Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to halt plans for the Red Line commuter rail through Baltimore is getting a court challenge. The NAACP, ACLU and other groups filed a complaint in federal court Monday claiming the decision follows a state government “pattern of deprioritizing the needs of Baltimore’s primarily African-American population, many of whom are dependent on public transportation.”
In the complaint, the coalition calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a civil rights investigation of the Red Line decision, and resulting diversion of state funding for highways, bridges and roads.
The 14-mile commuter rail was slated to cost $2.9 billion, with the federal government paying $900 million of that. The civil rights groups argue that the decision violates Title VI of the federal civil rights act, which prevents discrimination in programs that receive federal assistance.
Hogan has argued that the Woodlawn-Bayview Red Line would have been a “boondoggle,” specifically pointing to a tunnel under downtown Baltimore and Fells Point that was slated to cost $1 billion.
Along with the money for roads, Hogan rolled out plans for a remade bus system for Baltimore called BaltimoreLINK. The system, which would include $135 million additional dollars would include new bus routes with more connections to other forms of transit and technology to help buses traverse routes faster. The complaint argues that the LINK is not a true alternative to the Red Line and had been considered before Hogan’s decision, and argues that the state’s plans are not insufficiently funded.
“Baltimore residents rely on public transportation to travel to work and school. The Governor has not offered an appropriate alternative to ease public transit woes in Baltimore,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
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