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Baltimore Builds $120M Two-Track Light Rail System

Wed January 30, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Due to a $120-million federal grant, work to complete a two-track light rail system in the Baltimore, MD, area will begin in the spring. An additional $33 million will come from the state of Maryland. The project will convert eight segments of track over 9.4 mi. (15.1 km) from the Warren Road station in Cockeysville to the Cromwell station in Glen Burnie. In addition, second platforms will be built at four stations. Plans are to complete the improvements by 2006.

The current system, which opened in 1992, covers 29 mi. (46.6 km), with 12.4 mi. (19.9 km) of single track from Hunt Valley to Glen Burnie. Riders are often delayed at stations or forced to wait on side tracks for oncoming trains to pass. With daily ridership projections growing from 30,000 to 44,000 in the next five years, there is a need to make the system faster and more efficient. Jack Cahalan, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said, “The whole point is to maximize what this system can be.”

According to the Maryland Transit Administrator, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening’s vision is to achieve 1 million daily transit trips in Maryland by 2020. He said, “To do that, we must complete our current projects and begin planning for our future needs. We’re creating a mass transit system for the next millennium.”

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) reported that construction will be carried out in stages to allow the continuation of regular rail service. However, when necessary, passengers will be shuttled between stations by bus.

Project Engineer Steve Silva of the MTA reported that the initial construction project will involve two bridges in Baltimore City — the Middle Branch Bridge and the Kloman Street Bridge. The bidding process is currently under way, with notice to proceed expected in the spring.

Silva noted that the overall project will involve approximately 10 construction contracts over the next four years.

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