A light-rail station anywhere near Baltimore-Washington International Airport would be an improvement for many workers using public transportation to commute from the city, local businessmen say.
"We welcome the light rail," said Sylvia Taylor, personnel director for Guest Quarters BWI hotel. "We have about 30 employees who use public transportation to get to work."
Employees often purchase a monthly bus pass, for which Guest Quarters picks up half of the $37.50 cost, Taylor said. But employees still have to catch a shuttle bus from the Mass Transit Administration stop to the hotel. The express bus, which stops within walking distance of the hotel, is more costly, Taylor added.
"Some of them take an express bus, which they catch down the street, [from the hotel] but it doesn't run very often, and it doesn't operate on weekends," Taylor said. "The other bus stop is 2 1/2 miles away."
However, life may be at least a little easier for employees in the BWI corridor if the state adopts one of several proposals to add a spur track to the 27.5-mile, $450 million light-rail line from Hunt Valley to Glen Burnie.
Linthicum residents and businesses are working with the state to save their neighborhoods from being disrupted by the light rail, while suggesting alternatives that would provide rail service to the area.
"We have submitted comments both verbally and in writing," said Nancy Van Winter, executive director of the Greater BWI Commuter Transportation Center. "We want to let [the state] know we support the light rail, but we want to find the spur best suited to this area."
With tomorrow being the deadline to submit comments for a proposed light-rail offshoot, the MTA has received testimony from 28 individuals and community representatives, and 17 letters regarding the route, spokeswoman Jackie Moore said.
During a public hearing last month, Linthicum residents told MTA officials they were not opposed to light rail, but that they objected to several alternative spurs that would take trains through residential communities and bypass many businesses.
Community members provided MTA with an alternate route more popular with area residents and businesses.
Called the "T-option" because of its shape, the route combines ++ parts of two proposals. The route would run along Nursery Road to Hammonds Ferry Road, and continue to West Nursery Road near Elkridge Landing Road and Elm Road. It would provide light-rail stops closer to businesses.
"From my point of view, [the T-option] would be better," Taylor said. "The T-option would be in walking distance for our employees. We would be in bliss."
The Anne Arundel Trade Council also supports the T-option.
Other proposals include:
* A $79.4 million route from Nursery Road to Baltimore-Washington Parkway that would require a bridge over the Beltway.
* A $27.3 million Direct Connection-North route, which would connect the main line in Linthicum at Hammonds Ferry Road, then travel through Linthicum neighborhoods along Camp Meade Road and Elm Road to the airport.
* A $31.3 million Direct Connection-South route, which would connect to the main line at Broadview Boulevard and run to Hammonds Ferry Road, where a gate would stop traffic for the rail cars. The route would then continue along Camp Meade road to Elm Road and into the airport.
Van Winter said neither direct-connection route would serve the business community directly, and both still would require employees like those at Guest Quarters to ride shuttle buses from the light-rail stops to their jobs.
"We're talking 45,000 employees at NSA, Westinghouse, five hotels and a couple of banks that would be bypassed," Van Winter said.
Anne Arundel County Councilman George F. Bachman, D-Linthicum, said he originally supported the Direct Connection-South route because he felt the other alternatives were too expensive or disruptive.
"I thought the $31 million south connection seemed like the perfect compromise," Bachman said. "Now the T-option was just recently proposed and I didn't know about it. It does sound as if it has some merit and I'd like to study it further."
While Linthicum Heights residents are still concerned over the impact the light-rail line could have on their neighborhood, Van Winter said, they also realize the benefits.
"If there's one thing everyone agrees on it's that the light rail takes people out of their cars and off their streets," she said.