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Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that the Baltimore Red Line received an important federal environmental sign-off, a step that makes the first major expansion of the Baltimore region’s transit network since the early 1990’s eligible for future federal approvals and funding.
The Record of Decision, issued by the Federal Transit Administration, marks the end of a rigorous and extensive process to identify and then avoid, minimize or mitigate possible impacts to communities, historic buildings and natural resources such as parks, wetlands and trees. The Record of Decision is based on information presented in a Final Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in December, 2012.
“This is a big day for the Red Line and the future of transit in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “Now we must move to our next challenge which is providing the state funds necessary to keep this project moving. Without an increase in transportation funding, work on the Red Line will come to a halt later this year as the state dollars simply aren’t there to continue. We can avoid this by passing the transportation package I introduced this week along with Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch. Under our proposal we can continue to move these projects forward, demonstrate our commitment to the project and remain in a position to compete for federal construction funds. The bill also requires the study of regional transportation authorities that, along with public private partnerships, could be part of a final funding plan for construction of the project.”
Yesterday, Governor O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch proposed legislation (HB 1515) to increase transportation investment. The initiative would raise $3.4 billion over five years support up to 44,000 jobs.
The 14.1 mile light rail line will have 19 stations between Woodlawn, Downtown Baltimore, and Johns Hopkins Bayview. Riders will be able to connect to existing Metro Subway, Light Rail and MARC Train lines. Expected ridership by 2035 is more than 50,000 passengers per day, and construction of the Red Line is estimated to create 9,800 direct construction and related jobs during the six-year construction period.
“The Record of Decision is the product of many years of work by citizens, community organizations, and local and State agencies,” said Ralign G. Wells, Administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration. “Public and agency feedback helped us identify concrete steps we can take to make the Red Line a good neighbor while improving mobility. Receiving the Record of Decision means we understand the project’s impacts and have a plan to manage them.”