Oct. 24 UPDATE: Here is mayor’s statement applauding the MOU with the Maryland Transit Administration, which was unanimously ratified by the Board of Estimates today.
The Rawlings-Blake administration is expected to approve tomorrow a memorandum of understanding with the Maryland Transit Administration, committing the city to a number of steps to promote the building of the $2.5 billion Red Line (that’s up from the previous $2.2 billion cost estimate).
While so-far-unappropriated federal money is projected to fund the bulk of the project, the city is agreeing to undertake various “roles and responsibilities” to help get construction underway by the end of 2014.
The five-member Board of Estimates is expected to approve the MOU at tomorrow’s meeting.
Most notable among the provisions: Baltimore will provide, at no cost to the MTA, all city-owned property, such as city streets, needed for the line’s right-of-way between Woodlawn in West Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Greektown.
In addition, “the city will take the lead in private property acquisition, subject to full reimbursement by the MTA for the city’s staff, legal and real property costs.”
The MOU also calls on the city to relocate its Public Works and General Services facilities at Calverton Road and Franklin Street at its own expense, complete construction of a new road – the Boston-O’Donnell Connector – prior to the start of construction, build a parking lot for a Red Line/MARC station on Lombard Street in East Baltimore, and add to the width and loading capacity of the Edmondson Avenue Bridge, slated to be rebuilt next year.
The MTA says that the Federal Transit Administration is requesting the MOU as part of its granting process and final environmental impact statement.
If and when construction begins, the city will be expected to pay some of its cost as part of a federal-state-local financing package. The line is now projected by the MTA to be open for service in 2021.