Smith: Rawlings-Blake Must Harness Support For Red Line

Jun 20, 2013

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake took the stage at a pep rally recently to declare her support for the Red Line. About time, say those who wonder where her voice has been on this subject.

The controversial project would connect the Social Security complex on the west to the growing Hopkins Bayview Hospital campus on the east.

But it’s more than a light rail line in the mind of some. It could be the city’s ticket to a sustainable future. Lack of adequate mass transit has been a drawback for years. The Red Line, proponents say, would address what some call the city’s Achilles Heel – a transit system with wide gaps.

An impressive band of new housing from the center of the city through Inner Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton is coming on line. Trends suggest that people who move into these places will be reliant on the line. They are likely to be younger or retired people who love a walkable city with good transit.

But last week, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown suggested that Maryland may get only one of two pending mega transit projects – the Purple Line in the District of Columbia suburbs and the Red Line. In a telltale commentary, a federal official said he knew of no opposition to the Purple Line. Not so of the Baltimore project. The Red Line has faced vehement opposition from the start. That could derail the project.

And this is why Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has to do everything she can to address the concerns of opponents. Because the Red Line could be a lifeline.