TRANSIT: Maryland to lose $100 million in federal funding over Red Line cancellation

The Red Line project was cancelled by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

August 13, 2015

Maryland’s Red Line project was meant to be a 14.1-mile east-west corridor from Woodlawn to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus, punctuated by 19 stations. It would have served areas in western Baltimore County/City and downtown Baltimore, including Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fell's Point, Canton and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus in eastern Baltimore City; moreover, it would have connected with the existing light rail, Metro and MARC trains.

This project will, however, likely never come to fruition. Despite the securing of $100 million in federal funding in 2014, Gov. Larry Hogan decided to cancel the project. In lieu of supposition as to whether and where those federal funds might be redirected, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx made clear in a letter to U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) that the federal Red Line funding cannot be used for other Maryland transit projects despite the governor’s decision to cancel the project.

This letter was Sec. Foxx’s response to an inquiry from Sen. Mikulski regarding the funds. Foxx noted that the Red Line’s specific environmental study and engineering plan were the basis for the award and thus the monies cannot be transferred to another Maryland project. Foxx made plain that any new transit project the state embarks upon must start the project development process over again with state or local money. Foxx did, however, assure the senator that U.S. DOT will hold onto the Red Line federal funding for a short period, in case Gov. Hogan reconsiders his plan to cancel the project.

“It should be noted,” Foxx wrote, “that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not yet received an official confirmation from Gov. Hogan's office that the Red Line has been canceled. Until that time, the project will remain in our CIG pipeline. For a short period, FTA will refrain from redirecting FY 15 funding available to the Red Line, on the chance that the governor might reconsider essential state support for the project. However, if the governor”s slated decision to cancel the project stands, the funds must be redirected to projects in other communities to ensure that they remain actively deployed for New/Small Start investments.”

“For me, the Red Line has always been about jobs today and jobs tomorrow. It is a jobs and opportunity corridor,” Sen. Mikulski said. “I've been bullish on the Red Line so that we can ease congestion, revitalize communities and improve our state's transportation infrastructure. I went to work for Maryland and fought tooth and nail to secure $100 million in the federal checkbook for construction. I am disappointed Gov. Hogan has canceled the project. All options to create a jobs corridor must be on the table and explored.”

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), ridership will grow to 55,000 passengers per day by 2035. Red Line construction was estimated to create 4,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.

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