Red Line (Baltimore)

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     Red Line[1]
Baltimore Red Line Logo - Red.JPG
Type Light rail transit
System Maryland Transit Administration
Status Proposed
Locale Baltimore, Maryland
Termini Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services, Woodlawn, Baltimore County (West)
Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, Baltimore City (East)
Stations 19 (planned)
Daily ridership 54,000 (2030 projection)[2]
Opening 2022; 7 years' time (2022) (planned)[3]
Operator(s) Maryland Transit Administration
Line length 14.1 mi (22.7 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 750V DC overhead
Operating speed Average 18 mph
Route map
Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services
Security Square Mall
Baltimore Beltway overpass
Woodlawn Drive overpass
Social Security Administration
I-70 Park and Ride
Cooks Lane tunnel
Edmondson Village
Allendale Street
West Baltimore MARCMARC Penn
Harlem Park
University CenterBlue Line
Charles CenterGreen Line
Inner Harbor
Harbor East
Fells Point
Canton Crossing
Bayview MARCMARC Penn
Bayview Campus

The Red Line is a proposed east-west mass transit light rail line for Baltimore, Maryland. It is still in the planning stages and has been granted federal approval to enter the preliminary engineering phase. The line's construction is estimated to begin in late 2015-early 2016, subject to funding, with a completion date set for late 2021-early 2022.[2]


In 2001, then-Secretary of Transportation John Porcari appointed a 23-member independent commission, the Baltimore Region Rail System Plan Advisory Committee, to make suggestions for new rail lines and expansions of existing lines. The proposals used a unified branding scheme for the existing lines and the proposed new lines, identifying each line by a color, as the Washington Metro and many other transit agencies do.[4]

The suggested system was composed of six color-coded lines with an overall length of 109 miles (175 km) and 122 stations, including Baltimore's existing Metro Subway and Light Rail lines. In the commission's report, the Red Line was an east-west line that would begin at the Social Security Administration offices in Woodlawn in Baltimore County; travel through West Baltimore, with an intermodal stop at the West Baltimore MARC station; pass through downtown, where it would intersect the existing Metro Subway and Light Rail lines; and passing through East Baltimore, with stops in the newly gentrifying neighborhoods of Fells Point, Canton, and the area around Patterson Park. The Red Line was designated by the commission as the starting component for new work on the 6-line system.[5]

Of the commission's proposals, the Red Line was taken up with the most enthusiasm by area officials. Progress was slowed by a debate between state Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan and the Baltimore city government and Congressional delegation over the mode: Flanagan favored a bus rapid transit (BRT) solution with separate right-of-way components, like Boston's Silver Line; the other officials favored a light rail rapid transit line or heavy rail, insisting that both modes of rail transit be included in studies.[6][7][8]

Heavy rail was dismissed by Flanagan as an alternative, due to an estimated cost of $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion. With ridership of only 45,000 on Baltimore's existing Metro system at the time of his appointment, he did not expect the Red Line to reach the 140,000 to 150,000 ridership level necessary to attract federal funding for a new heavy rail line.[6][9]

Red Line alternatives[edit]

No. Alternative Length
Cost (millions)
(2007 prices)
Travel time
end to end
1 No Build 13.9 n/a 80 n/a
2 TSM 14.3 $281 76 17,600
3A BRT, surface only 13.8 $545 62 31,400
3B BRT, downtown tunnel 14.9 $1,019 56 37,400
3C BRT, downtown tunnel,

Cooks Lane tunnel

14.7 $1,151 53 37,400
3D BRT, maximum tunnel 13.7 $2,404 43 41,500
3E BRT, surface only,

Johnnycake Rd. alignment

14.8 $571 69 29,300
3F BRT, TSM surface,

downtown tunnel

14.8 $755 65 34,300
4A LRT, surface only 13.9 $930 55 34,600
4B LRT, downtown tunnel 14.6 $1,498 43 41,100
4C LRT, downtown tunnel,

Cooks Lane tunnel

14.6 $1,631 41 42,100
4D LRT, maximum tunnel 13.7 $2,463 36 42,300


Modified alternative 4C selected by governor[edit]

In August 2009, Governor O'Malley selected a modified version of the Light Rail Alternative 4C, which became known as the "Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA)."[12] The modification eliminated two stations and a small parking lot from the original Alternative 4C plans, but included an expansion of parking at the West Baltimore MARC station.[13]

Two features of the original Alternative 4C plan, considered important by the Citizens Advisory Council, remained part of the Locally Preferred Alternative:

  • Much of the proposed route through West Baltimore runs generally along U.S. Route 40, including the depressed freeway section left over from the cancellation of Interstates 70 and 170 within the city limits. This freeway section was built to accommodate a transit line in the median, and the Red Line would most likely use this route to achieve grade separation though the area. The western end of former I-170 was demolished in 2010 to allow for additional parking and median access for the Red Line; a similar modification is also planned for the eastern end of I-70, where the current MD 122 interchange will be converted to an at-grade intersection, as a new Park & Ride lot is built to replace the one that sits east of said interchange.
  • The current LPA provides for the line to go underground along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and to surface on Boston Street near the Can Company in Canton, bypassing downtown Baltimore's narrow streets and crowded traffic conditions. Another tunnel bypasses Cooks Lane, but the original LPA version reduced the tunnel to a single track alignment.[13] Adjustments to the LPA were later made to allow a second track in the Cooks Lane tunnel.[2]

The necessary federal funding for construction of the Red Line is not yet secured. Plans currently call for a final environmental impact statement to be issued by 2011, with construction beginning in 2013 and service expected to start by 2016.[14]

With the Federal Transit Administration's approval in June 2011 to start preliminary engineering, the project made its first step beyond the concept stage. However, the FTA estimated daily ridership for the completed system at 57,000 and expected it to cost a total of $2.2 billion with inflation included. Henry Kay, MTA's deputy administrator, estimated the cost of preliminary engineering at $65 million. The state will have to pay preliminary engineering costs, but Kay said that these and other upfront costs would be eligible for federal reimbursement.[15]

Proposed route and stations[edit]

The alignment for the Red Line follows an east–west path. Starting from the west, the proposed stations are as follows:[1]

Station Name Parking Connection
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services No
  • Bus: 15, 20, qb40, 44, 57
Security Square Mall Yes
  • Bus: 15, qb40, 44, 57, 77, 99
Social Security Administration Yes (authorized employee parking)
  • Bus: 15, 44, 57, 77
I-70 Park and Ride Yes
  • Bus: 15, qb40
<< Tunnel portal at city/county line under Cooks Lane and resurface along Edmondson Avenue >>
Edmondson Village Yes
  • Bus: 20, 23, 38, qb40, 150
Allendale No
  • Bus: 23, 38, qb40
Rosemont No
  • Bus: 15, 16, 23, 38, qb40, qb47
West Baltimore MARC Yes
Harlem Park/Poppleton No
  • Bus: 1
Lexington Terrace Yes (residential parking)
  • Bus: 15
<< Tunnel portal along MLK Jr. Blvd. >>
Howard Street/University Center Yes (pay-to-park)
  • Bus: 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 31, 35, 36, qb40, qb46, qb48, 91 120, 160, 310, 320, 410, 411, 420
  • Rail: Light Rail
Charles Center
  • Bus: 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 35, 36, qb40, qb46, qb48, 61, 64, 91, 120, 150, 160, 410, 411, 420
  • Rail: Metro Subway
  • CCC: Purple
Inner Harbor
  • Bus: 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 35, 36, qb40, qb46, qb48, 91
  • CCC: Orange, Purple
Harbor East
  • Bus: 31
  • CCC: Orange, Green
Fells Point No
  • Bus: 10, 13
<< Tunnel portal along Boston Street >>
Canton Yes Bus: 13, 31
Canton Crossing Yes
  • Bus: 7, 13, 31
Highlandtown/Greektown No
  • Bus: 10, 22
<< Aerial bridge between Highlandtown station & Bayview MARC station >>
East Baltimore/Bayview MARC Yes
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Yes (facility parking)
  • Bus: 22, 23, qb40
<< Future Extension to Dundalk.[5] >>
Eastern Avenue No
  • Bus: 10, 23, qb40
O'Donnell Street No
  • Bus: 10, 26, 31
Dundalk Center Place Yes (residential parking)
  • Bus: 4, 10, 31
  • NOTE: qb40 (Quick Bus) will either be replaced or eliminated when the Red Line begins service.

Red Line system features[edit]

Feature Proposed alignment
Overall length 14.5 mi (23.3 km)
Surface length 9.8 mi (15.8 km)
Tunnel length 3.9 mi (6.3 km)
Aerial length 0.8 mi (1.3 km)
Stations 20 total (15 surface, 5 underground)
Parking 6 stations with parking areas
Travel time 44 minutes (Woodlawn to Bayview)
Vehicles 34 light rail vehicles
Service frequency 8 minutes peak, 10 minutes off peak


Citizens' Advisory Council[edit]

Establishment of Council[edit]

The "Citizens' Advisory Council for the Baltimore Corridor Transit Study - Red Line" was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2006.[16][17]

Governor Robert Erlich vetoed the bills which originally created the Citizens' Advisory Council on May 26, 2006, and replaced it with the "Red Line Community Advisory Council." This 15-member Council was appointed entirely by the Governor.[18][19]

At a Special Session in June 2006, the Legislature overrode the Governor's veto.[16][17] The Council established by the Legislature also had 15 members, but only two could be appointed by the Governor. Five of the other Council members are appointed by the Senate President, five by the Speaker of the House, two by the Baltimore City Mayor and one by the Baltimore County Executive. Two co-chairs for the Council could be chosen by the Governor or the Maryland Transit Administrator from up to four nominees selected by the Senate President and Speaker of the House.[20]

On July 30, 2007, an executive order by Governor Martin O'Malley restored the name originally selected by the Legislature.[21]

First annual report to General Assembly[edit]

On September 9, 2008, the Red Line Citizens' Advisory Council voted unanimously to adopt its first report to the General Assembly, which included the statement that "Preparation of a SDEIS [Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement] should begin now, as a collaborative effort between the MTA and the public in finding the best ways to invest over a billion dollars in Baltimore's transportation infrastructure in keeping with the vision of the 2002 Plan."[22]

Council dispute over Alternative 4C[edit]

A recommendation for Alternative 4C (light rail with a downtown tunnel and a Cooks Lane tunnel) was approved by a vote of five to two at the Citizens' Advisory Council meeting on December 11, 2008. Two of the nine members present abstained.[23]

Red Line Community Compact[edit]

This document, signed by city and state officials, and 72 leaders of community organizations on September 12, 2008, describes how they intend to build and operate the Red Line for the benefit of Baltimore and its communities.[24] The Community Compact emphasizes four main points:

  • Put Baltimore to work on the Red Line: encourage and promote local and minority contract participation.
  • Make the Red Line green: include green space and environmental improvements into the project.
  • Community-centered station design, development and stewardship
  • Reduce impact of construction on communities

Mayor Sheila Dixon appointed leaders from city government, non-profit and citizen groups, and the business community to a 40 member steering committee to implement each part of the Community Compact. The Red Line Community Compact Steering Committee held their first meeting on February 19, 2009; the group is scheduled to meet quarterly throughout the life of the project.

The decision at the meeting on December 11, 2008 was disputed at another Advisory Council meeting on July 9, 2009, where 11 members were present. A six to five vote favored rescinding the previous decision for Alternative 4C. Council Chair Angela Bethea-Spearman ruled that the motion to rescind failed, because the vote was less than a 2/3 majority. She cited "Robert's Rules" as the criteria for requiring a 2/3 majority and denying the rescision.[25]

Community opposition to Alternative 4C[edit]

Since late 2008, Baltimore City has favored the "4C Alternative" selected by Governor O'Malley in 2009, which was endorsed by Mayor Sheila Dixon.[1] However, the 2008 Citizens Advisory Council annual report commented on the opposition of community groups to surface rail alignments through residential neighborhoods.[26]

A letter from the Allendale Community Association, read at a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council on December 11, 2008, expressed the Association's opposition to Alternative 4C and any surface rail construction along Edmondson Avenue.[27]

The West-East Coalition (WEC) Against Red Line Alternative 4C, established in June 2009, represents community associations, homeowners groups, businesses and religious groups opposed to the Alternative 4C. Its website explains that the organization considers the proposed light rail alignment to be a detriment to communities on both the East and West sides of Baltimore.[28]

In a letter to Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Benjamin Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, and Mayor Sheila Dixon on July 13, 2009, the WEC described concerns about the effects of double-tracked surface rail, traffic congestion, and safety concerns.[28]

In 2009, the WEC circulated a petition against the surface Red Line in the Canton neighborhood. It delivered 1,350 signed cards to Governor O'Malley on July 31, 2009.[29]

Support for Red Line and Political Action Committee[edit]

In the summer of 2011 the Red Line Now Political Action Committee (PAC) was established to voice the support of residents of Baltimore City for the funding and construction of Alternative 4C. Its website states that the organization is staffed on a volunteer basis and plans to support local politicians that support the construction of the Red Line.[30]

Red Line Now PAC is governed by a nine-member board of directors who are citizen volunteers who live and/or work along the Red Line corridor. The board members represent the Midtown, Edmondson, Canton, Fells Point, Patterson Park, and Greektown communities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Fall 2009 - Baltimore Red Line" (PDF). Baltimore Red Line. Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "MTA Announces Improvements to Red Line". Baltimore Red Line. Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Baltimore Red Line Overview". Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  4. ^ Maryland Transit Administration. "Baltimore Region Rail System Plan Final Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  5. ^ a b Baltimore Red Line Mayor's Red Line information site. Retrieved 2010-1-8
  6. ^ a b Dori Berman (January 13, 2006). "New subway back in play?" (PDF). Daily Record. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  7. ^ Dori Berman (March 16, 2006). "MD Senate committee seeks public input on bills...". Daily Record. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  8. ^ Dori Berman (July 21, 2005). "MD Dept. of Transportation Secretary gets plan for rapid...". Daily Record. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  9. ^ "Red Line Corridor Transit Study: Heavy Rail Metro". Maryland Transit Administration. December 1, 2005. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  10. ^ "Transportation Systems Management (TSM)" seeks improved methods for managing the existing transportation infrastructure.
  11. ^ Citizens Advisory Committee (May 8, 2008). "Evaluation Alternatives Matrix" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  12. ^ Governor O'Malley Announces Red Line Locally Preferred Alternative MTA Press Release (August 4, 2009), retrieved 2010-1-27
  13. ^ a b Comparison of Alternative 4C and LPA Citizens Advisory Council meeting minutes (November 12, 2009), retrieved 2010-1-28
  14. ^ Red Line Project Schedule Citizens Advisory Council meeting materials (October 8, 2009), retrieved 2010-1-28
  15. ^ Michael Dresser (June 28, 2011). "Red Line gets a qualified go-ahead". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1. 
  16. ^ a b Senate Bill 873 (2006) Maryland Department of Legislative Services, Library & Information Service. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  17. ^ a b House Bill 1309 (2006) Maryland Department of Legislative Services, Library & Information Service. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  18. ^ Governor's veto letter, May 26, 2006 retrieved 2010-1-29
  19. ^ Executive Orders 2006 Department of Legislative Services archives. See p. 13 for Executive Order 01.01.2006.04. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  20. ^ Senate Bill 873 and House Bill 1309 Text of bills enacted June 14, 2006 (effective January 1, 2007) from Session Laws: 2006 Special Session. Archives of Maryland Online, Volume 751. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  21. ^ Baltimore Red Line Community Advisory Council Executive Order 01.07.12 (July 30, 2007). Retrieved 2010-01-28
  22. ^ Red Line Corridor Transit Study Initial Report of the Red Line Citizens Advisory Council FY 2008, p. 3. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  23. ^ Meeting Minutes December 11, 2008 Citizens Advisory Council archives. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  24. ^ Red Line Community Compact Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  25. ^ Meeting Minutes July 9, 2009 Citizens Advisory Council archives. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  26. ^ FY 2008 Citizens Advisory Council Annual Report Citizens Advisory Council archives (September 9, 2008). See notes on p. 3. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  27. ^ Meeting Minutes December 11, 2008 Citizens Advisory Council archives. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  28. ^ a b Baltimore Red Line Underground West-East Coalition Against Red Line Alternative 4C. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  29. ^ Canton Responds to Fake Grassroots Movement, Overwhelmingly Rejects Redline Alternative 4c. Baltimore Red Line Underground (August 3, 2009). Retrieved 2010-05-18.
  30. ^ Red Line Now PAC Political Action Committee that supports Red Line development. Retrieved 2011-09-26.

External links[edit]