MD: Mayor Says City's Red Line Contribution to Come From Mix of Offerings

July 23--Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reaffirmed her commitment to the $2.6 billion Red Line transit project Wednesday, saying that the city's required $200 million contribution will come from a mix of cash and "in-kind" offerings.

Creating a new fee to help support the project is something she hopes to avoid.

"That is certainly not a goal," Rawlings-Blake said. "As hard as I have worked to reduce the burden of property tax on our residents, I certainly don't see an additional increase as the first option."

The Red Line -- projected to open in 2022 -- is a planned 14.1-mile transit line that would run from east to west and connect Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus.

Rawlings-Blake's comments come after Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz told the state recently that the county only is willing to pay $26.5 million in "in-kind" contributions, which would include street realignments, storm water management and the addition of sidewalks. The state has asked the county for $50 million.

Kamenetz also said he wants the county portion of the project to be built first.

Rawlings-Blake said negotiations with the state are continuing. She didn't have an immediate breakdown on how much of the city's contribution would come from "in-kind" contribution, and she didn't specify what those offerings may be. She did say that she expects the city's share to be financed from multiple sources.

"My commitment is to do everything we can to make the Red Line project a success," she said. "Every vibrant, forward looking city is a connecting city, and has opportunities and continues to look for ways to increase public transportation. We desperately need that east-west coordinator to connect."

When asked about Kamenetz's reluctance to provide more toward the county's share, Rawlings-Blake said, "This is a regional project that I believe will benefit Baltimore City residents and Baltimore County residents.

"The good thing about having an independent government is he doesn't tell me how to reach my goals, and I don't tell him.

"As we have worked to resolution on numbers and how we'll achieve those numbers, I am sure he will do the same."

ywenger@baltsun.com

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