Group Hopes New Baltimore Transit Line Means New Jobs

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The newest transit line in Baltimore is expected to carry 57,000 people a day on a path from near Security Mall to Bayview Hospital. As Mike Schuh reports, a broad coalition is trying to make sure local people get jobs along the way.

Saying this is a march and not a protest, a coalition of churches, neighborhood groups and unions are 200 strong. They’re walking a quarter of the distance the completed red line will run, a 14-mile path from Woodlawn to Bayview.

“Man needs a job to feed his family; woman needs a job to feed her family. If we don’t do it, it’s not gonna get done,” said Rev. Hoffman Brown.

He says local jobs are what they need.

As the red line will run down these streets and underground through downtown Baltimore with nearly $2 billion of state money, the marchers want 50 percent to stay locally to train the red line’s neighbors to work on the construction or on the line itself.

“Doesn’t make sense that you’ll build a multi-billion dollar project in the city but not hire people from the city,” Brown said.

Grassroots groups, though, need friends in the smooth marble halls of Congress. To get this built their way, they have a powerful friend.

“I think we do [have an obligation to hire locally]. It’s hard. They see people coming in from outside of their neighborhoods and take all the jobs and they’re sitting on the sidelines with no jobs,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings.

They already have a commitment for the training money but they feel the hardest thing to get will be a commitment for jobs for those who live along the red line.

While construction could begin in 2015, the line isn’t expected to carry its first passengers until 2021.

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