City Councilman Edward Ricks today canceled an announcement planned for Friday about the future of Laurel's MARC train stop on Main Street.
Ricks said the announcement was postponed indefinitely so that the city could continue discussions with the Maryland Department of Transportation.
City officials had earlier announced they would hold a press conference on Friday, March 24 at the Laurel commuter train station on Main Street, with city, county and state officials scheduled to attend.
MDOT spokeswoman Erin Henson said that "there has been some movement this week on this project," but that "we were not invited to participate" in the scheduled press conference.
Led by Ricks, residents began a grassroots effort "Save Our Stop" in June 2015 after state transportation officials said they planned to move Laurel's commuter stop 2,500 feet north into Howard County and adjacent to Laurel Park racetrack, where a mixed-used development is planned. The racetrack stop has a platform, but is listed as a flag stop on the MARC Camden line schedule.
Stronach Group, owners of Laurel Park, have submitted plans for a development next to the existing Laurel Park flag stop platform in Howard County. Those plans called for making the flag stop into a full-service stop and eliminating the current MARC stop on Laurel's Main Street.
The MARC train transports passengers between Baltimore and Washington on weekdays. While freight transportation company CSX owns the tracks, the MARC train is operated by the Maryland Transit Administration.
The "Save Our Stop" effort garnered the attention and support of state and county elected officials, including District 21 Sen. Jim Rosapepe and Dels. Barbara Frush and Joseline Peña-Melnyk; and Prince George's County Councilwoman Mary Lehman.
In January 2016, the city of Laurel found an ally in Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, who wrote a joint letter with Ricks addressed to Brian Hammock, CSX vice president of government affairs. The letter discussed how two train stops could be maintained to serve both Howard County and Laurel. A county spokesman said Thursday that Kittleman was not planning to attend the scheduled Friday announcement in Laurel.
The idea was also supported by MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn; however, CSX officials disagreed with the proposal, because of possible disruptions to its operations.
This story has been updated.