It's a fact politicians who support the Red Line don't want you to know. When all the money is counted — a maximum of $900 million from the Federal Government and $1.2 billion from the state of Maryland — the Red Line budget falls at least $550 million dollars short of what is needed, and that doesn't take into account the substantial cost overruns typical of projects like this one.
So where will the money come from? The state refers to "local sources," which is a thinly disguised euphemism for "Baltimore Taxpayers." And since Baltimore City has $0 allocated for the Red Line, the only way to raise it is with a substantial property tax increase. What hurts worse is that 95 percent of the Baltimoreans paying the tax will never ride the Red Line. While Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks of growing our population, a Red Line tax will be the fastest way to carry middle and upper income families out of the city. And this is for a rail line that even its supports admit has many flaws and shortcomings. It's time for our politicians to come clean and come to their senses.
Currently there is an alternative Red Line proposal on the table that would stop the route at the Lexington Market Metro station and then extend existing Metro service from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Johns Hopkins Bayview. It would more than $1 billion less, connect directly to the City's Metro system, attract far more out-of-city commuters and could be started immediately with current state funding.
The Red Line could be one of the worst financial/transportation mistakes in our city's history, but there is still time to fix it. All we need is the courage and common sense to do it.
Jon Hyman, Baltimore-
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