Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Red Line Now! group proves: Red Line will create jobs

The new secretary of transportation, Pete Rahn had listened to the transit advocacy group Red Line Now intently and with interest. In the end he gave the group what one can call a fools errand: Show me the actual jobs that the Red Line creates and that wouldn't be there without it. And he didn't mean the construction jobs or the transit operators, but jobs that would come to Baltimore because of better transit.

Of course, nobody can deliver on that request because hardly any developer has said, I come only with the Red Line, let alone have any developers or companies committed to a certain number of jobs should the transit line be realized. Not with that being at least eight years away, even if all goes by schedule.
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Still, Red Line Now produced a very convincing document that names specific developments, specific investors and developers and quotes their desire to see this line being built. There is no denying that the welfare of this entire metro region will depend on a competitive transit system. The issue isn't really what the line costs or how many jobs it will directly create, the issue is if this area can continue to be attractive to residents and businesses alike if the transportation and the transit system remain sub-par.

This is what Grant Corley of Red Line Now! wrote in his transmittal letter to Rahn:

On the following pages, you will find data for more than 30 projects
along the Red Line corridor, which we have informally gathered
to the best of our ability and knowledge. Our information
was collected by speaking with developers, contacting local institutions
such as the Downtown Partnership, and researching developments
in the local business news. Therefore, while we cannot
claim this to be a scientific or all-inclusive survey, it does help
capture the temperature of development and economic activity
along the corridor.
In total, we have identified at least 6.5 million square feet of developments
new, planned, and in progress along the Red Line
corridor—representing at least 12,000 construction jobs, 10,000
permanent jobs, and more than $3 billion in private investment.
We cannot guarantee how many of these jobs are directly contingent
upon the completion of the Red Line; we cannot see into
the future. However, we can say confidently that the long-term
economic impact of the Red Line goes far beyond specific projects
in planning or construction today. Furthermore, the tendency of
quality transit to encourage greater density and agglomeration of
jobs, residences, and amenities around existing hubs is well known.
That’s why we urge you, in making your decision, to consider
the broader context of mobility, congestion and job access issues
addressed by the Red Line. A narrow focus on “but for” jobs is
simply not enough, and is not the reason we invest in new transportation
infrastructure—whether it be roads or transit.
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Wise words.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

I have been a consultant for the Red Line project since its inception in 2002 and was most recently part of a team looking at community development, station area planning and land use. This work has been suspended since January awaiting a decision by the new governor regarding this project and the Washington area Purple Line

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