Baltimore, Maryland/Central LRT Double Track
Central LRT Double Track
The Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA) proposes to construct 9.4 miles of double track to upgrade designated areas of the Baltimore Central Light Rail Line (CLRL) that are currently single track. The CLRL is 29 miles long and operates from Hunt Valley in the north to Cromwell/Glen Burnie in the south, serving Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties, with extensions providing service to Amtrak at Penn Station and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The project will double track eight sections of the CLRL between Warren Road and Cromwell/ Glen Burnie Station. Although no new stations are required, the addition of a second track will require construction of additional station platforms and four stations. Once the project is complete and traffic signal pre-emption on Howard Street has been installed, the project will reduce headways from 17 minutes to 8 minutes in the peak period, and to 12 minutes in the off-peak, and also improve operational reliability. Other elements in the double track project include bridge and crossing improvements, installation of a bi-directional signal system, and catenary and other equipment and systems. The double tracking will be constructed almost entirely in existing right-of-way. The MTA estimates the total cost of these improvements at $153.7 million (escalated dollars). In 2020, average weekday boardings are estimated at 44,000, with an estimated 6,800 daily new riders.
The original Central Light Rail Line was built entirely with local funds. The line began operations in 1992 predominately as single track. MTA subsequently examined the feasibility and environmental impacts and benefits of double tracking eight sections. Three Federally funded extensions of the CLRL to Hunt Valley, Penn Station and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, were completed in 1998. The double track project was adopted by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and included in its financially constrained long-range transportation plan in 1993.
In January 1999, FTA approved Maryland MTA’s request to enter preliminary engineering (PE). The project has been divided into two segments to facilitate environmental review. An Environmental Assessment for the southern segment, Cromwell Station to Hamburg Street, was completed with FTA’s issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in July 2000. FTA approved entry into final design for the southern segment in August 2000. The PE/environmental review phase for the northern segment, 28th Street to Warren Road, was completed with FTA’s issuance of a FONSI in November 2000. MTA has requested FTA approval for entry into final design for the northern segment of the CLRL. MTA is also preparing a request for a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the entire CLRL double track project.
TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(42) authorizes the “Maryland – Light Rail Double Track” for final design and construction. Section 3030(g)(1)(C) specifies that the “Baltimore-Washington Transportation Improvements Program” projects will be funded at an 80 percent Federal share, comparing the aggregate expenditure of State and local funds, including highway funds, provided by the State of Maryland for all phases of the Central Corridor Light Rail project. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $8.62 million in Section 5309 new starts funds to the project.