city," spokesman Doug Mayer said. He added that the is "fully committed to improving transportation in Baltimore," pointing in part to the governor's plan to spend $135 million on a bus route overhaul.

In announcing the death of the Red Line in June, Hogan's Twitter account sent out a map of Maryland did not include Baltimore, and made it look as if the city was underwater as part of the Chesapeake Bay. Hogan's staff later deleted the image and said it was not representative of the governor's support of the city.

Rawlings-Blake made reference to the map in her comments Wednesday.

"The state has an obligation to provide for public transportation needs for the entire state," she said. "Although they eliminated us from their transportation map, Baltimore City is a part of the state of Maryland. They have to fulfill that obligation."



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