Cummings Statement on Transportation Department’s Decision to Close Discrimination Complaint on Red Line Cancellation

July 14, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC (July 14, 2017) — Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) notified the Maryland Department of Transportation that the DOT has decided to close “without finding” the complaint filed in 2015 alleging that the decision to cancel the Red Line project violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act:

“The Governor’s decision to cancel the Red Line and walk away from as much as $900 million in federal investments was a devastating setback to the City of Baltimore and to local residents who rely on public transit.  The complaint filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union raised critical questions about this decision’s impact on Baltimore’s residents – particularly African American residents – and I am deeply disappointed that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is summarily closing the complaint without issuing any findings.  

“I will be closely watching to see whether the compliance review the USDOT has initiated thoroughly examines all aspects of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) compliance with the Civil Rights Act, including whether MDOT’s investment decisions – for the Red Line and for all infrastructure projects – are disadvantaging minority residents in Baltimore and the State of Maryland in any way.”

Rather than pursue the NAACP’s complaint, the DOT announced it would “proceed with a broader comprehensive compliance review process.”  In its letter to MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn, the DOT wrote that the compliance review was initiated “in early June” and “is broadly assessing MDOT’s Title VI compliance through a multi-part comprehensive compliance review process.”

The proposed Baltimore Red Line lightrail system would have connected the east and west sides of Baltimore, providing much-needed access to public transportation to areas of the city where the median income was just over $31,000 and where 39 percent of households lack access to an automobile.  Construction of the Red Line would also have spurred an estimated $2 billion in economic activity in Baltimore over the construction period, while creating or supporting more than 9,000 direct construction and related jobs, according to the Jacob France Institute.  In June 2015, Governor Hogan announced that he will not build the Red Line.