Canton residents, businesses infuriated by Red Line plans

Written by on January 30, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - 10 Comments

This is a Maryland Transit Authority rendering of the Red Line on Boston St., where the train emerges from underground.

About 50 Canton residents and business owners very strongly rejected two construction options for the Red Line train project last night.

One option would be to close a stretch of Boston St., from just west of the S. Montford St. intersection to just west of the westernmost entrance of the Can Company. Traffic would be rerouted to Fleet St. and Eastern Ave. To the west, traffic would access Fleet and Eastern via Lakewood and Kenwood avenues. To the east, traffic would be rerouted via Conkling St.

The other option would be to construct a temporary bypass through the parking area owned by Anchorage Townhomes. It would start near the Canton Market and re-connect with Boston st. near the Anchorage Tower.

“You’ve come up with two options, neither of which are acceptable,” said Ben Rosenberg, an attorney who lives in the Moorings townhomes on Boston St. “Use all your brains and come up with another option that doesn’t cause this kind of disruption to people’s lives, people’s homes, and people’s businesses.”

Engineer Tom Mohler of the Maryland Transit Authority told Rosenberg that he would personally commit to finding a third option, but wasn’t sure if there were in fact any other possibilities.

The Red Line plans call for a transition from underground to above-ground more or less along Boston St. from S. Montford Ave. and Hudson St.
West of that point, the Red Line would run underground; east of there, it would be above the surface.

Responding to a question as to why the Red Line will run above ground at that point, Mohler replied that a number of factors led to that decision, “cost being a major one.”

Mohler said that while an underground boring machine would tunnel through downtown Baltimore, the point where the train transitions to the surface would be a “cut and cover” area—digging would have to be done to access and remove the boring machines, and then the top of the pit would be covered. The end result would be a tunnel sloping up to meet the surface.

That transitional area, on Boston St. between S. Montford Ave. and Hudson St., would require 9-12 months of work and diverted auto traffic in 2015. In total, Canton would see heavy construction for 24-30 months, Mohler said, first for the cut-and-cover, then for a retaining wall. At completion, the train would run down the middle of Boston St., with auto traffic lanes on either side.

While a couple of the assembled residents and business owners spoke in favor of allowing the MTA staff to say their piece, none spoke in favor of the Red Line project itself, and it appeared that all who spoke were against both options for the Boston St. area.

Dan Sussman, a resident of the Anchorage Townhomes, exploded at the bypass idea.

“Where does that bypass road go?” he said, rising to his feet. “I think that’s our property!”

Sussman said that people in his homeowners’ association had supported the Red Line—without having that piece of information.

“Why did you lie to us from the beginning?” he said, adding that his group would fight “tooth and nail” to prevent the bypass from happening.

“So clearly you don’t like option two,” said Mohler.

“We don’t like option one!” responded a large number of people from the audience.

Business owners expressed concerns both with the loss of parking spaces and with the disruption to customer access during the project. The MTA engineers said that there would be points for pedestrians to cross Boston St. at all times during construction.

The owner of the Outback Steakhouse said that when he is at work, he sets a two-hour alarm and moves his car up to four times to comply with the permit parking area requirements.

“Imagine what my customers are going to go through,” he said. “There’s no parking now.”

Tony Vasiliades, owner of Sip & Bite Restaurant, said that he planned to circulate a petition against the project. He said that he expects many businesses to close should the Red Line proceed as planned.

Canton resident Joe Collins expressed concerns about the possibility of tunnel flooding in a weather event similar to Hurricane Sandy or Irene.

“We have taken into account that the tunnel will not flood under those circumstances,” said Mohler.

The meeting ended as residents and business owners got out of their chairs; one of the residents passed around a sign-up sheet for the assembled group to hold its own meeting at a later date.

Collins told the MTA staff that they should take the proposal “back to O’Malley” because “lawyers are coming.” He added that he had personally phoned all local elected officials, none of whom attended the meeting.

by Erik Zygmont
editor@baltimoreguide.com

10 Comments on "Canton residents, businesses infuriated by Red Line plans"

  1. K Kent February 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm · Reply

    To Greg &MD Comments:

    Take a BUS!! They run up & down Boston St. all day& night & they are always EMPTY – plenty of room for you!! Sure, they are somewhat slower than a train, costing you more minutes of your time, but you are asking that business owners on Boston St. and the Marina there to SHUT DOWN, costing THEM THOUSANDS, maybe MILLIONS of dollars so YOU can save some time!! OBVIOUSLY, you have NO concept of the CURRENT parking problems in Canton! Out-of towners coming to the Marina and Canton MUST come by CAR, and have MUCH trouble finding parking, NOW!! Do you not understand that the Red Line WILL ELIMINATE 100’s of parking spaces, putting businesses & the Marina OUT-OF-BUSINESS??

  2. Anonymous February 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    Funny that Kraft just passed a moratorium that prohibits permit parking in Canton for the next 5 years…that would bring us to…2018. 3 years after the work starts and the traffic is diverted. Canton is going to be a nightmare! This is just such a shame that I politician and elected Councilman can allow these kind of things to happen and actively take part in the decisions. I used to tell all of my friends from Federal Hill how great Canton was to live and how much better it was and I’m beginning to think that I’m the fool. Time to move.

  3. MDcomments1 January 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm · Reply

    Can’t wait until the Red Line is built!!!!!! It will be so much easier to get to Harbor East, downtown, the stadiums, and to MARC trains to Washington.

    When the line is built, it will be good for businesses and residents who can go out to eat, entertainment, or work without having to use a car. Like a real city!!!!

  4. Greg January 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm · Reply

    Leave it to the over-priveleged nimbys in Canton to stand in the way of the needs of everyone else in the region. They’ve blocked access to the waterfront, turned working class houses into tiny McMansions and contribute to the parking and traffic problems they constantly whine about.

    • Canton neighbor January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm · Reply

      Sorry, I’m not a Canton elite and have lived here 20 years. Since moving here in our un-rehabbed house, while we have gained some great things, we have also lost parking. Plus, re-routing traffic will only serve to make Fleet St. and Eastern Ave. over burdened. This is a crazy idea that may help people get to their stores, restaurants, or other fun stuff at the Inner Harbor at the expense of an entire neighborhood.

    • Winston Smith February 1, 2013 at 6:28 am · Reply

      Greg,
      I would imagine you have nothing invested in your neighborhood, but many people who live in Canton would take offense at your characterization of people here. If you lived in the neighborhood you would understand how bad an idea it is to close boston street and divert traffic up into the grid of Eastern and Fleet. Those street are not designed to handle the extra thousands of cars per hour that go up boston every rush hour. I would imagine you would have something to say about putting a highway on your doorstep which is essentially what they are planning to do to fleet, eastern and connecting streets. Lastly, the McMansions you are talking about are not the problem with traffic or parking. Many of those new construction/ rehabs have off street parking and most of those people have very short commutes if any. Its those people like you who commute into and through our neighborhoods or come down here to party after the football games that contribute to the parking and traffic issues.

  5. NIMBYs January 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm · Reply

    Maybe Tony Vasiliades should focus on obeying the city’s sanitation laws instead of impeding progress.

    http://cels.baltimorehousing.org/zPhotoList_Resize_On.aspx?CNum=52773413

    • edd821 January 24, 2013 at 11:04 am · Reply

      Did you really say “progress”? You must work for Jim Kraft!

      • NIMBYs January 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm · Reply

        Since when does Jim Kraft support progress. He’s against the Red Line- at least that’s what he says when he’s buying your votes.

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