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Red Line to be rerouted to accommodate station moved for Paterakis

BREW EXCLUSIVE: MTA plans to move its tunnel from President Street a block west to under Pier 5. The change may delay the rail project by up to 10 months.

realigned Red Line through Pier 5

The Red Line tunnel will be shifted from President Street (yellow lines) to Pier 5 (blue lines) under the MTA’s latest plans.

Photo by: Maryland Transit Administration

Talk about unintended consequences.

Moving the Central Avenue Red Line station a block west to satisfy developer John Paterakis’ wishes will require rerouting of the line’s tunnel on the east side of the Inner Harbor.

Henry M. Kay, director of Red Line planning, confirmed today that engineering staff are developing plans to reroute the transit tunnel – long planned under President Street – about a block west under the Fallsway, Pier 5 and the Candler Building.

The new alignment will form a sweeping “S curve” between Lombard and Market streets on the north to the Fallsway and Fleet Street on the south.

The reason for the shift: the new station planned at Exeter and Fleet streets – to replace the station Paterakis had opposed at Central and Fleet – is too cramped to maintain a straight platform alignment.

“The station platform would fall into a curve on the west end, and the platform needs to be straight,” Kay said. As a result, the Red Line will continue a block further west on Fleet Street before turning northwest.

Shift Expected to Cause Delay

Kay said the new alignment is not expected to add significantly to the cost of the proposed 14-mile line – which currently stands at $2.644 billion.

“The plan requires a bigger footprint for the new station, which could [add to costs],” Kay said, but the deep tunnel under the Fallsway and Pier 5 should not be more expensive than under President Street.

However, planning the new alignment could delay the project, which is currently scheduled to start construction in mid-2016.

“It could be a 10-month delay, but it could be lesser, because we are working on other engineering issues while planning [the new alignment],” Kay said.

He said the transit project has many factors that affect its schedule, including the cash flow coming from the Maryland Department of Transportation to keep planners and private consultants at work.

Kay described the new alignment as a “refinement” to the existing plan and said it would not change the scope of the project, which remains the most expensive public works project in Baltimore’s history.

The location of the new Exeter Street station (yellow boxes to the left) and the location of the scotched Central Avenue station. Paterakis' warehouse is on the south side of Fleet Street between Central and Eden. (MTA)

The location of the new Exeter Street station (yellow boxes to the left) and the location of the now-scotched Central Avenue station. Paterakis’ warehouse is on the south side of Fleet Street between Central and Eden. (MTA)

Kay said Maryland officials will soon be talking to the Federal Transit Administration about what kind of supplemental environmental document may be required for the new station and alignment.

Last year, the FTA accepted the project’s Final Environment Impact Study (FEIS). At that time, local officials warned that any changes to the plan could cause delays or even disapproval by federal officials.

Kay and his staff, however, decided last fall to search for alternatives to the Central Avenue station that Paterakis – the politically-wired builder of Harbor East who also owns H&S Bakery – said it would complicate his plans to convert a warehouse he owns into commercial and residential space.

Last month, the city agreed to pay $200,000 to Paterakis as part of a deal to move his warehouse operations to an industrial park on the city’s far east side.

Impact on Little Italy

For visitors and users of Pier 5, the proposed alignment would have little or no visual impact because the twin rail tunnels would be bored by underground machines some 70 feet below the surface. There would be little evidence of construction at ground level, Kay said.

However, the new station at Exeter and Fleet streets would require a deep hole in the ground from Exeter to High along Fleet Street. The area is part of historic Little Italy.

Kay said the MTA plans to use an existing parking lot on the north side of Fleet Street as the entrance to the station.

Completion of the station would take about three years. During this period, a portion of Fleet Street would be open to traffic because the hole would be dug in two phases, according to Kay.

A preliminary sketch of the entrance to the Red Line station at Exeter and Fleet streets (green box). A Whole Foods grocery store is currently located kitycorner on the station. (MTA)

An image of the space the Red Line station would occupy at Exeter and Fleet streets (green box). A Whole Foods grocery store is currently located kitty-corner to the proposed station. (MTA)

Project Funding

Under current plans, about $900 million, or 34% of the Red Line would be paid by the federal government’s new Starts program.

The rest would be covered by the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund ($1.2 billion), Baltimore County ($50 million), Baltimore City ($200 million), and a possible private partner under the state’s public-private partnership legislation ($275 million projected).

The city’s $200 million share is expected to be paid “in kind,” Kay said, with the city donating land and using sewer and road paving improvements along Edmondson Avenue and elsewhere to aid in the line’s construction.

Baltimore County has not yet disclosed how it plans to fund its $50 million share. (MORE on Red Line financing.)

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  • CB

    Only in modern day Baltimore would it take 20 friggin years between proposal and actual projected completion to build a 14 mile line. And now up to 10 extra months to appease a cantankerous old man.

    • Baltplanner

      Have you heard of the 2nd ave subway in nyc. Huge transportation projects can get drawn a whole lot more than this…. Baltimore is not that bad 😉

    • ushanellore

      He is not a cantankerous old man–he’s a shrewd old codger.

  • James Hunt

    Well, it certainly is swell of the city to “donate” land, etc. to pay its “share” of this fiasco. Pray tell, what sort of provisions is the city making for paying for the inevitable cost overruns?

    BTW, love the sketch of the Red Line station … this project is being promoted with all the finesse of a seventh grade science project. Okay, _third_ grade science project.

    • Rodman

      Maybe it’s supposed to be a glass box like the entrance to the Apple Store on 5th Ave. in NY? OR the sketch was done by a third grader. I think you’re probably right.

  • Bryce Butler

    The developers own the joint, so what else is new. The waste of money and time by this administration is criminal. Sheila Dixon gets thoroughly reamed by the federal prosecutor and resigns over a few measly bucks while this administration keeps giving away the store with no audit? Where are the feds when you need them?

  • Gerald Neily

    What this demonstrates is how the MTA only reveals information in a slow rationed trickle. Henry Kay should have told The Brew about this massive change when Reutter inquired about their moving the station away from Central Avenue. When was the MTA planning to tell us?

    And who did anyone expect to win in a confrontation between the MTA and John Paterakis? That demonstrates how the MTA has been planning the Red Line in a large vacuum for the past 13 years. John Paterakis held all the cards. This latest delay was simply the MTA’s chronic avoidance of realities until inevitability arrives.

    And as we’ve constantly been told, time is money. This latest delay will cause yet another cost escalation, just like the others that have raised the project cost by a billion or so due to inflation, engineering, mission creep, deciding the Cooks Lane tunnel really should have two tracks, etc.

    We still don’t really know what’s going on with costs. The MTA always said the city would supply free land. That had previously been kept off the Red Line budget through deals like the BohDonnell Connector project, in order to avoid further lowering the Red Line’s deteriorating federal cost-effectiveness score. If it’s now on-budget, the project cost should be up yet again.

    Aside from land, there’s nothing “in kind” about the city’s proposed contributions. They’d be taken out of the city’s desperately needed infrastructure budget. How Baltimore County confronts its Red Line tab should also be instructive. And no one has repudiated the attempted state legislation to enable the MTA to raise our property taxes. Are they saving that for the next round of new costs? Operating costs, perhaps?

    We should probably look at the way the Purple Line is handled to get cues as to what’s next. Various additional costs have been added there, such as to the “Public-Private Partnership” (translation: long term debt). The feds require “year of expenditure” costing to try to minimize the financial gymnastics.

    The real solution is to get rid of the redundant disconnected downtown tunnel, which is really just a Pandora’s box of Red Line surprises. That would allow the Red Line to be built in affordable, feasible phases so that the MTA can build it with real money instead of funny money.

  • RickinBmore

    What’s upsetting here is that the change is so blatantly a sop to Paterakis. If there was a good engineering reason for the change, so be it. But to so obviously pander to one connected developer is despicable.

  • Matt R

    Furthermore, if this route is going to change, maybe we should also change the route to be more north on the Eastside to have at-grade rail on Fleet St. instead of harbor side in Canton so it would serve more riders.

    I also wish there was information Redline’s about parking once the project is complete or traffic on the Westside during construction. Will there be a parking garage at Edmondson Village? Will it be enough parking? How will they mitigate all of the traffic on Edmondson Avenue and Franklin Street during the construction process (they talked about the maintenance of traffic on the Eastside but nothing about traffic on US Route 40 on the Westside…one of the busiest routes into the city on the Westside)?

    • Aaron Mirenzi

      great idea moving the train to fleet street. the official explanation is that the street isn’t wide enough, and its too expensive to make it all underground.

      no reason you couldn’t spend a couple million to make a functioning bus system in that corridor though

    • keifyg

      Of course there won’t be a parking garage in Edmonson village! IT’s a neighborhood WALK-UP stop, not a commuter stop like 1-70, West Baltimore MARC or Bayview MARC. As far as running on the surface of Fleet st.: #1- Fleet St. is so narrow the trains would have to SHARE a ROW with regular traffic -AND- #2- Your suggestion of taking the line down Fleet to Haven completely changes the alignment and omits the Canton and Canton Crossing stops, which makes NO sense (in my opinion, at least). This is the best rail option we’ve had since the subway was built!

      • Matt R

        It makes plenty of sense, an alignment down Fleet would put Canton Crossing would be about a mile from the tram. You don’t plan a rail system to service 1 shopping center and given that there is already a large urban shopping center at Mondawmin, complete with a Target, I don’t see why we would spend million of dollar placing the tram that close to the water’s edge (it’s a waste because it really only serves people within a mile to the north). Fleet could be made one lane, one way or if parking were eliminated on one side, there would be plenty of room for the tram (especially since this train is using a narrower gauge rail than the existing light rail. Edmondson Village parking would be convenient for folks in Catonsville, Edmonson Village, Ellicott City, 10 Hills, which by the way, most folks in that area drive and many work in Baltimore (more than 100k people live in that area ). They are going to ask themselves, why would I drive out of their way, literally half the distance between home and downtown to then find a parking place and ride the slow train to downtown? To make this thing work, it needs to be convenient, fast, clean, direct, and on time, otherwise, we are just flushing about $5000 per working, taxpaying adult (taxpayers on Baltimore City and Baltimore County) down the drain.

      • Gerald Neily

        Correct, Keif. No parking garage for Edmondson Village. Can’t be justified, even though it could serve a very large commutershed outward thru Catonsville. The Red Line would be slower than the current express buses which used to run quite frequently in peak periods but were cut back for lack of riders. And yes, the MTA claims there would be a Red Line “park and ride” at the West MARC Station which would attract 1061 riders per day (2122 trips), but this will never happen because MARC riders to DC will get there first every morning, and are a far more advantageous transit market anyway. The travel time and overall economic advantage of Red Line riders driving to that inner city station would be nil, at best.

  • Joel Richards

    The estimated costs are $188,857,142.86 per mile and construction is scheduled to start in a year and a half. I understand that it’s the role of government to provide public goods and services but it should be prudent in making large expenditures. Improvements in bus service or expansion of the light rail system would provide better returns on public expenditures.

    • Aaron Mirenzi

      bus system especially

  • GXWalsh

    In all seriousness, I’m not sure “the most expensive public works project in Baltimore’s history” is a bad thing. As time goes on and prices go up, we’ll always be hitting the most expensive public works project. Also, the subway cost about 2.2 Billion in today’s dollars (1.39B in 1995 and then based off of CPI…construction inflation index could be higher) and only goes 15 miles (according to Wikipedia). Sure it’s $400M more for a mile less but a lot has changed since the early 90’s in terms of the way we build things and the regulations that must be met. I think it seems appropriate.

  • Matt R

    I just found that Baltimore County has a planning report for running the Redline to Turner Station in Dundalk via Dundalk Avenue. How come the MTA is not talking about this? This makes a lot of sense. http://resources.baltimorecountymd.gov/Documents/Planning/masterplan/mp2020/bayviewtodundalkredlineextension.pdf

    • Gerald Neily

      Which alignment do think “makes a lot of sense”, Matt? The one that goes all the way east out to the end of Lombard Street at Kane and then down to Dundalk Ave., or the one that does a hairpin turn to double back onto Lombard back to Bayview Blvd. where the train has already been, then down to Eastern Ave. to Dundalk Ave.?

      I can see why the MTA is not talking about this. So thanks, I didn’t know it existed. I asked the Baltimore County’s Turner’s Station planner about the Red Line a couple years ago, and she was also unaware that a study was being done. (It’s an MTA report, not Baltimore County’s.)

      Ed Cohen did an exclusive right-of-way alignment from Bayview to the Travel Plaza to Dundalk to Merritt Blvd/CCBC to Sparrow’s Point that could make a whole lot more sense.

  • Alton Onhiswaybacwitavengeance

    I am sick and tired of reading people saying money would be better spent on bus improvement! Seriously? Bus improvement? Go downtown and wait for the 40 bus Let’s say, anytime after 3 p.m. (if it comes) and see if you are still willing to place your bets on improving buses! This corridor needs and will benefit from transit on rails in more ways than 2. A bus, or line of buses, cannot do what transit demand demands of it. Everyone’s belly-aches about the cost. Anyone consider the cost of doing nothing? I know people who have lost their jobs due to being late from waiting on MTA buses. Rail transit restores some of that good faith, and also does a way better job of getting people with a really need to be! This is a no brainer, unless you have no brain. Woodlawn needs rail transit! 40 West needs rail transit! Downtown needs supplemental rail transit! Harbor East needs rail trainsit! Fells Point n Canton definitely need real transit! Greektown needs rail transit! Bayview needs transit! Dundalk needs it too! Get your hands out of your tails and realize that this is a good thing for Baltimore! Stop complaining about things you can’t control and do something about the things you can.

    • CV resident

      Key always is dedicated right-of-way. Buses can offer excellent service, if run on roadway they do not have to compete for. Conversely, trains, if run on city streets where they are subject to the vagaries of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, are but expensive and slow.

      In Baltimore, the human factor, at administrative and ridership level, plays a significant role. Buses and trains that fail to show or that persistently run massively off schedule, and passenger compartments that are filthy and smelly and rude, are the fault not of the means of transport deployed, but of the people running and using them.

  • Carol C

    People worry about more crime coming to their neighborhood but it is already here.
    Can’t park anywhere, can’t get to work on time, can’t drink and drive. Need this Red line. This city is so far behind in public transportation and the buses have the most ridiculous and indirect routes I have ever seen in any city. Stopping EVERY BLOCK and sometimes twice in one block. Weaving in and out of main streets to pick up people on side streets ONE block over. Costing time and jamming up traffic. Only 40% of the buses are on time according to the Baltimore Sun.
    We need more rail lines. Direct routes in and out of the city. And we needed it done decades ago.We need the East and West side of this city connected. Just do it and do it right. I hope they can make this connect to the Metro in some way. Stupid to spend all this money and have to walk a mile through downtown to catch the Metro.

    • tucker33rdst@gmail.com

      Amen Sista!

  • Archphips

    Since the station entrance etc would have fallen on private property that big P. Owns and since he dug his heels in, there was not much one could have done. The revised station one block further west makes better spacing to the Broadway station and serves Little Italy better. So it isn’t others have to suffer so the baker isn’t encumbered. It is probably the baker’s former partner Beatty’s HarborPoint that gets a disadvantage. We shouldn’t take this modification as a reason to question to whole project again, as unfortunate as the genesis of this change is.

  • 33

    Well, Washington has at least 8 subway lines and growing. Baltimore has a train to nowhere, and can’t commit to a second line. I strongly believe that Baltimore will get some kind of transit when all stop complaining, and finally get it built. Are you not the ones on crowded buses, and standing on the corner bitching…where is the bus. Baltimore….lets get it done…how many years has the planning been……I will be a great great grandfather by the time it is built, I understand that things take time, but not along with Father Time.

    • Matt R

      It will only work when planners and politicians have the balls to not just put the train in the path of least resistance. To be a real alternative to buses or cars it will need to go to the population centers (not veering away from them like to current plan and like our current subway and light rail). I would love a good rail based transit plan but the current plan is not a responsible use of tax money that gets the biggest bang for the buck.

  • Joseph D

    I was born and raised and continue to live in Baltimore. Baltimore will never have a transit system like Washington because the towns are no where near alike. And I am okay with that. Baltimore has too many separate communities, i.e. people in Canton or Fells Point don’t have much interest in going to the west side of town – there is nothing there of interest. Maybe they had over to the Federal Hill area and a few times up north to the newly dubbed Station North, but the Red Line doesn’t service that area. Just like the subway system that goes from the Owings Mills area to downtown Baltimore only really serves the purpose of workers skipping out on traffic, the Red Line is only built around the hopes of workers from Baltimore County and further north, taking public transit into downtown. They won’t take it all the way to the West Side, because once they get there, there is no other decent public transportation system to get from the station to their work building. Baltimore is too more residential than Washington and no one wants aerial or on ground trains moving through their neighborhoods. There are none in DC. Baltimore has too many limitation for underground rail systems close to the water line and they would be smart not to build there. They should expand the subway lines to certain points, instead of just building a new rail line. It has no purpose but to connect east to west, but there is no one that needs to be connected. No one is giving up their cars. I for one will never take the red line anyway. If I want to go to canton or fells point, I will walk just like I always do.

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