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City Lab: Baltimore demolition fine, Red Line better

The nearly $70o million Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan to address blight in Baltimore is nice, but it’s not what the residents of West Baltimore need.

That’s the argument laid out by the online urban issues publication City Lab, an affiliate of The Atlantic, in the article “West Baltimore Will Get a $700 Million Makeover—Just Not the One It Needs.”

In the article published Monday, author Brentin Mock makes the case that what that area of the city really needed was the $2.9 billion Red Line light rail line that was nixed last year by Hogan.

 Hogan’s project serves a real need, and the dollars he’s devoted are an impressive investment for neighborhoods that have seen mostly disinvestment over the past several decades. But this is not entirely what West Baltimore has been asking for. The proposal only skims the surface of what these communities have been planning themselves for the last 15 years.

What many West Baltimore residents and activists had been calling for are better transit options to get them downtown and to neighborhoods in East Baltimore where the jobs are. Up until Hogan took office, they had that coming. The state had approved a 14-mile, west-to-east Baltimore transit project called the Red Line, something called for as early as 1965, and that has been in the works since 2002. A combined sum of roughly $288 million was spent by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the state on its planning and development—and not just for the Red Line itself, but for revitalization efforts in the communities along its corridor, especially in the west.

But Hogan abruptly killed off the Red Line project last year within his first six months as governor. The state had committed $1.235 billion to the project before Hogan took office. Hogan repurposed that money for a highway improvement program. Baltimore ultimately lost out on $900 million that the federal government had pledged for the Red Line.

— City Lab