Light rail, hard choices Glen Burnie: Rather than destroy homes or inflate costs, MTA should reconsider B&A; trail alignment.


BRINGING LIGHT rail into Glen Burnie should enhance the community. Yet neither of the two alignments being considered to extend the line that now runs from Hunt Valley in Baltimore County to Baltimore-Washington International Airport would accomplish this goal. Before the process continues, state Mass Transit Administration officials should re-examine an option they rejected earlier.

The MTA is weighing the circuitous 8th Avenue route, favored by the Glen Burnie Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Avenue alignment, which would destroy Glen Burnie's most picturesque residential street. Neither of these is satisfactory.

The highly impractical 8th Avenue route recommends a loop around Glen Burnie, which would double construction costs to $43 million and add 10 minutes to the trip from the Cromwell Station stop. Meanwhile, the proposed route via Georgia Avenue would require demolition of 14 houses and cleave Glen Burnie. This destruction would offset the benefits gained by bringing light rail into the town center, no sooner than 10 years from now.

If we have learned one thing from 40 years of interstate highway construction, it is that these projects should not butcher communities. Too many of these roads were rammed through the hearts of neighborhoods with devastating results. Light rail engineers should not repeat the errors.

Last summer, Gov. Parris N. Glendening rejected the alignment that would have placed light rail beside roughly a mile of the B&A; hiker-biker path. Built in a former railroad bed, the trail in less than a decade has evolved into one of Anne Arundel's most popular recreation assets. The B&A; alignment wouldn't change that. With creative engineering and imaginative screening, the impact on the trail could be minimized.

Whatever its shortcomings, this alternative wouldn't mar Glen Burnie or increase the cost to impractical levels, making it more attractive than the two options under consideration.

Pub Date: 5/27/98

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