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Supporters hope a new Governor means equity will be considered in Maryland’s future transportation projects

Baltimore State Sen. Jill Carter speaks at press conference in Annapolis March 1, 2023.
Matt Bush
Baltimore State Sen. Jill Carter speaks at press conference in Annapolis March 1, 2023.

Supporters of including equity as a measure in studies for future transportations projects in Maryland are hopeful new Gov. Wes Moore will give their plans an okay after his predecessor stopped them.

Then Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill last year that required equity be a part of how future transportation projects and priorities are determined in Maryland.

Baltimore County Democratic Del. Sheila Ruth introduced the measure again this year, and is hopeful new governor Moore will treat it differently.

“I think (with) this governor equity is clearly a focus and leaving no one behind is a focus,” Ruth said at a press conference Wednesday in Annapolis. “So I am optimistic, but I have not had a conversation with the governor.”

Supporters say the need to look at equity in transportation planning was only exacerbated by Hogan’s controversial decision to cancel the Red Line project in Baltimore back in 2015.

The effects of that cancellation are still felt in the city according to Baltimore City State Sen. Jill Carter, who introduced the Senate version of the equity bill this year.

“People in Baltimore City — and in other parts of the state — are living in what is the equivalent of transportation apartheid,” Carter told reporters Wednesday. “This is a civil rights issue.”

New Gov. Moore has vowed to resurrect the Red Line project, a proposed east-west mass transit line across Baltimore City.

As for whether the equity bill would help in that quest, Del. Ruth said not directly.

“It would ensure that there are data and analyses in place to ensure that any initiatives that move forward are fair and don’t have disparate impact,” Ruth said.

There was $900 million in federal funding that had been secured for the Red Line project when Hogan canceled it.

The NAACP, ACLU, and other groups filed a complaint with the federal Department of Transportation, asking for an investigation into whether the governor’s decision violated the 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Act because the Red Line would have primarily benefited Baltimore’s Black population.

The DOT during the Trump administration closed the matter without releasing any findings.

***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Del. Ruth as representing Baltimore City, not Baltimore County***

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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