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‘Highway to Nowhere’ deserves more than a park | READER COMMENTARY

Many Black families were displaced in the 1970s so that a sunken, 1.3-mile section of U.S. 40, often called the "Highway to Nowhere" could be built through the middle of West Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun).
Many Black families were displaced in the 1970s so that a sunken, 1.3-mile section of U.S. 40, often called the "Highway to Nowhere" could be built through the middle of West Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun). (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

As cheered as I am that there is enthusiasm locally and nationally for obliterating the 18-block “Highway To Nowhere,” I think proposed plans for a park exclusively taking its place is a wasted opportunity (”Highway to Somewhere? No easy fixes for abandoned Baltimore roadway,” May 21).

I would like to see it converted into a light rail line or another public transit conduit. Whenever any new public transit is proposed the standard response from the car crowd is twofold. First that it will bring “crime” (meaning individuals who are Black) into places like Ruxton or Linthicum or Hunt Valley. Well, West Baltimore is full of Black folks already, so there is no way that the specter of Jim Crow should undermine public transit in their own neighborhood.

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Second, the automobile-above-all-else cult complains that the light rail impairs their flow of traffic. That’s why the current system operates in deference to traffic and stops at traffic signals in the city. Baltimore is the only place in the world where light rail does not have the right of way over the traffic, which is a perfect metaphor for transit priorities. But no such problem presents itself with the Highway to Nowhere, since there is not a traffic light for those 18 blocks.

I have been haunted for many years by my father telling me of his nurse from West Baltimore during his heart surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She had to get up at 4:30 a.m. and ride three buses to get to GBMC at his bedside by 8 a.m. That was 2008. It’s high time somebody built some public transit for her and other West Baltimoreans that would give them access to well-paying jobs without the nearly impossible commute.

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Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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