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City starts process to acquire private land and easements for Red Line

No residential properties will be condemned for the transit line, but several hundred partial or temporary land easements are required

3700 block edmondson ave

The city is seeking temporary easements along Edmondson Avenue for Red Line construction, including the 3700 and 3800 blocks shown here.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

The Rawlings-Blake administration introduced legislation in the City Council tonight to begin the acquisition and easement of privately owned land for the planned Red Line.

A lengthy list of easements and partial land acquisitions are required to provide a right-of-way for the controversial light-rail system. For the most part, the Red Line will run along city streets – or in the case of downtown, Fells Point and Cooks Lane – in a tunnel.

No residential properties will be demolished for the project, which is still at least a year away from federal approval and, most critically, more than $1.5 billion in needed “New Starts” transit funding.

The Rawlings-Blake administration has been pushing the project forward despite questions about how it will be financed on the state and federal level.

Under the plan submitted tonight, eight commercial properties will be acquired or condemned. They include Bambou Baltimore, a music venue on Franklintown Road; Studio 14, a recording studio; a carry-out restaurant on Fremont Avenue; a machine shop in East Baltimore; and two warehouses.

Housing Department Will Have Final Say

In addition, more than 200 houses face subterranean easements, temporary construction easements or partial property acquisitions.

In 2012, the city agreed to take the lead in acquiring the properties, with the Maryland Transit Administration reimbursing the city for its “staff, legal and real property costs.”

In addition, the city has agreed to provide, at no cost, a franchise to the MTA for all street and other city-owned property needed for the line.

Paul Graziano, commissioner of the housing department, will have final say in determining what private land or easements will be acquired for the Red Line, the proposed legislation reads.

The city Department of Real Estate – “or any other person or agency that the Board of Estimates designates” – will negotiate and buy the land. Any property that does not reach a voluntary settlement with the city will be subject to condemnation procedures.

Route of the Red Line, which is currently planned between Woodlawn in Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins Bayview and includes 19 stations and almost five miles of tunneling. (MTA)

Proposed route of the Red Line, which is planned between Woodlawn in Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins Bayview campus, includes 19 stations and nearly five miles of tunnels. (MTA)

Starting in West Baltimore, the city plans to acquire subterranean easements along the 1000, 1100 and 1200 blocks of Cooks Lane.

The Red Line will run along Edmondson Avenue from Cooks Lane to Franklin Street at Poplar Grove. Along this 20-block stretch, the city plans to acquire some front-yard properties. In addition, many rowhouse front yards along Edmondson Avenue will be used by contractors, requiring temporary easements to be conveyed to the city.

The 2400-2700 blocks of Franklin Street in Rosemont will also be affected by construction, with several commercial properties slated for acquisition and demolition.

The MTA plans to build a storage yard and repair shop south around Franklintown and Calverton roads. The city has agreed to relocate its Public Works and General Services facilities in the area and deed the property to the MTA.

St. Bernardine Church, a landmark on the 3800 block of Edmondson Avenue, is not expected to be impacted by the Red Line's right-of-way. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

St. Bernardine Church, a landmark on the 3800 block of Edmondson Avenue, is not expected to be impacted by the Red Line’s right-of-way. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Highway to Nowhere

The Red Line will run along the “highway to nowhere” corridor between MARC’s West Baltimore Station and Fremont Avenue, then enter a tunnel near the University of Maryland Medical Complex.

A carry-out shop at 764 W. Baltimore Street and an adjoining building are set to be acquired by the city, according to tonight’s legislation.

The four-mile-long tunnel through downtown, Harbor East and Fells Point will require numerous subterranean easements along Eutaw Street, Hopkins Place, Light Street, Lombard Street, Market Place, Central Avenue, Fleet Street, Fountain Street and Boston Street before emerging to surface level on Boston Street near Montford Avenue.

Construction in Canton

East along Boston Street, temporary construction easements will be needed along Boston Street, Lighthouse Point East and O’Donnell Street, with a warehouse and machine shop set to be acquired in Canton and Highlandtown.

The city originally agreed to construct a new road – the Boston-O’Donnell Connector – prior to the start of Red Line construction. The Boston-O’Donnell connector has been delayed in order to help finance the Central Avenue bridge to Harbor Point.

There were no estimates tonight on how much the easements and acquisitions would cost.

The MTA is required to demonstrate “satisfactory continuing control” over the Red Line’s right-of-way before the $2.5-billion-plus project can receive federal approval.

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  • James Hunt

    The Brew wrote: “There were no estimates tonight on how much the easements and acquisitions would cost.”

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Mr. Reutter, given everything you and the Brew have written about city government wastefulness, it must have taken every bit of willpower you had not to write:

    ” … and even if there were estimates, citizens would have no reason to believe those estimates reflected anything resembling reality.”

    Let the boondoggle proceed!

    • Herx

      Of course, James Hunt, we should never build anything at all. It will just be another boondoggle, won’t it? Let’s just sit and fail to progress, while every other city advances. Sounds like a sensible plan, doesn’t it, James Hunt? James Caldwell

      • James Hunt

        Esteemed interlocutor Herx: in my ever-so-selfless way, I am simply trying to prepare Red Line partisans for the inevitable day when the Red Line Follies collapse into a heap of finger pointing as the budget becomes too much for even our tax-dollar-engorged political class to bear. Here’s a hankie.

        • ushanellore

          O god James I have to tell you I love you except when I am at the receiving end of your barbs. Your courtly snubs are otherworldly to say the least.

          • James Hunt

            Out of respect for you, U, and our colleagues-in-opining in prose and verse, I hereby repent my brusqueness in reply and disagreeableness in disagreeing. What just about all Brew commenters have in common and what sets them apart from the snarling brood in the Sun’s comboxes is some level of commitment to and affection for our fair city. Henceforth, I shall cast no barbs nor throw no elbows at people who are, effectively, on the same team as I am. Which, yes, will effectively render me speechless so, hey, early Valentine’s Day present for everyone!

          • ushanellore

            Aw Shucks–be yourself!

  • James McBee

    The city desperately needs more public transit. With that said, from the very beginning, the Red Line has seemed almost as ill-conceived as the existing light rail line (which seems to go out of its way to miss every populated area north of Mt Royal). The biggest mistake is tunneling under downtown. An at-grade line would increase the visibility of public transit as a viable option for Baltimoreans, and would bring the costs down to a far more reasonable level. Frankly, what the city needs to do, is to revive the old street car lines. Street cars are thought of as quaint–and thus, outdated–but before the city foolishly ripped out all the lines in favor of buses, the streetcar system provided residents with economical and highly effective mass transit, which we have never since been able to replicate. In the city’s heyday, the busiest lines had a streetcar arriving every four minutes. For the cost of the Red Line, we could be well on our way to creating a whole network. Instead, we get this one line, which fails to connect to the existing one, and which will likely be the only major addition to our piecemeal system for another two decades or so. C’est la vie.

    • Herx

      You say: “This biggest mistake is tunneling downtown.”

      Really? Obviously, you never actually ride the current light rail system, do you? Of course, it must be underground, to speed it up to normal speed. Otherwise, it is as slow as a bus. In that case, why build a rail system? Buses are cheaper.

      • Matthew Riesner

        I think the real mistake is tunneling Cooks Lane. There are other streets that are wide enough to accommodate the light rail and vehicular traffic such as Johnnycake or Ingleside Avenue, that will take the trains to Woodlawn without tunneling. I think if any road should be tunneled under on the Westside it should be Edmondson Avenue (US Rt 40) between Edmondson Village Shopping Center and Hilton Parkway. This area is very heavily congested with rush hour commuter traffic of folks coming in and leaving from the Westside. There are very few other choices of commuter routes that cross the Gwynnes Falls and Loudon Cemetery nearby and it would be wise to but the rail line underground in that area in order to preserve open traffic lanes.

      • James McBee

        Do I ride the current light rail system? Not on a regular basis, as walking from where I live in north Baltimore to the stop in Woodberry, takes almost as long as walking to midtown (from which I can catch a circulator if necessary), and it takes a whole heck of a lot longer than biking or driving. With that said, I have ridden it. I ride it every time I need to get to BWI. From what I have observed, the train has the right of way. The gates close off the traffic in advance of it’s arrival, so I don’t see how train speed is affected. If that stretch along Howard St is slow, it is because there are a lot of stops. So you can argue that keeping the Red Line at grade would snarl vehicular traffic, but it seems pretty ridiculous to say that it would impact the light rail’s performance in any meaningful way.

    • Tim Lee

      I would like to see more streetcars as well and agree that visibility through the downtown would increase ridership. In a perfect world I’d like to see Lombard and Pratt street made two way with a media featuring the light rail. Unfortunately, doing something like that would also increase opposition. This project has done a much better job at targeting stops that people really want (downtown, harbor east, fells, canton, greektown, bayview, Security sq, and 70 park and ride). The system will never be perfect. We do need to move on a build it as soon as possible. The sooner we get over this hurtle the sooner we can look at the next segments and expand. Arundel Mills needs to be connected, as does white marsh. The buses need to be rerouted as feeder routes to the rail to move people through the city core faster. The city should take on the streetcars. Perhaps replacing the circulators with permanent rail routes. but first, lets get this red line over and done with.

  • Mair

    Who will be getting paid for the ‘soon to be acquired properties’? #justwondering

  • Gerald Neily

    The primary purpose of all this is to keep as much of the Red Line’s cost “off the books” as possible to try to prop up its cost effectiveness score in attempting to attract Federal Funds. The largest costs in this regard are the city’s widening of the huge Edmondson Avenue bridge over the Gwynns Falls and the two MARC parking lots at West Baltimore and Bayview, the former of which includes demolishing the huge retaining wall and lowering two blocks of the Highway to Nowhere” to prepare the grade for the Red Line.

    The Boh Donnell Connector to Boston Street, which the Brew says “has been delayed”, is being replaced by an improvement project for nearby Haven Street, ostensibly to allow the heavy traffic (including trucks) avoiding the Boston Street railroad crossings to divert to Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown. However, it is likely that the grading that was previously provided by the Boh Donnell project to prepare for the Red Line will now be incorporated into the Haven Street project instead.

    Beyond all this, the Red Line budget also calls for an additional $250 million in “regional contributions” of which not a clue has come forth as to how that would be paid, except that the state has ruled out financing by a “Public-Private Partnership”.

    Furthermore, the total Red Line cost continues to rise. The most recent official estimate was $2.65 billion in the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board’s 2014-17 TIP capital budget, which had no construction costs programmed. The link to that document has been taken off their website, so it’s no wonder rumors are floating with costs escalating to the $2.8 to $3 billion range.

    The State CTP budget has the $2.5 billion the Brew quoted, with $900 million in “assumed” federal funds, far less than the $1.5 billion cited, which at 60% of the total is far more than anyone has officially dared to hope for. So far, zero has been the more accurate prediction.

    • Herx

      Of course the cost is rising, as it always will. It’s called inflation. Solution: quit stalling and BUILD IT NOW, before it costs even more. Next issue?

      • ushanellore

        Inflation thy name is economics.
        Impatience thy name is Herx.
        Incompetence thy name is government.
        Red Line thy name is red
        because “in the red”
        is thy condition
        before thou even comes
        into existence.

    • bmorepanic

      I think the design for the new wider edmonson avenue bridge is underway or perhaps completed. I saw it on an engineer’s resume while looking for a picture of the existing bridge.

    • ushanellore

      Sounds like Sochi 2014 without the potential women suicide bombers under house arrest, except this will be Red Line 2014 to 3014, saga incomplete, width of train cars wrong, train tracks wrong, routes wrong, line gauge wrong, distance from bottom of each car to train track wrong, budget VERY WRONG, federal funds unavailable and wrong, street by street, bridge by bridge grading wrong, construction gargantuan and wrong, demolition of existing structures wrongheaded and wrong–now that we’ve sung the wrong song, what’s right about this project, pray tell me before 3014.

  • Matthew Riesner

    I think the city should start buying the houses along Edmondson as well. The area is drug infested and dangerous. A street that is that busy, single residential unit homes should not be located that close to the street. Many of these houses are condemned and hard to sell. I think with the redline we need to increase the density of development on Edmondson Ave, building a commercial and high density residential corridor.

    • bmorepanic

      I like the idea but the problem would be lot depth.

      • Matthew Riesner

        It can be done. Most of the lots have backyards and some back up to wooded lots. If we build tall (5-6 floors), higher density can be done in that area.

        • bmorepanic

          Maybe take another look at an aerial map and you’ll see what I mean. Compare the retail/industrial lots to the size of the housing lots. The only sizable treed areas seem to be around Hilton Parkway and those are part of Gwynns Falls park or very small neighborhood parks tucked into the center of an outfacing set of houses..

          Not that everything has to be the size of a big box store, but even small office buildings need enough foot print and enough parking.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Some of the blocks behind Edmonson Avenue are also in poor condition and could be brought into the project. We can also allow for 100% lot coverage which will help utilize available land, and buildings can also be built with small internal parking garages.

          • bmorepanic

            I am not an engineer, but they still don’t look anyplace close to large enough. Then too, producing more urbanization and more traffic moving on Edmondson may not be a good idea. Perhaps doing something about the crazy traffic should come first. Its very difficult to get anything going when the main drag is a highway and (present company excluded Mr. Neily) transportation planning is still stuck in the ’70s.

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      The city doesn’t need to buy them. If we installed a comprehensive rail-based transit system (not saying that the Red Line is that), private development would take care of itself. Development follows transit.

      • Matthew Riesner

        The problem with having private development is that most of the properties on Rt 40 are owned by separate owners and physically connected to each other. To have large development, there needs to be a force that can purchase in bulk (using all means necessary) and consolidate the land to acreage. A few holdouts can doom a largescale redevelopment. How many blocks or rowhouses are on in this city with only 1 or 2 that are inhabited and how hard is it to develop (tear down and rebuild) around this problem? I am all for the private market doing it’s thing but we need to have larger buildable lots available to spur redevelopment.

    • Gerald Neily

      The most serious Edmondson Ave. deterioration has occurred during the Red Line planning. It’s the same phenomenon as Howard St. and Westport. Investors sit and wait for some grandiose “game change” that never happens. The properties then lose most of their value so that massive city intervention becomes the only possible course. The main difference here is that the major crumbling hasn’t waited for the transit line to be built as it did in Westport and to a lesser degree on Howard Street. That’s why so much of the city’s growth tends to occur where there’s the least transit – Locust Point, Canton, Hampden, out on the Harbor Point peninsula, and the most successful developers don’t hold their breath waiting for it – Paterakis, Beatty, Sapperstein. “Transit-oriented development” indeed.

  • krempel

    So…I won’t wade into the pro/anti Red Line thing.

    But why the hell does it seem like more transit-oriented cities can move these projects along as a decent pace? In Baltimore it takes 5 years to BEGIN the transit discussion, 2 years of political wrangling, 5 years of research, 5 of design, and 10 years to build.

    Holy shit, people.

    DC would have built 2 new HEAVY RAIL lines for the amount of time it takes us to even thinking about thinking about it.

    • Gerald Neily

      Krempel: It’s simple. Other cities build systems that build upon themselves. Baltimore attempts to build isolated rail lines that can’t leverage what they’ve already built, or even what could possibly be built in the future. The MTA wants to spend billions all in one gulp on a fragment that would stand apart from everything else, present and future. That’s a formula for futility.

      That’s the fast technical answer. Of course, there are complex intertwined political issues as well.

      • burgersub

        i suppose you mean there won’t be in-system transfers and it won’t share trainsets with other lines and you’ll have to walk a block or two in an underground pedestrian tunnel to transfer to the existing metro, but using the terms “isolated” or “apart” here seems really disingenuous. this line hits multiple major population, tourism and employment centers, will cross the light rail and MARC penn line, and get reasonably near the metro and MARC camden line. you are, as they say, “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.” this line is way past due, it’s time for all the obstructionism to end.

        • Matthew Riesner

          This model of different train sets, different gauge track, and not sharing stations will cost our city a lot more in the long. We already have 1 Lightrail and if use the same track and trains we will save money due to the economies of scale. When it comes to replacing equipment, integrating lines, training operators, training repair personnel, it is always cheaper to have 1 standard (why do you think Southwest Airlines flies only 1 type of plane).

          • burgersub

            there is a standard track gauge. i don’t think any of our rail lines in baltimore that still exist now or are planned for the future, are going to be using different gauges.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Redline is going to use a narrower gauge track and lower floored cars than the existing light rail.

          • burgersub

            that seems odd. are you sure? all i can find related to that based on quick googling is that the cars themselves will be narrower, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the gauge will, and from what i understand, baltimore’s light rail cars are wider than many comparable systems in the world, which a lot of people see as a detriment. anyway, why would they decide to use a gauge other than standard?

          • Matthew Riesner

            According several encounters that I have had with folks who come to my lobby at work and people sent to hype the idea of the Redline at community events and at public forums, these trains will run on a narrower gauge track that is not compatible with the trains on the Central Lightrail line. This will cripple any chances of having an intergrated system. Why not have a wider train, since we already decided years ago build a system using those trains? I would imagine that a wider train could accomodate more riders.

          • burgersub

            again, i don’t think the gauge necessarily determines the actual
            width of the cars themselves, and there is something to be said for
            having cars that are able to fit more places as this line has to fit on
            streets next to car lines and stuff. if the trains prove to be over
            capacity people-wise, another car can be attached. that said, if the
            tracks themselves are narrower, i’d be curious as to why that decision
            was made, seems short-sighted. low floors i think are a good thing, the
            current light rail’s steep staircases are annoying for people with bikes
            or strollers or bad knees, and downright kind of hazardous for people
            standing near them while the train is in motion.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Currently there are ramps for wheelchairs and disabled people. I don’t think you understand the point. If we use trains of the same basic dimensions as the current light rail we can reduce the cost by having more 1) buying power regarding train sets (you can negotiate a better contract price for 20 train sets vs. 10), we can buy maintenance parts in a larger bulk (reducing the per item cost), use and train the same maintenance staff to service both lines, be able to purchase the same train sets, which means the operators are certified to work on both lines, and in the future linkages can be made to share the same track for expansion of the line (maybe a direct Woodlawn to Penn Station or BWI line via existing track)

          • Tim Lee

            The current light rail will need to be upgraded very soon. They are currently in the process of retrofitting the light rail vehicles for their half life. It is likely that it will be replaced with the same style car being utilized for the red line. We would be fools to invest in more cars like the ones we currently have. They require ramps to meet ADA requirements and take up more space width wise on roadways. The noise is also an issue. I also don’t take my ford focus to a mechanic that knows how to repair ford focus’s. The technology is similar and I’m certain the same mechanics will manage.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Tim, that would be fine as long as we use the same vehicals and same track (to reduce the longhaul cost of maintaining and expanding the system). That is the point I am making…having 1 system, 1 standard, interchangable cars for each line, interchangable operators, interchangeable repair facilities, etc. We can have ramps, we could have cars with lower floors, we could have lower trackbeds and higher platforms but whatever we do it needs to be standard throughout the entire system.

          • Day_Star

            Matthew, you are 100% right on your points on using different technologies and rail cars and economies of scale. Another point to add is the byzantine manner in which the amalgamated transit unit (ATU) negotiates pay and work rules as it affects different technologies. On some systems (LIRR in NY) the union negotiated that an engineer who switches from one type of engine to another gets 2 days pay. On SEPTA and other systems, a mechanics pay is directly tied to the type of bus or rail car they specialize in and switching or filling in for someone on another technology triggers “time and a half”. Different technologies are the perfect leveraging tool in negotiations. Telling an ATU employee to learn to operate or fix a new vehicle requires hundreds of pages of documents and legal bills up the you know what.

          • GXWalsh

            I don’t think our style light rail is really the way anyone is going. Investing in that is like buying another 1991 Volvo 240 station wagon to replace your 1991 Volvo station wagon. It’s still expensive to maintain because less people are experts in it and parts will continue to become more and more difficult to find.

            My understanding* is that most cities are moving towards these narrower gauge rails. In fact, I’m not sure if our “light” rail would even be considered a light rail by today’s standards.

            *note: Everything I know about trains is from Thomas the Tank Engine.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Yes, you won’t replace it with another 1991 240 station wagon…but your new car will still run on the same old roads, park in the same old parking garage, pick people up and drop them off at the same old places, etc. You car will not require changes to the roadway itself. Just becase some cities are using narrower gauge rail (which was proabably the choice they went with from the beginning), doesn’t mean our’s should. Think about future expansion (direct trains to other parts of the city, express trains, etc.) by using the existing light rail track to be able to move north and south (Woodlawn to Penn Station, Bayview to BWI, Hunt Valley to Social Security). If we use a different gauge track, we will limit our potential cost effective growth.

          • Renew Baltimore

            Per my earlier message, same track as the existing Central Light Rail line.

          • Herx

            A wide car is a detriment? Since when? it is not to anyone who rides it. I see you represent non-riders.

          • burgersub

            hey pal, i’m on your side here, judging by your other comments. i was just trying to find a way to explain that the fact that they plan to use cars narrower than our current light rail (which are apparently about two-thirds of a foot wider than the siemens s70, which the wikipedia article on “light rail” cites as a typical example of light rail equipment) is not a good reason to oppose the project wholesale, which i’m sure you agree with. i know i read on some other site a discussion among transit nerds much more knowledgable than i where some of them cited this width as part of the reason that the light rail did not successfully spur a revival of Howard Street, but i cannot for the life of me find it now. anyway, you don’t need to go off half-cocked and accuse me of being a “non-rider” without figuring what my actual stance on things is first. it may be true that i rarely ride the light rail because it is useless for most of the trips i make, but i ride MTA buses and the MARC train daily.

          • James Hunt

            Man, I love the smell of internecine snark in the morning. When the Red Line partisans starting eating their own, you can pretty much cue Jim Morrison: “This is the end, my dear old friend, the end …”

          • ushanellore

            Hey Burgersub,
            Herx thinks you are a hex on his most cherished project or may be he is SRB by another name or SRB’s cousin come to take his piece of pie from the pie in the sky and he-she hates you for nixing his dream.

            Whatever it is that drives Herx–the progress of Baltimore and the ease of commuting being the two most noble aspects he claims from his most ignoble approach to his opponents, he is on a crusade and winning points won’t accrue to you by opposing him with logic.

            If you tell him that the Red Line is next only to mother and apple pie he may agree with you–unless of course he hates the word mother because it reminds him of SRB–unless of course Herx happens to be SRB–and he hates the word apple because his mother made him eat one everyday.

            In other words there is no pleasing Herx on the subject of the Red Line–unless you send Gerald Neily, James Hunt and all the rest who cast a shadow on his game to the boondocks and buy the boondoggle lock, stock and barrel.

          • Renew Baltimore

            Track guage is the same as light rail and i have this information directly from the design team. The cars will be newer cars taht are lower and easier to get in and out of. They are similar to what you would see now in Denver, Portland or Seattle. I believe they are also looking at replacing the existing line cars with these new cars.

          • Gerald Neily

            Thanks for the confirmation, Renew. It’s my understanding that to stay consistent, Denver has decided to stick to its older-style high-floor vehicles, similar to what Bmore now has, rather than go to the lower entry vehicles with interior stairs to clear the wheelwells. But Portland mixes both types along its system. The Red Line’s underground passageway to our Metro is far longer than any of those within the DC Metro’s transfer stations – two blocks long, although the block from Redwood to Baltimore Street is a fairly short one. MTA ridership projections indicate that over a fifth of all Red Line riders systemwide will have to make this transfer.

          • krempel

            If you don’t mind my asking, are you Katie’s husband?

          • Matthew Riesner

            Yes…who is this?

          • krempel

            I probably should have thought better about using names, but I graduated with her, think she’s a wonderful person, and sometimes have political discussions with her on FB.

            That’s all. I thought her husband’s name was Matt. Just asking. Probably shouldn’t have. ha

          • ushanellore

            Ah, Krempel, now that you’ve drawn poor Katie into this you owe Matthew an answer, don’t you think?

            Who are you?
            A friend of a friend,
            of a friend–
            a remote someone who only met Katie once
            and found out the name of her husband
            from a tablet clicked on Google while
            on a MARK train to DC,
            you said to yourself,
            “If I explore the history of this woman
            who knows the nuggets I might find?”

            Or are you are the man–woman
            in a cubicle adjacent,
            on your computer chomping on your lunch
            while pretending to work and finding pretexts
            to disturb Katie whose determination
            to get ahead is legend?

            Or you are you her childhood playmate
            from Topeka, Kansas?
            When life got boring
            you invited her to romp around with you
            and when she did–
            not knowing your real intentions–
            you pulled her pigtails hard,
            smeared her face with flour and mud,
            stuck play doh in her hair,
            wrote with crayons on her face
            until her mother armed her
            with pepper spray and mace
            to teach you your days were numbered
            if you didn’t back off–you bullied
            but never played, now you remember
            her fondly and you want to recall
            your heady ways with women,
            beg her forgiveness,
            be in her FACEOOK page
            to write a confession?

            We don’t mind your asking Krempel
            but who are you?

            Only kidding–only kidding.

          • krempel

            you’re the best.

          • Renew Baltimore

            The guage of track is exactly the same as that of the current light rail line. Those lines will intersect and there are connection opportunities there. There will be a pedestrian tunnel that connects the underground RL station around Lombard and St. Paul to the underground metro stop one block to the north. Now that doesn’t sound elegant but there are plenty of metro stations in DC that are similar or bigger in size.

    • ushanellore

      And then give every phase of the building to the highest bidder or to a friend or a friend of a friend-nepotism here I come!

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      As the message threads everywhere on the Brew demonstrate, the only thing Baltimoreans hate more than the status quo is change. There is no proposal, however beneficial, salutary, enriching, intelligent, or helpful, that cannot cause the creation of a Coalition Of Concerned Citizens to oppose, drag through the courts, kvetch about ad nauseum, and eventually kill.
      I say (type) this without expressing any opinion about the merits of the Red Line specifically. Whether it’s State Center redevelopment, the discovery of an historic Read’s drug store, the building of badly needed rail-based transit lines . . . EVERYTHING in Baltimore is opposed and ground into a fine, useless powder.

      • James McBee

        I think a lot of people are in favor of rail-based transit, and for that very reason are opposed to the Red Line. I am a huge advocate for public transit, but a poorly designed line can be worse than no line at all. Look at our existing light rail. The ridership is abominably low, because it doesn’t get close to where people actually live. No doubt it was cheaper to route it through the Jones Falls river valley, but as a consequence, it doesn’t provide efficient service to the overwhelming majority of people who live in North Baltimore. It should have roughly tracked with the Charles Street corridor. No doubt it would have been more expensive in the short term, but then perhaps ridership would be at a level that would support the system. I don’t think it’s NIMBYism to suggest that the city should have solicited more input before finalizing the plans for this new line.

        • petefrombaltimore

          Mr James McBee
          If you have ever taken Light Rail to the final Southern stop at Glen Burnie /Cromwell Station, you may have noticed that the B&A Bike Trail starts right across the street. That bike trail was built over what used to be the B&A Railway tracks

          So basicly Baltimore pretty much used the rest of that [now defunct ] railway for its lightrail. Probably to save money.and probably because they already had a right of way .and dint need to buy much more land

          thats why it misses neighborhoods.Because it was a freight line that served wharehouses and factories that no longer exist. So the current Light Rail basicly runs on what used to be the “Alley” of the city

          I defintly agree with you that it was an awful choice. Philadelphia does a much better job with their street cars.Which run along major streets.And stop in front of people’s houses

          But the fact is that the current Light Rail Line’s path wasnt created recently. It was just an existing rail line that Baltimore decided to use in order to save money

      • River Mud

        a fair point.

  • ushanellore

    Eminent Domain eminently
    an interloper sticks its long proboscis
    into land and seizes men
    complacent in their square sandboxes,
    tucks into their breast pockets
    dollars and cents not equal
    to the value of what they imagine
    they own, claiming a need
    for easement left and right,
    not allowing them a fight,
    it will declaim by decree–
    for the common good
    it will take what is yours
    or his or hers or theirs
    to grow roads or train tracks
    or subway stations it will find
    the grassy patches that you mowed
    for years or the trees that shaded
    your head as you drank your soda
    in the summer sun or the vines
    you failed to trim spilling
    their honeysuckle fragrance on the road–
    it will state a solid reason
    to cut, slash and burn them–

    For the peripatetic population
    to get to sundry destinations
    Eminent Domain is friend,
    but for those vested in the
    history of their homes,
    every spot a memory–
    and a shrine to the freedom to own
    a small acreage–
    when the despot comes knocking
    on the door– Eminent Domain
    is enemy number one.

    Usha Nellore

  • Gerald Neily

    To recap: Red Line fatal flaw is the unaffordable downtown tunnel that doesn’t connect to anything, forces everything else to be built ultra-cheap, requires far more ridership than it can deliver to justify the cost and thus cannibalizes the rest of the bus/rail system service. Yes, wider is far better but the RL is force-fit into the impossibly narrow Edmondson corridor. I think the gauge is standard but I won’t put any weirdness beyond the MTA. The MTA has given up on the 2002 system plan so it’s back to square one if the RL is built.

    Red Line would be 2 car trains forever. DC Metro now realizes even 10 car train platforms aren’t enough. Bmore needs to build its system around its far superior 6 car Metro system. Sure, it doesn’t go to the narrow waterfront veneer where the yuppies want to go. Too bad. We need transit planning for the entire city instead.

    • Renew Baltimore

      Track guage – per the design team – is the exact same as the existing light rail line.

  • asteroid_B612

    Perhaps this is really off point, but wouldn’t it be great if we had a world class bus system? The current system we have here is awful — it is slow, expensive, unreliable, the routes were designed 80 years ago and have barely been updated since, etc. There is so little vision in the MTA that the place must be filled with seeing eye dogs.

    If you asked Governor O’Malley what are the five most significant improvements to bus transit his administration has made during the last 7 years, I wonder what he would say?

    I sometimes think that a lot of lobbying for rail transit is done by middle class white folks who shun the buses because they don’t want to have to rub shoulders with working class minorities. Wouldn’t these billions be better spent on improving the transit experience of the 90% of the transit riders who will never set foot on the Red Line?

    • petefrombaltimore

      asteroid b612
      Politicians like ribbon cutting ceremonies. And improving bus lines doesnt provide good photo opportunities for politicans

  • Gerald Neily

    $2,65 billion for a BABY STEP, Pirate? That’s an expensive baby. But it’s really more like a lemming step, because it prevents a better baby from ever being born. My cheap easy three-baby step Red Line plan shown in the “2013 Best of Brew” shows how to achieve the necessary damage control: (1) Run the west line directly into the Lex Market Metro station, (2) Extend the Metro eastward from Hopkins Hospital, and (3) Build a streetcar system which integrates with the west Red Line tracks. http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2014/01/04/best-of-2013-challenge-to-the-red-line/

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      It only “prevents a better baby from being born” if you operate from the assumption that there is any chance of anything else ever being done. The need for a decent rail-based transit system has been apparently in Baltimore since 1975 or so. I’m not holding my breath.

    • River Mud

      Correct. But those things aren’t going to happen.

  • KnowNothingParty

    How dumb

  • nataliebohemian

    Why waste money on something that probably won’t pay for itself? Improving bus routes AND running buses more frequently is going to be the best way to improve satisfaction with the city’s public transit system…not some ridiculous rail line that no one is going to use.

    The reason that I, personally, avoid the buses is because they are ALWAYS overcrowded. There is never anywhere to sit. I have seen elderly people with canes forced to stand up and hold on. Granted, this is partially due to ignorant kids who won’t give up their seats… but even so, it’s common sense to strive to make sure all riders have a seat if they need or want one.

    I’m also going to make the point that, aside from mediocre bus service, I haven’t seen any other transit options for those living in the Remington/Charles Village/Waverly area – the Circulator doesn’t even go any farther north than Penn Station. I guess they figure everyone up here has a car or something. It would take me two hours to get to work riding the bus and that’s simply pathetic. The whole point of public transit is cost-effective convenience. The Red Line is a big, useless, “f you” to those who actually live here.

    • Renew Baltimore

      Light rail, subways, bus lines and yes the roads we drive on – including highways – do not pay for themselves. They are all susbidized by tax dollars. The Circulator is being extended to Charles Village.

  • Stan47

    I have yet to hear any of the planners of this Red Line factor in the unpredictable costs of damage to water, sewer and gas lines during construction and after the system starts operating. By all appearances, there will be no predicting the eventual cost of this boondoggle. One need only look at the number of burst water mains that occur regularly in the city to see the potential for trouble.

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  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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