Finally we have some major support for the LRT alternative for the Red Line. The Baltimore Sun reported today that The Greater Baltimore Committee, a regional action group made up of Baltimore business and civic leaders, is backing light rail option because they see it as the best option. Donald Fry the president of GBC said in a post on their website that this is exactly what Baltimore needs: “A quality east-west light rail route that connects with our existing Metro, MARC, and light rail would transform Baltimore’s current transit hodge-podge into an integrated regional rail system.”
The GBC is specifically backing the 4C alternative (details at http://www.baltimoreredline.com/), which would include a tunnel under Cooks Lane in West Baltimore and a tunnel under downtown and Fells Point. It would be integrated to the Light Rail at Lexington Market and the Metro Subway at Charles Center.
I've been promoting this idea for a long time now, ever since I first heard about the Red Line (to the annoyance of most of my friends). This would mean that traffic would not be even more congested downtown, the Fells Point neighborhood wouldn't lost it's quaintly historical feel, but most of all the trains wouldn't be subject to traffic lights for all of downtown. With the two tunnels, the Red Line will be able to travel unobstructed and faster for a good portion of the line, making trips from West to East shorter. This has been the biggest criticism of the Central Light Rail ever since it was opened.
Even better this could help to end the Bus Rapid Transit alternative argument. In this bloggers opinion BRT is the worst excuse for "rapid transit". Boston learned with it's Silver Line that after spending millions of dollars to implement the system, it operated just the same as the normal buses....whoops. Plus in a world of eco-friendly transportation, LRT is emission free.
The toal cost of this alternative is around $1.6 billion and construction wouldn't begin until 2013 and take about 2-3 years to complete. The final decision comes from the big man in Annapolis, the Gov, sometime early next year.