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Southeast Baltimore alignment plan: will it work?

Baltimore is promoting new infrastructure and a new traffic pattern for O’Donnell Street and Boston Streets between Interstate 95 and Canton. The $40 million project would extend Boston street northward to meet O’Donnell. Your average traveler would use O’Donnell Street to get to and from 95, while heavy trucks would use Boston Street.

Though most drivers would be able to avoid the annoying railroad tracks that force them to stop along Boston Street when a train is crossing, trucks would not get any relief from those delays. People around Canton yesterday had their doubts about the city’s plan, which is being discussed at a Wednesday public hearing. A lot of folks want to see the city push forward with a plan that would install a bridge over the tracks and another railroad bridge.

That plan would be more than twice as expensive, though, according to the city, and isn’t seen as a realistic possibility. It would probably be pretty hard to get all the property the city would need for that plan as well. Though, there’s some concern in the neighborhood that O’Donnell Street won’t be able to handle additional traffic on its own, the city says there’s extra capacity.

I caught another bit of discord yesterday as I researched my story, though. The city thinks its plan would help it lay the groundwork for an above-ground Red Line light rail link. In the city’s plan for that project, trains would travel under downtown and Fells Point, but would resurface in Canton. A lot of people in the neighborhood are still unsure about that plan. I haven’t spoken to anybody in transportation planning who thinks the state’s going to get enough money for any more tunnel.

One question that I kept asking yesterday was whether people thought the new plan would help at all. I got mixed reactions. What do you think?