If you've ever used the Baltimore Beltway in rush hour to get from Owings Mills to Social Security headquarters or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Woodlawn, you know it's a nightmare.
Stop-and-start backups all the way. It could take an hour or more.
Return commutes aren't any better.
A much-needed option has been in the works for 15 years — the Red Line, designed to speed commuters from the Owings Mills Metro Station or the Old Court Metro station in Pikesville to downtown. There, passengers could transfer to the east-west Red Line for speedy train trips to SSA or CMS stations in western Baltimore County.
It would take about the same time, but with no hassle, no wear-and-tear on your car and no infuriating waits in traffic with emissions from tailpipes polluting the air.
The Red Line was a critical connector route. It would have unified Baltimore's herky-jerky mass-transit lines, making it possible to travel quickly from Owings Mills not only to Woodlawn and Security Square Mall, but also to Johns Hopkins Bayview on the city-county eastern border.
Trips from our neck of the woods to trendy Canton, Highlandtown and Fells Point would have been possible without driving through downtown and trying to find a parking space near popular entertainment areas.
Yes, the Red Line would have been expensive to build. The only sensible way to take rapid transit through the downtown area is by tunnel.
That raises construction costs. Yet every urban center in the U.S. with a rapid rail system builds tunnels.
Why? Because they know this approach has lasting value. A century from now those tunnels would still be heavily used.
It also limits the ability of millennials — who don't wish to drive — to live or take jobs in the suburbs.
The only hope is that Hogan, having given the back of his hand to Baltimore, now will formulate an alternative program — perhaps busways or added service like the city's popular downtown circulator routes.
The Baltimore metro region can't stand still when it comes to mass transit. Giving residents more mobility options is essential if we want to improve this area's quality of life.