Thursday, September 03, 2009

Baltimore advocates create color clash for LRT alternatives

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Civic group Central Maryland Transportation Alliance is lobbying Baltimore-area public officials and private-sector leaders to reorder priorities for expanding light rail transit.

The alliance, in a report released Wednesday, promoted mixed-use, transit-oriented development along Baltimore’s proposed east-west Red Line LRT, which enjoys substantial support and is furthest along in terms of development. But it also took time to urge making the proposed north-south “Yellow Line” the next project to be implemented, even though the route to some degree parallels (or shares right-of-way with) Baltimore’s current LRT route.

The alliance wants the Yellow Line to precede the proposed “Green Line” east from Johns Hopkins Hospital toward Morgan State University and White Marsh. Says Alliance president Otis Rolley III, "We think the Yellow Line really connects residential centers with job centers," he said.

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of Baltimore’s Department of Transportation, said that for now city remains committed to the Green Line as the next large transit priority after the Red Line. But he noted officials haven’t reviewed the group's report and that he's willing to consider its recommendations.

Jack Cahalan, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said a feasibility study of the Green Line extension is included in the state's six-year comprehensive spending program. The Yellow Line has received no comparable treatment, he said.