From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today at a meeting with Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Pete Rahn along with federal, state and local leaders announced that Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Anthony Foxx has made clear that $100 million in federal Red Line funding cannot be used for other Maryland transit projects in lieu of Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the project. Senator Mikulski reaffirmed her support for the thousands of Maryland jobs the Red Line transit project would create and support.
“For me, the Red Line has always been about jobs today and jobs tomorrow. It is a jobs and opportunity corridor,” Senator Mikulski said. “I’ve been bullish on the Red Line so that we can ease congestion, revitalize communities and improve our state’s transportation infrastructure. I went to work for Maryland and fought tooth and nail to secure $100 million in the federal checkbook for construction. I am disappointed Governor Hogan has canceled the project. All options to create a jobs corridor must be on the table and explored.”
Responding to an inquiry from Senator Mikulski, Secretary Foxx noted that $100 million in federal funding she worked to secure in 2014 as then-Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee can only be used for the Red Line transit project, with its specific environmental study and engineering plan, and cannot be transferred to another Maryland project. Secretary Foxx made clear that any new transit project the state embarks upon must start the project development process over again with state or local money. Additionally, Secretary Foxx assured that DOT will hold onto Red Line federal funding for a short period, in case Governor Hogan reconsiders his plan to cancel the project.
As Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski in June announced the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Transportation, House and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations spending bill includes a second installment of $100 million federal funds to construct the Red Line. The bill was ordered reported by the Full Committee. The future of this additional funding is now in jeopardy.
The Red Line is a 14.1-mile east-west corridor from Woodlawn to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus with 19 stations. It would have served areas in western Baltimore County/City and downtown Baltimore, including: Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fell’s Point, Canton and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus in eastern Baltimore City and would connect with the existing Light Rail, Metro and MARC Train. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), estimated ridership by 2035 had been expected to be 55,000 passengers per day and construction had been estimated to create 4,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.
The letter from Secretary Foxx, in response to Senator Mikulski’s inquiry, follows:
August 4, 2015
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Mikulski:
Thank you for your letter regarding the Baltimore Red Line project. You asked whether $100 million of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 funds appropriated for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program can be used for other public transportation purposes along the Red Line route.
To your specific question, the funding targeted to the Red Line cannot be shifted to, or reserved for, another yet-to-be-defined transit investment in the city of Baltimore. President Obama recommended the Red Line for a Full Funding Grant Agreement in his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, including $100 million toward a total $900 million Federal funding commitment. The project had been evaluated by the FTA and was advancing toward a funding commitment. The appropriations language made for the FY 15 CI G program that governs the referenced $100 million was clear in its assignments and, unfortunately, any alternative project will not be able to meet the language’s specific funding requirements: “first fully fund projects covered by a full funding grant agreements, then fully fund those projects whose section 5309 share that is less than 40 percent, and then distribute the remaining funds so as to protect as much as possible the projects’ budgets and schedules.”
The FTA has not been presented with any specific alternatives to date. Even if a defined alternative were in play, the Federal CIG statute (49 U.S.C. 5309) provisions are clear that funds can be provided only to projects meeting all of the statutory eligibility requirements, subject to a prescribed evaluative determination. As a result, any new project would have to start the process over with a new source of State or local funding.
We share your concern regarding the effect of Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel and abandon the Red Line project, forfeiting the federal Government’s commitment for the development and construction of the project. The Red Line project certainly would have created thousands of needed jobs and been of great benefit to the State of Maryland’s economy.
It should be noted, however, that the FTA has not yet received an official confirmation from Governor Hogan’s office that the Red Line has been canceled. Until that time, the project will remain in our CIG pipeline. For a short period, FTA will refrain from redirecting FY 15 funding available to the Red Line, on the chance that the Governor might reconsider essential State support for the project. However, if the Governor’s slated decision to cancel the project stands, the funds must be redirected to projects in other communities to ensure that they remain actively deployed for New/Small Start investments.
I assure you that the U.S. Department of Transportation and FTA will continue to work closely with you and other members of Congress to find ways to invest in other major capital projects to enhance mobility, foster economic development, reduce congestion, and improve air quality throughout our great Nation.
If I can provide further information or assistance, please feel free to call me.
Anthony R. Foxx