Canton residents dispute MTA official
When MTA deputy administrator Henry Kay gave an interview to Suzanne Collins of Channel 13 Thursday night about the proposed east-west Red Line, he drew a quick and vehement reaction from Canton residents who oppose a surface light rail line on Boston Street.
Kay was talking about one of the alternative plans for building the east-west transit line between Woodlawn and Bayview called 4C. It would involve building a light rail line in a tunnel through downtown and Fells Point, as well as under Cooks Lane in West Baltimore, but on the surface along Boston Street and Edmondson Avenue.
Some in Canton were unhappy with the way Kay characterized the oppposition to the plan. Ben Rosenberg wrote:
Henry - I saw your interview on WJZ this evening. You said that many people who live just one block off of Boston Street want the Red Line. We've been looking for people like that, but haven't located a single soul. Would you please identify them. I'd like to ask them why they feel the way you say they do. Of course, if you don't really know of anyone who lives a block from Boston Street and supports the Red Line, maybe you should correct the record. It's not a good thing for a public official to mislead the public.
Chuck D. of Canton, who preferred not to use his full name, also weighed in:
Mr. Kay, I saw your interview with Suzanne Collins last night I am quite upset that you made such a misleading and untrue statement that only the people living on Boston Street are upset about alternative 4C. I can assure you that it is hard to find a Canton resident that is for the surface rail on Boston Street. I have walked the streets blocks away from Boston Street - Elliott, Streeper, Curley, Potomac, Robinson, Kenwood, just to name a few - and spoken with many, many residents about what the MTA and City are attempting to do. I have yet to speak with someone that supports 4C. The PR firm retained to work against the Canton community position, is canvassing the neighborhood and providing false information while misrepresenting their association. They are obtaining support signatures under false pretenses. In addition, you conveniently left out the fact that there are numerous alternative plans for the Red Line. The least you could do is tell the whole story and give all the facts. You really can't be surprised by the Canton community's reaction to this potential debacle.
And one more from Bill Sohan of Canton:
I was blown away when I saw your interview on WJZ. You stated that many folks just one block off Boston Street want the Red Line. I was at a community meeting that Jim Kraft put together 2 months ago. Their were probably 100 people there. Only 1 woman stood up and said she was for it. Her name was Jessica and she works for the MTA. How ironic!!! Where are these people that you spoke about.?? I live in a community with 67 homes and you can be rest assured that NO ONE in my community wants this above ground on Boston St. With the other alternatives that are available I only wish that the next time you speak about this publicly that you tell the TRUE facts. We would expect nothing less from our elected officials.
I'm not taking a position on this. I have talked with Canton residents -- none on Boston Street -- who have no problems with a surface Red Line. But I'm not sure how numerous they are.
I will say this: On both sides of town, Red Line opponents are underplaying the downside of the so-called "no-build" option. Both East Baltimore and West Baltimore are being slowly strangled by traffic congestion. Both communities have a huge stake in getting cars off the road. Car traffic may be the devil we know, but it's a mean old devil -- and getting bigger all the time.
It's not enough for residents of these communities to show that a surface Red Line wiill be bad for their neighborhoods or themselves personally. They need to show it will be worse for the entire region than the consequences of doing nothing. If the Red Line is a net minus for a certain neighborhood -- and that has yet to be proven -- but a net plus for the region, I don't think the state has a choice but to move forward.