Red Line panel meets tough crowd in Canton

Written by on July 17, 2013 in Neighborhood News - No comments

A rendering of the proposed Canton station of the Baltimore Red Line - Image courtesy of the Maryland Transit Authority

When public comment was curtailed and an agenda item on Boston St. construction was not reached, Canton residents left more than fuming from a Red Line Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting.

Residents near the stretch of Boston St. between Montford Ave. and Hudson St.–where the Red Line train would transition to the surface as it heads east—have long opposed that aspect of the project.

The last time Red Line plans were presented to the Canton community, at a January public forum, Maryland Transit Administration engineers gave two traffic re-routing options for the prolonged construction of the Boston St. tunnel transition. Both were soundly rejected by the residents and Boston St.-area businesses that attended that meeting.

One option was 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 was 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.

At the Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting last Thursday, committee member Emery Hines, a senior transportation officer for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works, spoke of a video showing how the traffic disruption caused by the Boston St. construction could be managed.

Hines said that the video was shown by engineering consultants at the first and only meeting of the CAC Construction and Operation Impacts and Mitigation Subcommittee, which he chairs.

“It was so good that we told them, ‘You have to come down and see those folks [concerned about the Boston St. construction],’” Hines said, adding that the video would be shown later in the evening.

It wasn’t; time ran out for use of the meeting venue, Du Burns Arena, and the meeting adjourned before that agenda item was reached.

The CAC did hear updates on station design and tunnel and train safety.

“We’re in Canton. The video is about Boston St.,” commented Canton Community Association President Darryl Jurkiewicz after the meeting. “Why not put it first [on the agenda]?”

Canton residents attending the meeting grew clearly frustrated with the CAC. CAC guidelines, which were adopted by the CAC itself, state that public comment must be related to whatever presentation the CAC is reviewing. The guidelines also state that the co-chairs of the CAC, Rodney Orange and Angela Bethea-Spearman, may rule questions out of order, and that “expressions of support or opposition to the project are not permitted.”

At one point, Canton resident Nancy Braymer spoke up during CAC discussion, saying, “I know you don’t want comments…”

“No, there won’t be comments,” said Bethea-Spearman, adding that the CAC would take public comment “if and when there’s time” at the end of the meeting.

“She walked in at 7:44, and she’s talking about time,” said resident Dustin Ritter, referencing the 7 p.m. start time to the meeting.

He walked out angrily.

When Orange informed the public in attendance that scheduled use of the facility had ended and the meeting must adjourn, without a screening of the Boston St. video, another testy exchange ensued.

“You have every right to to complain to the MTA,” Orange said. “You’re not going to see it tonight.”

“You don’t represent the citizens at all,” said Braymer to the CAC, which is appointed by state elected officials. “This is a disgrace.”

by Erik Zygmont

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