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Debate Over Possible Light Rail Red Line Continues

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A long-planned light rail line hangs in the balance. For years, lawmakers, businesses and homeowners have pleaded with the state to build the Red Line, but the multi-billion dollar project still has some opponents.

As Gigi Barnett explains, a summit set for this week is designed to get more backers on board.

Baltimore's light rail system mainly runs north to south. For years, passengers rallied for a train to take them from east to west.

"That will make a tremendous difference to people like me and people who have jobs who need to get there on weekends," said one passenger.

The nearly $3 billion, 14 mile project will take passengers from the Woodlawn area to Hopkins Bayview neighborhood---but a groundbreaking still hasn't happened.

Now state transportation leaders are hosting a summit this week to drum up support at the State House and educate passengers on potential improvements, like more jobs and businesses, that the Red Line could bring to their neighborhoods.

"It's going to run through a lot of the neighborhoods in West Baltimore that have been historically disadvantaged," said Baltimore Department of Transportation Director William Johnson. "I look at it as an opportunity line."

But he Red Line wranglings with those against it continue.

"Nobody wants another tunnel. It's just crazy to spend that kind of money on another tunnel," said Benjamin Rosenberg, Right Rail Coalition.

Rosenberg is the spokesperson for the Right Rail Coalition, a group of community organizations who say the above-and-underground design of the Red Line is too costly and disruptive. Rosenberg says the city should spend most of the millions set aside for the east-west line on expanding the cash-strapped Charm City Circulator.

"The city can't find $2 million to make the Circulator what everybody wants: more rides, more circulation. People love the Circulator. Yet they're going to spend $3 million on the Red Line that they don't have," Rosenberg said.

Earlier this month, about 60 state lawmakers sent Governor Larry Hogan a letter asking him to build the Red Line.

The summit is on Tuesday in front of City Hall.

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