Light-rail train will make run on Schaefer time-or no time


How do you stop a moving train? One way is to make sure Gov. William Donald Schaefer can't be on board.

A VIP preview of the new Central Light Rail Line with top city officials and members of the news media planned for Tuesday was abruptly canceled yesterday at the insistence of the governor's staff.

According to sources, the governor was unhappy that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, City Council members, selected state officials and business leaders would have a chance to ride the light rail from Centre Street to Camden Yards without him.

Governor Schaefer is scheduled to attend the National Governors Association meeting in Washington that morning.

Brian Lewbart, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership, which was sponsoring the light-rail event, confirmed that the tour has been postponed until mid-February, but he declined to elaborate.

The Downtown Partnership, a public-private organization that promotes the downtown merchant trade, had organized the event to promote plans to clean up and improve Howard Street in preparation for the opening of the light-rail line this spring.

"It's just a scheduling thing," said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's chief of staff. "When they originally scheduled [the light-rail preview] we had no way of knowing the NGA had scheduled their winter meeting in Washington."

The $446.3 million light-rail system was financed primarily by state transportation funds, and Governor Schaefer has been the line's chief backer. The system is set to open for limited service by the Orioles' opening day, April 6.

Clinton R. Coleman, a spokesman for Mayor Schmoke, said the mayor was not bothered by the governor's actions.

"It's his project and his right to be a part of it," Mr. Coleman said. "That's the way politicians are."

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