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Why does Hogan think he knows best on the Red, Purple lines?

The rumors that Gov. Larry Hogan may kill the Purple Line light rail project and/or the Red Line light rail project are reason to be greatly disturbed. Both projects have been studied extensively for 10 or more years. Three other governors and five secretaries of transportation have overseen and blessed the planning and development of these two projects. Both projects are well into final design and are in or approaching the bidding phase. The Federal Transit Administration has reviewed the merits of these two projects when compared with all major New Starts projects throughout the United States and have given both projects a "Medium-High" rating and have included them on the list for "New Starts Projects Recommended for Full Funding Grants" totaling $900 million for each project in both the fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016 reports to Congress.

Now, Governor Hogan has come into office saying that Maryland cannot afford these two projects and the costs must be reduced significantly. He has brought in a Secretary of Transportation from out of state who is reviewing the merits of these two projects and will be making recommendations to the governor as to their fate. Unfortunately, up until six months ago, Governor Hogan was an ordinary citizen who never held an elected public office. He never oversaw the planning and design of any transportation projects. He now has the power and the supposed wisdom to overrule the best planning and design of many professionals under the prior leadership of two Democratic governors and one Republican governor and their five secretaries of transportation. This is indeed a very troubling scenario. He claims he has the mandate to make these decisions based on one election. Yet, this decision will be impacting Maryland for generations to come.

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Historically, there have been many significant and expensive projects that have changed Maryland forever. The three-lane wide second Bay Bridge span was completed in 1973 despite being voted down in a 1966 referendum 289,418 to 248,942 against its construction. Fortunately, the governor of Maryland had the vision and leadership to continue the planning, design and construction of the second Bay Bridge. Where would we be today without the extra three lanes to cross the bay?

The Baltimore Metro and Central Light Rail were very important projects to help meet our long term transportation needs. If we were designing the full 15.5 mile Baltimore Metro and opening it up in 2022, the project would cost $3.3 billion versus the 14.1 mile Red Line project estimated to cost $2.9 billion. Even more important was the very expensive 1.5 mile extension of the Metro (all in a tunnel with two underground stations) from Charles Center to Johns Hopkins Hospital. That project, if opened in 2022 would cost $593 million. Yet, that extension to Hopkins Hospital helps the entire hospital complex and region be one of the greatest institutional employers in Maryland. If Governor Hogan looks to improve our business climate, he should just look at our past investments in important transportation systems.

The Red Line and the Purple Line are investments in the future. We should not cast away the professional expertise of more than 12 years of planning and design of some of the best transit planning companies in the world along with the leadership of three governors (two of whom served eight years) and their five secretaries of transportation because Governor Hogan, in his judgment, feels it is too expensive and not a worthy investment in his assessment during his first five months in office.

Morton Straus

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