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

Smith: Hogan Delay May Kill Red Line

Christopher Connelly
/
WYPR

Is the Red Line rail project dead? It’s a $2.9 billion effort. Advocates say it will re-energize the Baltimore region.

But word on the street says it’s dead.

The man who may know, governor-elect Larry Hogan (R), won’t say. Maybe even he doesn’t know. He’s suddenly got a lot on his plate.

He wants to know what he’s talking about before he starts talking.

We can all sympathize. 

But governing can’t wait. Delay could be devastating for something like the Red Line. Hogan signaled opposition during the campaign. So will he follow through and kill the project? He’s repeatedly declined to say yes or no.

Eager Baltimoreans are unlikely to stop asking of course. More than $900 million in federal grants are in hand – almost. But the federal government wants to know what Maryland wants to do. Especially now.

Businesses and policymakers in Maryland say the Baltimore region might flourish if the Red Line can become the transportation system it has needed to compete for jobs and businesses. Without the 14-mile line from Social Security to Bayview hospital, the Baltimore region loses potential for growth.

What Hogan said during the campaign had to do with jobs and taxes. Better transportation could mean more businesses, more jobs and more tax income. He could comfortably stay with the Red Line.

Or, having made himself wary of government spending, he could pull the plug. More consistency there.

Whatever he decides, he should decide soon. Years of planning and the potential for regenerating the economic life of a region hang in the balance.

The Red Line may not be dead. But a two-month delay could kill it.

Another part of the country might love the 900 million.

Your comments are welcome at [email protected].