Rascovar: Hogan’s 20th century approach to transit

Rascovar: Hogan’s 20th century approach to transit

Boston Street portal of the Red Line tunnel

By Barry Rascovar

For MarylandReporter.com

You’ve got to give Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn credit for one thing: honesty.

He fessed up at a legislative hearing last week that Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. had stripped every last cent from Baltimore’s Red Line rail-transit initiative – as well as most of the state’s previously allocated dollars for the Washington area’s Purple Line – and shifted the entire amount into highway and bridge projects far removed from Maryland’s population centers.

All of those hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for rapid rail expansion now “have been committed to roads,” an unapologetic Rahn said.

In place of a $3 billion rapid rail Red Line for Baltimore, Rahn and Hogan say they will make “cost-effective” improvements to the region’s slow-moving, underperforming bus system.

Those will be largely cosmetic fixes. Why? Because Rahn set up a situation where there’s no money to undertake major improvements.

They only care about roads

Road projects are what Rahn and Hogan care about. Money talks and in this case, Maryland’s governor is stating in a loud and clear voice his overriding objective is to throw more and more dollars into asphalt and concrete highways and bridges.

That’s a 20th century response that fails to address 21st century problems.

Rahn was brought in by Hogan to build roads, not mass transit. Hogan wants to live up to his campaign promise to kill the Red Line and the Purple Line. Rahn delivered.

He not only wiped out the Red Line but he’s come up with a delayed, bare-bones Purple Line option for the Washington suburbs. Hogan’s dramatic slashing of the state’s contribution could lead to the line’s demise for any number of reasons.

That would be fine with the Republican governor, allowing him to pour even more transportation dollars into rural and exurban road-building – where his most fervent supporters live — and once again snub mass transit.

Naturally, all of this is papered over with politically correct rhetoric. Hogan is good at that.

High cost of tunneling

Both the governor and Rahn blame the Red Line’s demise on the high cost of tunneling. Rahn even raised the bogus issue of unexpected obstacles that might increase the price tag for this tunneling.

He dredged up Seattle’s problems with a gigantic piece of tunneling equipment called Big Bertha that got stuck, causing construction delays and overruns.

But an engineer with decades of mass transit experience called this a phony argument.

“It’s apples and oranges,” he said. Baltimore’s tunneling wouldn’t have been anything like Seattle’s. “Many, many other cities have used the same tunneling approach we wanted to use in Baltimore without any problems.”

Now Hogan and Rahn say they are studying “dozens and dozens” of options for Baltimore. But others who have talked to state transportation officials say that’s not so. There was, and there remains, no backup plan.

Smoke screen

It’s a political smoke screen.

Here’s another smoke screen created by Hogan and Rahn. They say they won’t move forward until Baltimore’s regional leaders first present them with new mass transit proposals.

But wait: Isn’t mass transit a state responsibility in Maryland?

This is another delaying tactic and a way to shift responsibility.

From a transportation standpoint, Baltimore is dead in the water, thanks to Hogan.

He has zero blueprints for improving traffic flow and rush hour gridlock in metropolitan Baltimore. He has killed any chance of a new rail transit line during his time in office. He’s also cleverly arranged things so he has zero money for any big mass transit initiative.

On top of that, Hogan and Rahn illegally raised bus fares for Baltimore residents – while simultaneously lowering fares for drivers on state toll roads and bridges. That’s what a legislative analyst and some mass transit advocates maintain.

It’s yet another indication of what matters to Hogan.

Again, Rahn and Hogan don’t seem to care. They simply assert they’re right and the legislature’s analyst and other experts are wrong. The last thing they intend to do is ask the attorney general for a legal ruling.

Politics, Hogan-style, has trumped long-range policy considerations.

Under Hogan, mass transit improvements in Baltimore appear remote in our lifetime. His supporters in rural and suburban Maryland are cheering, which is what counts for this governor.

It’s more than ironic that when the governor announced the death of the Red Line, his aides produced a map of the state showing all the rural and suburban road and bridge improvements going forward, thanks to the death of Baltimore’s Red Line.

Lo and behold, Baltimore had disappeared from the state map. It had sunk into the Chesapeake Bay.

This is increasingly what we are seeing from Hogan and Rahn. They couch it in gentler terms so it appears they really do care.

But when it comes to taking action, and putting state money on the table, the only thing that matters to this pair is turning away from urban transit and pouring every last dollar into more and better roadways far from Maryland’s most densely populated areas.

Barry Rascovar’s blog is www.politicalmaryland.com. His email address is brascovar@hotmail.com

9 Comments

  1. Bruce

    the solution is simple, raise the fair of the rail systems to cover the cost of maintaining and building them. Use the gas tax paid for by drivers to maintain and build the roads. Everyone pays for what they use and everyone is happy.
    Naturally it should be required that a community gets to decide if they want a stop in their town or not, example would be where I am, we don’t have any public transportation here, and we don’t want it. It would ruin the community. The roads are already doing enough damage.

    • Dale McNamee

      I agree,but I’m puzzled by your closing sentence : ” The roads are doing enough damage”.

  2. Jarvis

    Governor Hogan, please do something to help the citizens of Maryland who continue to lose their homes due to fraud: Despite the fact that the nation’s courtrooms remain active crime scenes, with backdated, forged and fabricated documents still sloshing around them, state and federal regulators have not filed new charges of misconduct against Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank, Green Tree, or any other mortgage industry participant, since the round of national settlements over foreclosure fraud effectively closed the issue. The BANKSTERS continue to commit fraud upon hardworking people and fraud upon the courts. The biggest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen , where the Banksters created credit out of thin air, not for their borrowers, but for the banksters themselves via the Federal Reserve’s magic check book, with no bank account behind it. The Bankster then loaned that imaginary money to people on the security of overvalued real property with the deliberate aim of reducing the artificially raised property prices and putting people out of work.People without income cannot pay their bills, so they were guaranteed they could steal all that real property from their rightful owners. Of course you would say to yourself, that makes no sense because the Banksters would lose money when foreclosing on the security , but you’d be wrong because the banksters insured the debt with an insurance company, but just forgot to tell the borrowers that. SO they knew they could not lose. Its what you might call having your cake and eating it too. You see, just secretly insuring the debt was the way they ensured that they lost no money. First they sold investors in Wall Street on the idea of using pensions and other fund moneys to invest in the profitable housing market. Then they sold homeowners on the idea of borrowing money against their rising property values, secure in knowing that they had artificially raised those prices and knew they could reverse that trend rapidly, when the time was right. Then they found another group of investors and sold them on insuring against the unlikely risk of those secure mortgages defaulting. But, as you know, they had already insured the downside risk. So they devised a new name that no one understood called the credit default swap. These were not insurance policies regulated by the states, but were unregulated securities sold on wall street to investors. So, once they got the business of insurance outside of the regulatory realm, it was no holds barred and they sold the same investment to up to 20 different groups in respect of every mortgage pool they pretended to create in the securitized mortgage scam.But people need to lose the mindset of someone who has been brainwashed by the garbage put out by government at state and federal level and echoed in the corporate owned media
    SO therefore, The banksters along side Freddie and Fannie, were and still are continuing to submit fraudulent documents to the courts in order to steal homes from homeowners. They and their substitute trustee lawyers (ie Samuel I White PC, just one of many ) are submitting FRAUDULENT papers to the courts in order to FRAUDULENTLY foreclose on homeowners across the nation. Mortgage notes with Forged Owners signatures and ta-da endorsements are being submitted to the courts in order to steal homes. Bank of america(or as they like to refer to themselves…fka countrywide) made a deal with the attorney generals to modify loans that they really had no right to modify as they were illegally acquired to begin with. They committed notary fraud, forgery, added fake endorsements and as their crimes began to come to light…………they made a deal and instead of modifications (which they LED the homeowners to believe what was happening)….they handed the fraudulent documents over to Green Tree, soon to be called DiTech..corporate criminals are notorious for changing their names after lights shine on their crimes…, among others, to foreclose. Meanwhile, homeowners are the ones who are paying the price by having their homes taken because of felonies that are being committed . Fraud upon the courts, racketeering, forgery, wire fraud, notary fraud…pathetic, nauseating, and just all around COMPLETELY disgusting. Wake up America. Wake Up.
    REPLY

  3. Dale McNamee

    Barry, Barry, Barry,

    Why don’t you and those who share your feelings regarding this actually pay for it with your own money…not mine ?

    I won’t be using it… Why should I be forced to support it via my taxes ?

  4. abby_adams

    Just remember Barry, the money doesn’t come from the state. It’s TAXPAYER dollars & the collection of ever increasing gas tax dollars that fill the State Highway Fund coffer.

  5. George F Harrison

    RickinBmore is right. The failure of Democrats to turn out the vote in the last election handed the Republicans the governorship. The party leadership failed us along with a terrible campaign by the gubernatorial candidate. So, we got Hogan and he’s shoving it in our face. I thought he would be better than Ehrlich, but it appears he is worse. Yes, elections do have consequences and this is hard lesson to learn.

  6. joe

    Baltimore city wants rapid rail service, let the city government pay for it by first cleaning up the crime problem and then attracting new businesses to the city!

  7. MTA000

    you asked for this barry. this is what you wanted.

  8. RickinBmore

    Well said. The suburban Right-Wing in this state has no concept of what modern cities need to compete in a global economy. Cities from Seattle to Seoul to Madrid are building or expanding urban rail systems with lots of tunneling to ensure fast and reliable transit. It’s not cheap, but very well worth it. But the Hogan Crowd wants Baltimore to suffer. As far as they are concerned, the state’s historic, cultural and economic heart is a dump full of “thugs”. So be it. If Baltimoreans (and people in PG and MoCo) had bothered to actually vote last November, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But they didn’t, so they have no one else to blame. Elections have consequences and Baltimore is reaping the whirlwind.

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