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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Paterakis' Clout Changes Red Line Route. Will It Change Funding?

Tom Chalkley

You know someone has clout when he or she can make subway planners turn on a dime.

In this case, they turned on many dimes. We’re talking about the $2.6 billion--mostly federal money--headed for Maryland to build the Red Line. Some say the project is critical to the New Baltimore rising along our waterfront.

Car-free empty nesters and young adults with car phobias (not to speak of Baltimoreans on the way to work) need the Red Line, a Social Security-to-Hopkins Bayview subway.

Now, though, with the cash not in hand, city and state officials have agreed to a major rerouting of the Line. Why? To accommodate the wishes of John Paterakis Sr., the baker and developer.

Maybe Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake checked it out. Maybe the feds said not to worry. But maybe that wasn’t the only thing to worry about.

The route change moves one of the planned station stops to the corner of Fleet and Exeter Streets on the fringes of Little Italy. Paterakis wanted the change so he could proceed with another development.

But guess what? Little Italy restaurant owners and others don’t like the change.  Others don’t like the line, period.

The Baltimore Brew quotes a state planning official, Henry Kay, saying, “If we can avoid a conflict, we will.” Given all the money at stake, the planning that’s been done and the importance of the Red Line, you know he wouldn’t have wanted to create conflict. But we have one. At least one.

If Paterakis can get what he wants, what about the others?