The bickering about what to do to improve the transportation system in Baltimore City continues ad nauseam. Only now are politicians beginning to admit that the overriding purpose of the Red Line was to create jobs — primarily temporary jobs to stimulate the employment situation in the city ("Red Line: No Plan B," Aug.10).
This was a capital project that would have been funded by long-term debt at various levels of government. The underlying purpose of long-term government debt is not to create temporary jobs; it is to create something permanent. This type of funding only makes economic sense if the underlying goal is to create a transportation system that maximizes, to the greatest extent possible, the ability of the area to transport people, goods and services from one place to another at a cost that is consistent with that goal.
The proposed Red Line did not in any way satisfy that requirement. Creating temporary jobs only puts a Band-Aid on the problem of creating jobs in Baltimore City. Training, education and support for small neighborhood businesses are where dollars need to be invested.
The Red Line would not have maximized the connectivity from West Baltimore to East Baltimore, and the cost overruns would have been astronomical. It would have been fiscal insanity to attempt to build another tunnel through the downtown when the underground infrastructure is already crumbling. This is a subterranean infrastructure that was put in place in the 1880s and 1890s. The city is only now seriously been attempting to deal with upgrading that infrastructure.
Could a Red Line-type system work in the future? Possibly, if better connectivity between existing and planned systems were developed and the downtown underground infrastructure was stabilized and upgraded. However, the city — and the Baltimore area in general — need a better alternative now that is feasible, effective in enhancing the movement of people from place to place and justifiable on a cost basis.
Fixing the bus system is a start and it should be done. Had the Red Line been approved, the bus system would have been ignored, as usual, and that not only would have been a waste of money but a lost opportunity.
City leaders have to get on board and stop whining about the Red Line. They need to follow the lead of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and proactively search for viable solutions. The temporary job creation fix is gone. Get over it. Start developing real job opportunities. Start brainstorming real solutions to the city's transportation problems.
The Red Line is not the be all and end all of options. It was exactly that — an option. Solutions are out there, but it will take government officials who are willing to embrace all options, get out of the box and, most importantly, work together.
Carol N. Shaw, Fork