MTA offers third option for Red Line construction in Canton

Written by on August 14, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

Last week, Cantonites packed a hot room at Du Burns Arena for another contentious meeting on the construction of the Boston St. portal of the Red Line. - Photo by Erik Zygmont

Cantonites who live and own businesses on and near Boston St. finally got to see that video about a third option for construction of the Red Line portal at the Boston St., Montford Ave. and Hudson St. intersection.

They were not impressed.

“I think you’re O for three, and you ought to go back and try again,” said Ben Rosenberg, an attorney who lives in the North Shore homes on Boston St. and is part of the Right Rail Coalition, a group that says it is looking to re-evaluate the Red Line plan, especially for the east side.

At a Red Line meeting back in January, in which Boston-St.-area Cantonites soundly rejected two traffic mitigation proposals for the portal construction, Rosenberg had asked MTA engineer Tom Mohler for his personal commitment—which Mohler verbally gave—to offer a third option.

The video of the third option was originally on the agenda for a mid-July meeting of the Red Line Citizens’ Advisory Committee at the Du Burns arena, but residents left frustrated and angered when the meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. before reaching that point.

Last Thursday, the Maryland Transit Authority came to Canton—without the CAC—and screened the video, answered questions and took comments.

The MTA said that “Concept 3” was developed following the reaction of Boston St. residents and businesses to the other traffic mitigation proposals. The portal is the point—approximately at the intersection of Boston, Montford and Hudson—where the Red Line tunnel emerges from underground.

Concept 3, according to the MTA video, would keep two lanes of traffic on Boston St. open at all times, through the three years it would take to construct the portal and temporary, traffic-accomodation measures.

Traffic would be pushed in phases to the north side of Boston St., the south side of Boston St., the outer edges of Boston St., and repeat. Both eastbound and westbound traffic would be allowed to make right turns only. If an eastbound-traveling driver wanted to access the Can Company, for example, he would have to drive past the entrance and make a U-turn at the Lakewood Ave. intersection.

About 200 people came out to see the video and ask questions about the construction of the Boston St. portal. Delegates Peter Hammen and Luke Clippinger and State Senator Bill Ferguson, of the state’s 46th legislative district, attended, as did City Councilman Jim Kraft. Kraft has stated in the past that funding impetus for the Red Line would come from the elected officials of the state’s 46th district.

Prompted by a member of the public to give a “best case” timeline for the construction, Mohler replied that construction could start “mid-year 2015,” from west to east, meaning that construction on the Boston St. portal would begin in 2016 or 2017. Service, Mohler said earlier in the meeting, would commence in 2021.

As with other Red Line meetings held in Canton, residents and business owners were frequently vocal in their disapproval of either traffic mitigation proposals for construction or of the overall eastern portion of the project itself.

Mark Lasker, a part-owner of Langermann’s, located in the Can Company, said that he feared his restaurant would not survive the construction, and asked if there was “anything we could do to move the Red Line somewhere else.” He was met with chants of “yeah” and “here here.”

One man told the group that it had taken him 25 years to build his business, which he feared would be destroyed by the traffic complications of construction.

“Is there money in the cup to cover my losses?” he asked.

“There are some state and federal regulations that allow for mitigation to businesses as well as residents impacted by the Red Line,” replied Mohler.

Other residents and businesses bemoaned the loss of a travel lane on Boston St., as well as street parking from Hudson/Montford to Lakewood Ave. There will be a large park-and-ride built near S. Clinton and Boston St.

Mohler encouraged the public to read the Final Environmental Impact Statement of the Red Line, available at baltimoreredline.com. He also urged concerned businesses and residents to contact John Enny, Red Line Community Liaison for the eastern side of the project. Enny may be contacted at 443-691-9163 or jenny@baltimoreredline.com.

by Erik Zygmont
editor@baltimoreguide.com

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