The city's much-needed east-west light rail line could be resuscitated under the right governor.
What are the chances that Baltimore will reclaim the Red Line initiated by Maryland's previous governor, Martin O'Malley, and then killed by the new Republican governor, Larry Hogan, after he assumed office in 2015? Listening to the seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination to oppose Hogan in his re-election bid this November, the Red Line sounds like it is coming back if a Democrat wins.
The city needs something. Baltimore is the only big city on the East Coast corridor from Washington to Boston without a major rail or subway system. There are a lot of plans to try to improve various bus lines, but these plans ignore the big elephant in the room, the Red Line, and whether it will be allowed to eventually come to life.
The Baltimore Sun, the city's only and last remaining daily newspaper, opines that the project has bleak chances for a future (“Red Line: Democrats are getting left at the station,” May 24). Yet without a solid alternative plan, the needs of the city remain. The city needs big infrastructure improvements such as what the rail line would bring, and economic growth around rail stops that the line would stimulate. The Red Line would be a big boost to the region.
But Baltimore is not a city that changes quickly. A current fixture of Baltimore and its port system is the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, first proposed by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia at the time of the American Revolution. Yet it was not until a good 50 years later that construction was actually started on the canal after commitments were secured from several states and the federal government. That's when men started digging the 19-mile trench by hand and teams of mules began taking away the excavations. Since then, the canal has played a vital role in the region's vitality as a coal and general cargo port.
They don't argue about this in Charm City any more.
Without a good comprehensive plan for the city, and with traffic congestion choking the region, there is still opposition to the Red Line. And there is an abiding loyalty to the automobile. However, Governor Hogan allowed the Purple Line to move forward in the Washington suburbs in Maryland where there is a stronger constituency for public transportation projects, and also the Washington Metro which so many people in the district and in Virginia and Maryland already are very dependent on, not to mention the tourists and sports fans.
Yet The Sun didn't even seem convinced by its own argument, adding that Baltimore cannot be considered to be an island. The source of its woes are white depopulation and disinvestment. Not until these attitudes are changed will the Red Line return. And it could, some day.
A lot of this depends on what will happen this November, or if not then, another four years hence, when it will be clear that had the governor let the Red Line stay its course, its benefits would be felt years sooner.