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How Baltimore Could Improve Rail After Larry Hogan’s Red Line Debacle

10:55 AM EDT on September 4, 2015

A 2007 plan called for new stations along the MARC Penn Line, shown here in relation to the cancelled Red Line. Image: GGW
A 2007 plan called for new stations along the MARC Penn Line, shown here in relation to the cancelled Red Line. Image: GGW

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan killed Baltimore’s long-awaited Red Line so he could build a highway to the beach, but sitting on the shelf is another plan to augment rail service in the city.

Writing for Greater Greater Washington, Jeff La Noue says the proposal includes three new infill stations on the MARC Penn Line commuter rail: one in Bayview, and one each in East and West Baltimore.

The Red Line would have linked Baltimore residents with job centers, and though the Penn Line is three miles north, La Noue believes it could provide “an economic jolt” for city neighborhoods.

Assembled by the Maryland Transit Administration, the 2007 MARC Growth & Investment Plan featured a number of rail projects, many of which would invest heavily in Baltimore. Adding more MARC stations to Baltimore would also amount to intracity service, removing some of the sting of losing the Red Line investment.

A 2013 draft update omits stations and improvements planned for the city. There isn't an explanation for why.

The MARC lines are regional in scope, but by adding stations in densely populated neighborhoods outside of downtown on both sides of the city, more of Baltimore's residents could access the system. Those coming into Baltimore would also have a greater slate of options that might be closer to their destinations.

As the state and city discuss transportation improvements for Baltimore, the 2007 MARC Investment Plan for Baltimore should be on the table. Adding MARC service and stations in Baltimore is not a substitute for the Red Line, but it would do a lot of good in different areas of the city.

Elsewhere on the Network: Better! Cities & Towns reports that the surgeon general will soon call on the country to invest in walkable communities, and Bike Pittsburgh has the lowdown on the Steel City’s latest bike projects.

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