As I watch these labor and justice organizations shout out that public transportation is bad, losing disability transportation is bad, that public union busting of MTA middle-class wages and benefits are bad----these same organizations back all these incumbents every election knowing they are the gorilla in the room killing their membership!
What does eminent domain and the Red Line light rail construction have to do with threats to public transportation? Well, let's look at O'Malley and Maryland Assembly history to see what MAY be the policy goals of the RED LINE. We know that this coming economic crash will empty government coffers and policy is in place to make sure they stay empty for a decade or more. So, will there really be funding for the Red Line whether a Clinton neo-liberal like Brown is governor or a Bush neo-con? OF COURSE NOT. Remember, Hopkins and Baltimore Development are planning transportation that recognizes a move of Baltimore City line close to the Enterprise Zone locations around city center and that will be the zones public transportation will be supported. East to West borders will move to the center so transportation will not likely be on the agenda.
What has been on the agenda of Maggie McIntosh as Environment and Transportation chair these last decades is the natural gas pipelines to the export terminals. Right now we have Cove Point designated as an export terminal but you know what? It seems likely that pipeline for natural gas distribution will need to come from the transfer center in West Baltimore along the route of the Red Line. Now, if O'Malley and McIntosh stated they wanted to use eminent domain to claim the property needed for natural gas lines do you think that would sell? Give it a progressive spin for public transportation and you have more support. Remember, neo-cons in Baltimore always pretend they support progressive policy and then it never happens or the laws are ignored. O'Malley and McIntosh are tied closely to the fracking and natural gas industry complete with natural gas VEOLA buses. This was called 'green' and given tax credits even as fracking is far worse for climate change and environment than oil drilling. Having a chair of Environment on board with fracking and all the exporting and pipeline that is very anti-environment is very important all the while pretending to be progressive and environmental.
I bring this up with New Deal and dismantling public transportation because I do not believe this Red Line is for public transportation---I believe it is for natural gas pipeline. So, all of this money being spent on studies and infrastructure engineering designs---eminent domain legal process is going to ready for what NO ONE WANTS IN THEIR COMMUNITY---VOLATILE NATURAL GAS.
The Baltimore Red Line is a proposed 14-mile light rail line connecting the areas of Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with direct connections to existing Metro Subway, Light Rail, MARC Train and local bus services.
Natural Gas Pipeline From Owings Mills To Fallston Gets Federal Approval
November 26, 2013 5:09 PM Alex DeMetrick Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ)– A controversial pipeline gets a federal okay. It’s for a new natural gas pipeline to run underground from Baltimore County to Harford County.
Alex DeMetrick reports opponents still hope to block it.
YouTube captured a natural gas pipeline explosion in West Virginia last December–near the same time the pipeline’s owner was fighting a Maryland bill to impose state safety regulations.
“Tremendous audacity for them to come before the General Assembly of Maryland and fight to keep us from safety regulations when one of theirs just blew up in West Virginia,” said State Senator Robert Zirkin.
Zirkin didn’t win that fight and now another’s been lost: a proposal by Columbia Gas Transmission of Texas to build a second gas pipeline next to one that already exists. The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, FERC for short, has approved the line.
At a time when Maryland is privatizing and dismantling public transportation you can bet that eminent domain is being used for other reasons. As the article below shows there is an exodus from Baltimore as all of this development plan kills the downtown and communities all around Baltimore. They just closed a supermarket at Charles Center supposedly for all those new urban dwellers but closed it recently for lack of business.
THE BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND JOHNS HOPKINS FAILS AT EVERY TURN IN DEVELOPMENT BUT THEY HAVE A WELL-OILED MACHINE MOVING A BILLION DOLLARS IN CORPORATE FRAUD INTO THE POCKETS OF THESE INSTITUTIONS.
We have the 10,000 immigrants coming to Baltimore for this reason-----it will take people from a third world nation to put up with all of this. Since the city line is moving to the city center these people could care less about the rest of the city and that includes public transportation. The North to South corridor is being built with the Circulator going as far East and West as development is expected.
EVEN IF YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION YOU SHOULD BE MAD AS HECK THAT THE RISING GAS TAXES ET AL ARE ALL GOING FOR THIS CORPORATE SUBSIDY OF THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY.
Officials urge use of condemnation for Red Line
By: Bryan P. Sears Daily Record Business Writer October 1, 2014
Two members of the state's Board of Public Works called on transportation officials to begin using eminent domain to acquire properties needed for the Red Line and possibly other projects.
Property taxes in Maryland were tied to the extreme level of credit bond debt during O'Malley's terms just to service the debt created by these bond deals. When you are tying Baltimore City schools to a bond deal that hands these schools to investors through default----you have to tie the citizens of Maryland to continue paying this through the only tax source that will be left after government coffers are crushed by this debt----PROPERTY TAXES. This is why they have been high in Baltimore and why they will stay high for small business and residents----THEY PAY FOR ALL OF THE BOND LEVERAGE DEALS FOR CORPORATE SUBSIDY.
So, think of the use of eminent domain and the Red Line and think to yourself-----will raging Wall Street pols like O'Malley and Maggie McIntosh really be interested in public transportation or subsidizing the natural gas industry?
Residents Leaving Baltimore
By Alan Ackerman on June 27, 2008
Posted in National Eminent Domain WJZ.com
Baltimore’s use of eminent domain and high property taxes have caused residents and businesses to leave the city, according to a report by a Loyola College economist.
The city’s policies especially in the developing Charles Center neighborhood and the Inner Harbor have resulted in Baltimore’s high crime rate, poverty and declining neighborhoods, Stephen J.K. Walters wrote in the report, entitled ”Baltimore’s Flawed Renaissance.”
Baltimore residents fear the use of eminent domain, and because of that are less likely to improve properties and many ultimately leave the city, the report said.
The report also cited the city’s highest-in-the-state property tax rate. High taxes caused the city to give major companies tax breaks and subsidies, money the city could have better spent in ways that helped all Baltimore residents, Walters wrote in the report published by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm in Arlington, Va.
Such policies ”doomed the majority of the city’s neighborhoods to continued decay,” the report said. ”Baltimore is today two cities, separate and unequal, not in spite of its extravagant and interventionist redevelopment program, but because of it.”
Matthew Crenson, an emeritus professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University, said the report did not address the effects of deindustrialization, school desegregation or the 1968 riots. The report also does not indicate whether Baltimore uses eminent domain more than other American cities, Crenson said.
The point in this is to suggest that as with the Maryland Transportation Trust in the past-----the kind of transportation that a bunch of corporate pols in the Maryland Assembly would fund----out of a McIntosh Environmental Committee ----would be the transportation of natural gas for profit, not public transportation. This is how you anticipate the goals of a project when you know the pols in place are neo-conservative and not progressive Democrats. A Democrat would never place fracking on steroids or seek to export raw energy sources so the prices can soar.
It is no coincidence that O'Malley's RAIN TAX came from McIntosh's Environment and Transportation committee and not Budget and Taxation. Remember, the RAIN TAX says its to fund projects that keep the bay clean but nothing O'Malley's Administration has done keeps the bay clean. This tax hits only the citizens in Maryland owning property ---residents and small businesses ----big retailers are exempt because of the REIT tax policies that protect them from the responsibilities of property ownership-----and it will go to a fund deemed for environment and that will not be where it goes. It will go to building this pipeline.
Creating more taxes to subsidize corporate profits is EXACTLY WHAT AN O'MALLEY/MAGGIE MCINTOSH TEAM WOULD DO.
If you can imagine all of these policies are in place over a few decades of McIntosh being in this committee, what would be next? THE APPROPRIATION COMMITTEE because now its about funding all of these projects no one wants at a time when the economic crash is going to empty all state and local coffers----you need someone that will focus on keeping corporate subsidy in place while eliminating public services and programs----public employees and benefits---
AND THAT WILL BE THE NEO-CONSERVATIVE MAGGIE MCINTOSH !
New $1B Marcellus Gas Pipeline Coming from NE PA to MD
*Inergy Midstream (Mar 1, 2012)
Three companies are joining forces to spend $1 billion to build a new Marcellus natural gas pipeline that runs from northern Pennsylvania to Maryland. Most major pipelines head in the other direction, trying to tap into northeastern markets like New York and Boston. But Inergy, UGI and WGL, the three partners, have a different take. They want to send gas in the other direction—to the Mid-Atlantic region—and along the way service markets including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Dubbed the Commonwealth Pipeline, this new 200 mile, 30-inch pipeline will start in Lycoming County, PA where Inergy is currently building a gathering pipeline to connect Marcellus wells in Bradford and Sullivan counties, and from there go south through central and eastern PA, eventually connecting to WGL’s gas distribution system near Rockville, MD. The new pipeline will connect with other major pipelines along its route allowing gas to move bi-directionally.
From the Inergy press release:
Inergy Midstream, L.P., a subsidiary of Inergy, L.P., yesterday announced plans to jointly market and develop a new interstate natural gas pipeline known as the Commonwealth Pipeline with affiliates of UGI Corporation and WGL Holdings, Inc. The proposed 200 mile, 30-inch pipeline is expected to transport at least 800,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas when it is placed into service; and affiliates of UGI and WGL are expected to execute precedent agreements to become anchor shippers on the new pipeline. The parties anticipate placing the new pipeline into service in 2015.
The Commonwealth Pipeline will extend from the southern terminus of Inergy Midstream’s MARC I pipeline in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, through UGI’s utility service areas in central and eastern Pennsylvania to a point of interconnection with WGL’s gas distribution system near Rockville, Maryland. The pipeline will connect attractive demand centers in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia to abundant and reliable supplies of natural gas production from across Pennsylvania while providing a more cost-effective transportation path versus traditional routes.
“We are pleased to be working with UGI and WGL to develop this significant infrastructure project, which will provide direct access to new demand markets for gas producers,” said Bill Moler, Senior Vice President and COO of Inergy Midstream. “Gas production in the Northern tier of Pennsylvania has been limited by the lack of take-away capacity in existing interstate pipelines, most of which currently serves markets in the Northeast. The Commonwealth Pipeline is expected to provide much-needed transportation capacity to desirable new and growing demand markets in the Mid-Atlantic.”
John Sherman, President and CEO of Inergy Midstream, added, “This project is a natural extension of Inergy Midstream’s storage and transportation platform in the Northeast. We are committed to developing the critical infrastructure that natural gas customers desire. For our investors, this project adds to our plans for high quality, fee-based cash flows that underpin the stability and growth of our cash earnings.”
The pipeline is expected to cross and interconnect with a number of interstate pipelines along its route, providing customers greater supply diversity while providing producers direct access to expanding markets that are currently served only through legacy interstate pipelines. Upon completion of the MARC I and the Commonwealth Pipeline, shippers will have the ability to move volumes bi-directionally to or from multiple pipelines (including Dominion Transmission, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Millennium Pipeline, Transco, and TETCO) across an interconnected platform of assets to demand markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
The sponsors expect to own equal equity interests in the project company formed to own the Commonwealth Pipeline. The plans are for Inergy Midstream to construct and to operate the pipeline, which is expected to cost approximately $1.0 billion and be funded equally among the sponsors.
A non-binding open season will be announced in March 2012 for shippers interested in acquiring capacity on the proposed Commonwealth Pipeline.*
Do I think that the huge gas tax increase, the Rain Tax, and eminent domain is only for building natural gas pipeline to move product, not people? No, I think it is for the high-speed rail as well. Now remember, we have aging roads and bridges that were to see the gas taxes but you know who wanted high-speed rail? Wall Street and Obama so you know what will be funded? High-speed rail.
Maryland gets $22M for high-speed rail
May 9, 2011, 2:32pm EDT Daniel J. Sernovitz, Staff Baltimore Business Journal
Maryland has been tapped to receive $22 million in federal funds to replace the century-old Susquehanna River Bridge, part of a $2 billion push to upgrade the nation’s high-speed rail lines.
The state will use the money for engineering work to replace the bridge, which federal officials say causes frequent back-ups for commuters due to the high volume of critical maintenance issues needed to keep the bridge in operation.
The bridge saddles Cecil and Harford counties.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the funding Monday afternoon. In a statement, LaHood said he expects the funds will also help create jobs and boost the nation’s manufacturing sector by steering millions of dollars in investment into new rail cars, tracks and materials.
“These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and railcars,” LaHood said in a statement.
In the Northeast Corridor, the transportation department has earmarked $795 million to upgrade some of the most heavily used sections of rail lines. In addition to Maryland’s portion, that amount will also fund: $450 million in improvements in select improvements along the corridor; $295 million to New York to add new Amtrak routes for traffic passing through Manhattan, $28 million for Rhode Island to add a third track in Kingston and to renovate its Providence Station.
I am reading estimates for the passenger price for this high-speed rail as the same as current Amtrack----$120 from Baltimore to NYC for example. The cost of building and maintenance alone will not allow those costs to happen. Below you see estimates in cost. Think how global corporate pols are moving away from public subsidy towards corporate subsidy and you will not see the subsidized tickets they claim will exist. This is simply tiered transport for the wealthy and it will soak all the funding from commuter rail like MARC. This is the kind of project a Clinton neo-liberal and Bush neo-con would support----not a Democrat.
Maryland has as very aging MARC commuter railway and already fails every audit on maintaining rail lines and safety. Can you imagine what will happen with yet another tier of infrastructure to support? The answer is either it won't be supported or the commuter rail will be eliminated. The commuter rail is the public transportation and high-speed rail will be private and profit-driven but paid for by taxpayers from our Maryland Transportation Trust and RAIN TAX.
See why Maggie McIntosh was needed for all of this really, really, really bad corporate legislation? See why she is needed in Appropriations now?
When your labor union leaders support Clinton neo-liberals and neo-cons like McIntosh under the guise of a few temporary jobs in building these structures-----when your justice organization leaders come out to support these policies pretending they really do have something to do with progressive public transportation----
THEY ARE KILLING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND OUR ENVIRONMENT.
Running the Numbers on High-Speed Trains
By Edward L. Glaeser August 4, 2009 6:00 am August 4, 2009 6:00 am Edward L. Glaeser is an economics professor at Harvard.
Is President Obama’s vision of hyper-fast trains racing through America a sound transportation policy or a costly boondoggle? Last week, I began a four-part series on the costs and benefits of high-speed rail. The readers of last week’s post seemed particularly eager to get to traffic congestion and the environment, but space constraints compel me to push these off until next week. Today I will get mired in the sometimes dull arcana of rail costs and direct benefits to users.
I’m going to frame the discussion around an imaginary 240-mile link between Dallas and Houston, but the basic formula for direct costs and benefit is general:
Number of Riders times (Benefit per Rider minus Variable Costs per Rider) minus Fixed Costs.
I’m simplifying, but a formula needs to be simple if interested parties can seriously debate the numbers, and the only way that America is going to get to the right answer on public investments is if numbers trump rhetoric. I will plug illustrative figures into the formula, but not only am I well aware that every number here is debatable, I am hoping for just that debate.
Last week, I cited data from the Government Accountability Office suggesting that $50 million a mile was a reasonable construction cost figure. To make this one-time cost comparable to everything else, which is an annual flow, the fixed cost needs to be converted into an annual cost, which is done by multiplying by an interest rate, capturing the opportunity cost of capital. If that cost of capital is 5 percent (as I said, everything is debatable), then the up-front capital cost is $2.5 million a mile per year, or $600 million for a 240-mile line.
The other cost that is independent of the number of riders is track maintenance. One recent European estimate puts that cost at $140,000 a mile per year for a two-track system. A feasibility study of high-speed rail in Britain came up with the considerably higher figure of $493,000 a mile for surface trains. I’ll stay closer to the lower estimate and go with $200,000 a mile per year, which brings the fixed costs of the track up to $648 million per annum.
Other train costs — rolling stock purchase and maintenance, personnel — more or less scale up or down with the number of passenger miles. Unfortunately, there is plenty of range on these cost estimates. A 12-year-old classic in this field has a number of 10.5 cents a mile (in today’s dollars), but one recent European study comes out at 50 cents a passenger mile. Amtrak’s operating expenses run at about 45 cents a passenger mile. I’ll average between 10 and 50 and plug in 30 cents a passenger mile in operating costs, which comes to $72 for a 240-mile trip.
I estimate benefits by comparing rail to air. A train going from Dallas to Houston at 150 miles an hour would take 96 minutes. Southwest Airlines takes an hour for the same route, but the need to arrive early could add on an extra hour. I’ll add on an extra 36 minutes for the driving time to the airports, which means that the train saves an hour. The per-passenger benefit from the high-speed rail line is the saved cost of the Southwest ticket ($80) plus an hour’s worth of time (let’s say $40, which seems generous), plus any added benefits from the comfort of the train (let’s say $20 more). All told, benefits per trip are $140. Since the variable costs are $72 for the trip (30 cents a mile times 240 miles), benefits minus variable costs come to $68 a trip. If these numbers were right (and I think that they are very kind to rail), then the system should be able to run a healthy operating surplus.
How many riders will take high-speed rail between Houston and Dallas? Amtrak gets about 11 million customers in the Northeast Corridor, which has four large consolidated metropolitan areas together totaling 44 million people. If that four-to-one ratio held in Texas, then the high-speed rail link could expect three million riders, and more to come as Texas grows.
But as President Obama has said one of the appeals of high-speed rail is “walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination.” That’s bad news for Texas. In Dallas less than 5 percent of the population takes public transportation to work, and more than 60 percent of all jobs are more than 10 miles from the city center. For these reasons, driving will continue to be extremely attractive for travelers who want to save parking fees and need cars once they arrive. I’ll go with 1.5 million trips a year (even including future growth), which would make the new rail line about as popular as all airplane flights between the two cities are today.
Now it’s just down to multiplying: 1.5 million trips times $68 a trip means $102 million for benefits minus operating costs. Annual capital costs came in $648 million, more than six times that amount. If you think that the right number is three million trips, then the benefits rise to $200 million, and the ratio between the per rider net benefits and costs drops to one-to-three. This is the cruel arithmetic faced by people, like myself, who would love to be pro-rail. One hint for train lovers who would like to make this comparison look better: make a compelling case that the interest rate should be much lower, as nothing else makes nearly as much difference. Also keep in mind that I haven’t brought in the environment or congestion. They’re up next week.