A $27.3 million project to revitalize the North Avenue corridor is moving forward, as state and local officials begin the design process and reach out to the public.
The "North Avenue Rising" project, announced last July, is a joint venture by the city and state intended to improve access to jobs, medical care and schools through enhancements to public transportation.
Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh, along with other state officials, held a ceremony Thursday outside the Centre Theatre on North Avenue to mark the start of the project's design and public engagement phase.
"For far too long, a lack of reliable transit has crippled this 5-mile-long corridor of North Avenue," Hogan said.
Insufficient public transit contributed to poverty, unemployment and frustration in the area, Hogan said.
The plan calls for improvements to bus stops and Metro stations, dedicated bus lanes and street paving. Improved sidewalks and crosswalks are intended to make the high-traffic area more pedestrian-friendly.
The initiative also includes new bike lanes and bike share stations.
Better lighting, new trees and other aesthetic improvements are also part of the plan.
"The more we help our residents connect, the more access they will have to city services, employment opportunities and a better quality of life," Pugh said.
The project is part of the BaltimoreLink transit improvement plan, the Maryland Transit Administration's $135 million redesign of the region's bus system.
The North Avenue initiative is supported by a $10 million grant from the federal transportation department's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. Other funding includes $14.7 million from the state, $1.6 million from the Federal Highway Administration and $1 million from Baltimore.
The first community engagement meeting will take place from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Impact Hub Baltimore, 10 E. North Ave.