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Red Line (Baltimore)

The Red Line was a planned east–west mass transit light rail line for Baltimore, Maryland. Although it had been granted federal approval to enter the preliminary engineering phase, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared on June 25, 2015 that he would not provide state funds for the project.[2] The line's construction had been estimated to begin in late 2015–early 2016, subject to funding, with a completion date set for late 2021–early 2022.

Red Line
Baltimore Red Line Logo - Red.JPG
TypeLight rail
SystemMaryland Transit Administration
StatusCanceled by Gov. Larry Hogan in June 2015[1]
LocaleBaltimore, Maryland
TerminiCenter for Medicare/Medicaid Services, Woodlawn, Baltimore County (West)
Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, Baltimore City (East)
Stations19 (planned)
Daily ridership54,000 (2030 projection)
Planned openingafter 2022
Operator(s)Maryland Transit Administration
Line length14.1 mi (22.7 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC overhead
Operating speedAverage 18 mph
Route map

Locally preferred alternative
Center for Medicare/
Medicaid Services
Security Square Mall
Woodlawn Drive
Social Security Administration
I-70 Park and Ride
Cooks Lane tunnel
Edmondson Village
Allendale Street
West Baltimore
MARC train.svg
Harlem Park
Baltimore Arena
Baltimore Light Rail
Charles Center
Metro Subway
Inner Harbor
Harbor East
Fells Point
Canton Crossing
MARC train.svg
Bayview Campus

The Red Line cancellation was briefly investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation for being in possible violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[3], but the investigation was closed with no finding.[4] While the project currently remains inactive since Hogan's decision to cancel it, the future of the project was a platform issue for the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial election, with Democratic candidates having campaigned to revive the Red Line.[5]


In 2001, then-Secretary of Transportation John Porcari appointed a 23-member independent commission, the Baltimore Region Rail System Plan Advisory Committee, to make suggestions for new rail lines and expansions of existing lines. The proposals used a unified branding scheme for the existing lines and the proposed new lines, identifying each line by a color, as the Washington Metro and many other transit agencies do.[6]

The suggested system was composed of six color-coded lines with an overall length of 109 miles (175 km) and 122 stations, including Baltimore's existing Metro Subway and Light Rail lines. In the commission's report, the Red Line was an east–west line that would begin at the Social Security Administration offices in Woodlawn in Baltimore County, travel through West Baltimore with an intermodal stop at the West Baltimore MARC station, pass through downtown where it would intersect the existing Metro Subway and Light Rail lines, and pass through East Baltimore with stops in the gentrified neighborhoods of Fells Point, Canton, and the area around Patterson Park. The Red Line was designated by the commission as the starting component for new work on the 6-line system.[7]

Out of the commission's various proposals, the Red Line was taken up with the most enthusiasm by area officials. Progress was slowed by a debate between state Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan on one side, and the Baltimore City government and Congressional delegation on the other over the mode: Flanagan favored a bus rapid transit (BRT) solution with separate right-of-way components like Boston's Silver Line, while the other officials favored a light rail rapid transit line or heavy rail and insisted that both modes of rail transit be included in studies.[8]

Heavy rail was dismissed by Flanagan as an alternative, due to an estimated cost of $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion. With ridership of only 45,000 on Baltimore's existing Metro system at the time of his appointment, he did not expect the Red Line to reach the 140,000 to 150,000 ridership level necessary to attract federal funding for a new heavy rail line.[8]

Red Line alternativesEdit

Baltimore Rail Plan featuring the east–west Red Line.
The Red Line would connect to the Light Rail at University Center.
The Red Line would connect to the Metro Subway at Charles Center.
No. Alternative Length
Cost (millions)
(2007 prices)
Travel time
end to end
1 No Build 13.9 n/a 80 n/a
2 TSM 14.3 $281 76 17,600
3A BRT, surface only 13.8 $545 62 31,400
3B BRT, downtown tunnel 14.9 $1,019 56 37,400
3C BRT, downtown tunnel,

Cooks Lane tunnel

14.7 $1,151 53 37,400
3D BRT, maximum tunnel 13.7 $2,404 43 41,500
3E BRT, surface only,

Johnnycake Rd. alignment

14.8 $571 69 29,300
3F BRT, TSM surface,

downtown tunnel

14.8 $755 65 34,300
4A LRT, surface only 13.9 $930 55 34,600
4B LRT, downtown tunnel 14.6 $1,498 43 41,100
4C LRT, downtown tunnel,

Cooks Lane tunnel

14.6 $1,631 41 42,100
4D LRT, maximum tunnel 13.7 $2,463 36 42,300

Modified alternative 4C selected by governorEdit

Governor O'Malley oversaw much of the Red Line's planning and engineering.
Governor Hogan canceled the project in 2015, diverting funding away from Baltimore to rural Maryland.

In August 2009, then-Governor Martin O'Malley selected a modified version of the Light Rail Alternative 4C, which became known as the "Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA)." The modification eliminated two stations and a small parking lot from the original Alternative 4C plans, but included an expansion of parking at the West Baltimore MARC station.

Two features of the original Alternative 4C plan, considered important by the Citizens Advisory Council, remained part of the Locally Preferred Alternative:

  • Much of the proposed route through West Baltimore ran generally along U.S. Route 40, including the depressed freeway section left over from the cancellation of Interstates 70 and 170 within the city limits. This freeway section was built to accommodate a transit line in the median, and the Red Line would most likely have used this route to achieve grade separation though the area. The western end of former I-170 was demolished in 2010 to allow for additional parking and median access for the Red Line. A similar modification was also planned for the eastern end of former I-70, where the MD 122/Security Boulevard interchange would be converted to an at-grade intersection, and a new Park & Ride lot would have been built to replace the one that sits east of said interchange. At the rebuilt intersection, the Red Line would have gone through the western portal of the Cooks Lane tunnel, MD 122 would have tied directly into Forest Park Avenue, and Cooks Boulevard would have been a westward extension of Cooks Lane, built as a surface road on the old I-70 alignment. Although the modifications have not yet occurred, I-70 from MD 122 to I-695 was decommissioned in 2014 and now ends at its stack interchange with I-695.
  • The LPA provided for the line to go underground along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and to surface on Boston Street near the Can Company in Canton, bypassing downtown Baltimore's narrow streets and crowded traffic conditions. Another tunnel bypasses Cooks Lane, but the original LPA version reduced the tunnel to a single track alignment. Adjustments to the LPA were later made to allow a second track in the Cooks Lane tunnel.

With the Federal Transit Administration's approval in June 2011 to start preliminary engineering, the project made its first step beyond the concept stage; however, the FTA estimated daily ridership for the completed system at 57,000 and expected it to cost a total of $2.2 billion with inflation included. Henry Kay, MTA's deputy administrator, estimated the cost of preliminary engineering at $65 million. The state would have had to pay preliminary engineering costs, but Kay said that these and other upfront costs would be eligible for federal reimbursement.[10]

Cancelled fundingEdit

Governor Larry Hogan, who was elected in 2014, announced on June 25, 2015 that he had cancelled funding for the Red Line. During his 2014 campaign, Hogan had complained about the cost of the proposed Red Line for Baltimore and a proposed Purple Line for the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC; however, he said that the Purple Line would continue at a reduced level of funding.[2]

Federal investigationEdit

On December 21, 2015, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), together with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE) filed a complaint pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the U.S. Department of Transportation Departmental Office of Civil Rights.[11] The complaint challenged Governor Hogan's decision to cancel the Red Line on the basis of discrimination against Baltimore's predominately African American population that would have benefited from the infrastructure project.[12] Furthermore, the complaint highlighted that Governor Hogan's decision shifted funding away from car-dependent citizens, and instead was dedicated towards highway projects in rural areas of the state that are primarily Caucasian.[13]

On January 19, 2017, the last day of the Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation announced it expanded its investigation into Governor Hogan's decision to cancel the Red Line, as well as the rest of MDOT's programs to determine whether federal law was violated.[14][15] In addition, the DOT stated that the state transportation agency did not take the federal law into account or the adverse impact it would have on African-Americans, nor did the Governor seek any input from MDOT in making the decision.[16][17] In July 2017, under the administration of Donald Trump, the DOT announced that it was closing its investigation with no finding.[4]

Proposed route and stationsEdit

The alignment for the Red Line would have followed an east–west path. Starting from the west, the proposed stations were as follows:

Station Name Parking Connection Station Location Points of Interest
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services no   79, 78, CityLink Blue, 31 Security Blvd / CMS Entrance Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, General Services Administration
Security Square Mall     79, CityLink Blue, 31, 37, 107 Security Blvd / Belmont Av Security Square Mall, Security Station Shopping Center
Social Security Administration   (A)   79, 31, CityLink Blue Woodlawn Dr / Parallel Dr Social Security Administration, Southwest Academy, Woodlawn
I-70 Park and Ride     79, CityLink Blue Parallel Dr / Ingleside Av East Social Security Administration, Gwynns Falls Trail
Tunnel portal at city/county line under Cooks Lane and resurface along Edmondson Avenue
Edmondson Village     78, 77, 38, CityLink Blue, 150 Edmondson Av / Swann Av Edmondson Village Shopping Center, Enoch Pratt Free Library Edmondson Branch, Uplands, Westside Skills Center
Allendale no   77, 38, CityLink Blue Edmondson Av / Allendale St Gwynns Falls Leakin Park, Lyndhurst Park
Rosemont no   78, 29, 77, 38, CityLink Blue, 80 W. Franklin St/Poplar Grove St Franklintown Road Business Area, Rosemont Park, Western Cemetery
West Baltimore MARC     77, CityLink Blue/Orange/Green/Pink/, 80, 150
  MARC Penn Line,
W. Mulberry St / N. Smallwood St Bentalou Recreation Center, Bon Secours Hospital
Harlem Park no   CityLink Navy U.S. Route 40 / Carey St Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, Franklin Square, Harlem Square Park, Lafayette Square
Poppleton   (R)   80 N. Fremont Av / W. Baltimore St. Baltimore Center Medical Examiner Office, Perkins Square, Lexington Terrace, Little Lithuania Park, Lithuanian Hall, University of Maryland BioPark
Tunnel portal along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Howard Street/University Center   (P)   CityLink Navy, CityLink Purple, 65, CityLink Red, CityLink Yellow, CityLink Blue/Orange, 76, 120, 160, 310?, 320?, 410?, 411?, 420?

  Light Rail

W. Lombard St / S. Howard St Bromo Arts District, Camden Yards, Royal Farms Arena, University of Maryland, Westside
Inner Harbor   (P)   65, CityLink Red, CityLink Navy, 51, 54, 91
  Metro Subway

CCC: Orange, Purple

W. Lombard St / S. Charles St Downtown Baltimore, Financial District, Harborplace, Market Place, McKeldin Square, National Aquarium, Power Plant Live!, Pratt Street Power Plant, World Trade Center
Harbor East   (P)   31

CCC: Orange, Green

Fleet St / S. Central Av Harbor East Shopping District, Harbor Point, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Little Italy Pier Six Pavilion, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Fells Point no   CityLink Gold, CityLink Navy Fleet St / S. Broadway Broadway Market, Fells Point, Maritime Park, Thames Street Park, Upper Fell's Point
Tunnel portal along Boston Street
Canton     CityLink Navy, 65 Boston St / O'Donnell St The Can Company, O'Donnell Square, Patterson Park, Saint Casmir's Park
Canton Crossing     CityLink Navy, 65 Boston St / Conkling St Brewers Hill, Canton Crossing Shopping Center, Clarence H. "Du" Burns Arena, Canton Waterfront Park, Charm City Skate Park
Highlandtown/Greektown no   CityLink Navy, 22 Eastern Av / Janney St Enoch Pratt Free Library Southeast Anchor Branch, Greektown, Highlandtown, Kresson, Markets at Highlandtown
Viaduct between Highlandtown station and Bayview MARC station
Bayview   (F)   22, CityLink Orange/Blue Alpha Commons Dr / Bayview Blvd Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center, National Institute on Aging
East Baltimore/Bayview MARC     22, CityLink Orange

  MARC Penn Line

E. Lombard St (east of Bioscience Dr) East Baltimore/Bayview station, Pulaski Industrial Area, Joseph E. Lee Park, Patterson High School
Future extension to Dundalk[7]
Eastern Avenue no   CityLink Orange/Blue Eastern Av / Dundalk Av Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
O'Donnell Street no   65, CityLink Navy Dundalk Av / O'Donnell St Amazon Warehouse, Mt. Carmel Cemetery
Dundalk Center Place   (R)   CityLink Navy, 65 Dundalk Av / Center Pl CCBC Dundalk, Downtown Dundalk, St. Helena Park

The Red Line would have occupied the central median of the infamous "Highway to Nowhere" (US 40).
The Inner Harbor station would connect to Charles Center (lower right) via an underground transfer.
  • A authorized employee parking only
  • F facility parking ony
  • P paid parking
  • R residential parking only

Red Line system featuresEdit

Feature Proposed alignment
Overall length 14.5 mi (23.3 km)
Surface length 9.8 mi (15.8 km)
Tunnel length 3.9 mi (6.3 km)
Aerial length 0.8 mi (1.3 km)
Stations 20 total (15 surface, 5 underground)
Parking 6 stations with parking areas
Travel time 44 minutes (Woodlawn to Bayview)
Vehicles 34 light rail vehicles
Service frequency 8 minutes peak, 10 minutes off peak

Citizens' Advisory CouncilEdit

Establishment of CouncilEdit

The "Citizens' Advisory Council for the Baltimore Corridor Transit Study - Red Line" was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2006.[18][19]

Governor Robert Erlich vetoed the bills which originally created the Citizens' Advisory Council on May 26, 2006, and replaced it with the "Red Line Community Advisory Council." This 15-member Council was appointed entirely by the Governor.[20][21]

At a special session in June 2006, the Legislature overrode the Governor's veto.[18][19] The Council established by the Legislature also had 15 members, but only two could be appointed by the Governor. Five of the other Council members were appointed by the Senate President, five by the Speaker of the House, two by the Baltimore City Mayor and one by the Baltimore County Executive. Two co-chairs for the Council could be chosen by the Governor or the Maryland Transit Administrator from up to four nominees selected by the Senate President and Speaker of the House.

On July 30, 2007, an executive order by Governor Martin O'Malley restored the name originally selected by the Legislature.

First annual report to General AssemblyEdit

On September 9, 2008, the Red Line Citizens' Advisory Council voted unanimously to adopt its first report to the General Assembly, which included the statement that "Preparation of a SDEIS [Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement] should begin now, as a collaborative effort between the MTA and the public in finding the best ways to invest over a billion dollars in Baltimore's transportation infrastructure in keeping with the vision of the 2002 Plan."

Council dispute over Alternative 4CEdit

A recommendation for Alternative 4C (light rail with a downtown tunnel and a Cooks Lane tunnel) was approved by a vote of five to two at the Citizens' Advisory Council meeting on December 11, 2008. Two of the nine members present abstained.

Red Line Community CompactEdit

This document, signed by city and state officials, and 72 leaders of community organizations on September 12, 2008, described how they intended to build and operate the Red Line for the benefit of Baltimore and its communities. The Community Compact emphasized four main points:

  • Put Baltimore to work on the Red Line: encourage and promote local and minority contract participation.
  • Make the Red Line green: include green space and environmental improvements into the project.
  • Community-centered station design, development and stewardship
  • Reduce impact of construction on communities

Mayor Sheila Dixon appointed leaders from city government, non-profit and citizen groups, and the business community to a 40-member steering committee to implement each part of the Community Compact. The Red Line Community Compact Steering Committee held their first meeting on February 19, 2009; the group was scheduled to meet quarterly throughout the life of the project.

The decision at the meeting on December 11, 2008 was disputed at another Advisory Council meeting on July 9, 2009, where 11 members were present. A six to five vote favored rescinding the previous decision for Alternative 4C. Council Chair Angela Bethea-Spearman ruled that the motion to rescind failed, because the vote was less than a 2/3 majority. She cited "Robert's Rules" as the criteria for requiring a 2/3 majority and denying the rescision.

Community opposition to Alternative 4CEdit

Beginning in late 2008, Baltimore City favored the "4C Alternative" selected by Governor O'Malley in 2009, which was endorsed by Mayor Sheila Dixon; however, the 2008 Citizens Advisory Council annual report commented on the opposition of community groups to surface rail alignments through residential neighborhoods.

A letter from the Allendale Community Association, read at a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council on December 11, 2008, expressed the Association's opposition to Alternative 4C and any surface rail construction along Edmondson Avenue.

The West–East Coalition (WEC) Against Red Line Alternative 4C, established in June 2009, represented community associations, homeowners groups, businesses, and religious groups opposed to the Alternative 4C. Its now-defunct website explained that the organization considered the proposed light rail alignment to be a detriment to communities on both the East and West sides of Baltimore.

In a letter to Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Benjamin Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, and Mayor Sheila Dixon on July 13, 2009, the WEC described concerns about the effects of double-tracked surface rail, traffic congestion, and safety concerns.

In 2009, the WEC circulated a petition against the surface Red Line in the Canton neighborhood. It delivered 1,350 signed cards to Governor O'Malley on July 31, 2009.

Support for Red Line and Political Action CommitteeEdit

In the summer of 2011 the Red Line Now Political Action Committee (PAC) was established to voice the support of residents of Baltimore City for the funding and construction of Alternative 4C. Its website stated that the organization was staffed on a volunteer basis and planned to support local politicians that supported the construction of the Red Line.[22] Red Line Now PAC was governed by a nine-member board of directors who were citizen volunteers who lived and/or worked along what would have been the Red Line corridor. The board members represented the Midtown, Edmondson, Canton, Fells Point, Patterson Park, and Greektown communities.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Michael Dresser (2015-06-25). "Hogan says no to Red Line, yes to Purple". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-06-25.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Federal officials close civil rights complaint about Baltimore light-rail project". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  5. ^ Katherine Shaver. "New bus system revives anger, frustration over lost light-rail in Baltimore". Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  6. ^ Maryland Transit Administration. "Baltimore Region Rail System Plan Final Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-09-22.
  7. ^ a b Baltimore Red Line Mayor's Red Line information site. Retrieved 2010-1-8
  8. ^ a b Dori Berman (January 13, 2006). "New subway back in play?" (PDF). Daily Record. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  9. ^ "Transportation Systems Management (TSM)" uses the existing bus system, with modifications to signalling, lane assignments, and controls.
  10. ^ Michael Dresser (June 28, 2011). "Red Line gets a qualified go-ahead". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b Senate Bill 873 (2006) Maryland Department of Legislative Services, Library & Information Service. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  19. ^ a b House Bill 1309 (2006) Maryland Department of Legislative Services, Library & Information Service. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  20. ^ Governor's veto letter, May 26, 2006 retrieved 2010-1-29
  21. ^ Executive Orders 2006 Department of Legislative Services archives. See p. 13 for Executive Order 01.01.2006.04. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  22. ^ Red Line Now PAC Political Action Committee that supports Red Line development. Retrieved 2011-09-26.

External linksEdit