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Mayor, Cummings say Hogan should focus on Red Line, not maglev

Gov. Larry Hogan's praise this week for a high-speed magnetic levitation train didn't sit well with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who have been lobbying the governor to support the Red Line light rail project they view as a way for residents of West Baltimore to travel to jobs.

Traveling in Japan on Thursday, Hogan described his trip on a maglev train as "incredible" and announced that Maryland would seek a $28 million grant to study the possibility of a maglev line connecting Baltimore and Washington.

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"I certainly hope he doesn't allow the excitement over maglev to shift the focus away from what I believe is the real priority for our region," Rawlings-Blake told reporters Friday.

"It's nice he's impressed with maglev," Cummings said. "I'm impressed with maglev. But we've got something that we can do right now that will create jobs and allow people to get to work. I would hope that he would sign off and we can move forward."

Hogan has questioned the Red Line's affordability and said his administration is reviewing plans to build the 14-mile line between Woodlawn and East Baltimore, in part through a tunnel beneath downtown.

The project, with an estimated price tag of nearly $3 billion, has attracted commitments of about $900 million in federal funding and nearly $300 million in funding from the city and Baltimore County. The state has spent nearly $450 million on planning and design.

Hogan spokesman Matt Clark said the governor still is studying the Red Line. He said the federal grant the governor is seeking to study maglev has no impact on the Red Line decision.

The Federal Railroad Administration "has said these funds are only available for maglev projects in three corridors throughout the United States, one of which is the Baltimore-Washington corridor," Clark said. "It is also very important to be aware that that the FRA funding application is designed to support efforts by the private sector to bring maglev trains to the Northeast region."

Using maglev technology, trains can travel at speeds greater than 300 mph. A maglev trip between Baltimore and Washington could take just 15 minutes. It's estimated that a 40-mile line from Washington to Baltimore could cost around $10 billion.

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