MARYLAND governor, Mr Wes Moore, has announced the relaunch of Baltimore’s Red Line, a major public transport investment project that is expected to significantly enhance east-west connectivity across the Baltimore region.

Launched two decades ago, the latest plan was for a 22.7km light rail line running from Woodlawn in Baltimore County to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with 20 stations, five of them underground. Maryland Transit Administration completed a final environmental impact statement in December 2012 and the US Federal Transit Administration approved the project in March 2013.

“Before it was cancelled in 2015, the initial Red Line plan was shaped by more than 10 years of study, engineering, environmental analysis, and substantial community participation,” says Maryland Department of Transportation secretary, Mr Paul J Wiedefeld.

Insights from technical work and community engagement conducted for the original project, together with the Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan East-West Corridor Feasibility Study completed in 2022, will provide the basis for relaunching the Red Line.

In the coming months, the Maryland Transit Administration will lead the next development phase, building on community participation to update and modernise the Red Line project to meet the region’s current needs and aspirations. Key considerations include:

  • mode, with both light rail and bus rapid transit options evaluated
  • tunnelling, with options explored to reduce or eliminate tunnelling in the centre of Baltimore by using on-street alignments. Cost, benefits and disadvantages will be assessed
  • a review of the Highlandtown/Bayview alignment, due to recent development in the Highlandtown area, and
  • an assessment of environmental changes to reflect any conditions that have altered since 2013 and integration with other projects.

The Maryland Transit Administration will request entry into the federal Capital Investment Grants programme in 2024, which requires US Federal Transit Administration supervision and would make significant federal financial assistance available to advance the project to full implementation.

The Maryland Transit Administration will also launch the Eastern Baltimore County Access Study to evaluate alignments for further expansion east into Baltimore County. This future phase of the Red Line will seek to connect the currently planned  alignment to centres of employment in eastern Baltimore County.

The first public engagement period is expected to begin in mid-July and continue through m​id-August.

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