We have an opportunity to do better than the Red Line
Thanks to Sens. Cardin and Van Hollen for recognizing the importance of additional public transit options for Baltimore in the proposed Infrastructure bill before Congress and another thanks to The Sun’s editorial board for injecting some much needed reality into what this might mean for the Red Line.
This is an opportunity to rethink better and less costly options for additional east-west transit rather than expect the “resurrection” of the Red Line in its entirety. For example, the portion of the original Red Line from Woodlawn could be easily implemented with a terminal stop at the Lexington Market Metro and light rail stops, the least expensive segment with minimal tunneling. From there, a new plan should consider less costly incremental expansions of both Metro, light rail and express bus service to serve Baltimore rather than the one single, too expensive line that the Red Line represented. Another useful segment would be to extend surface light rail from Penn Station along a rebuilt lower “JFX boulevard” to terminate at Inner Harbor East. If advocates for the Red Line continue to only focus on the prior plan, I am afraid we will have lost the opportunity the senators have proposed.
Alfred W. Barry III
The writer is a principal at AB Associates, a strategic planning firm, and former assistant planning director of the Baltimore City Planning Department.
A resurrected Red Line: the answer to Highway to Nowhere problems?
The writer of the editorial “Red Line resurrection odds slim, but better east-west transit is achievable,” (Aug. 3) has been slumbering like Rip Van Winkle. This writer seems to think that one suburban style pod in Greektown kills the concept of the rest of the path of the Red Line.
Numerous articles have appeared on this paper’s opinion pages this year pondering what is to be done with the east/west Highway to Nowhere. This could be something better than a park, like a branch of the Red Line that could connect downtown to the Social Security Administration, Baltimore County’s biggest employer. It seems comically inept that the Baltimore area is the headquarters of this large bureaucracy with no public transit access to it aside from the underachieving bus system.
Speaking of which: Even worse is the assumption that “upgrading east-west city transit is an achievable goal.” Wasn’t it the Ehrlich administration (2002-2006) that was going to build bus lanes from Fells Point to the Social Security Administration with synchronized lights? I thought the highly touted retread of the bus system in June 2017 was going to have synchronizing traffic lights giving a right of way to the buses. There aren’t any that I have seen. Even the central light rail line doesn’t have synchronizing lights yet. Clearly the writer of this editorial has never taken Route 40 home from downtown. Or suffered through a Kafkaesque cloud of dust following the light rail train from University of Baltimore /Mount Royal to Camden yards.
I’ve often expressed a wish, unlikely to be granted in my lifetime, that politicians be required to ride public transit. Maybe editorial page writers should share the same fate. Or at least ride public transit before writing about it.
Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore
Red Line a no-go during this administration
Renewed hope for the Red Line? Not a chance while Hogan is Governor!
Jim Dempsey, Edgewood
Red Line or no, Baltimore needs a modern streetcar.
Now that the Congress is close to passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, it is time for Baltimore City to look ahead for many new ways to improve public transportation for its residents and the residents of the counties surrounding it.
There has long been talk about the need to improve public transportation in Baltimore City moving from west to east and east to west. One obvious way to do this would be to bring back (and at much less cost than any light rail system) what we used to have along North Avenue. This is our premier east-west street. North Avenue used to have its own trolley line — the number 13 — which is the number later given to its bus line, which is now the City Link Gold bus. A modern streetcar would make a lot of sense along North Avenue, which is currently being upgraded as an east-west transportation corridor as part of the MTA’s North Avenue Rising project. North Avenue is also one of the regional transit corridors in the Regional Transit Plan for Central Maryland.
In any case, whether or not some version of the Red Line gets built in the future to go from east to west along a route well to the south of North Avenue, this is the time to plan a modern streetcar to go along all of North Avenue — modeled upon the relatively new D.C. Streetcar along H Street east of North Capitol Street. Streetcar transportation is enjoying a renaissance all around the United States and Canada, and Baltimore City should join this new trend in urban public transportation.
Art Cohen, Baltimore
The writer is the convener of b’more mobile and the website: www.bmoremobile.org