Transportation Department Closes Complaint O

Friday, July 14, 2017
Associated Press and WBAL NewsRadio 1090

The U.S. Department of Transportation has closed a complaint alleging that Maryland officials discriminated against African Americans when they canceled a light-rail line in Baltimore.

The Washington Post reports that a letter sent to state officials Thursday states that the agency will “administratively close the complaint without finding.”

Two complaints, consolidated into one, alleged that African Americans in Baltimore suffered “disparate impacts” when Gov. Larry Hogan canceled the Red Line, a $2.9 billion, 14-mile train line. Funds were redirected to highway, road and bridge projects in mostly white, rural areas.

Charles James Sr., director of the department’s civil rights office, says in the letter that the agency will continue a broader review of Maryland’s compliance with a federal law prohibiting racial discrimination in programs receiving federal funding.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said he will be closely watching to see whether transportation officials thoroughly examined state officials’ compliance with federal law. He said Hogan’s decision left up to $900 million in federal funding on the table.

“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,” Cummings said.

Rather than move forward on the long-planned light rail line, Hogan opted on a massive overhaul of the city’s bus routes. The new transit plan, now called BaltimoreLink, went into effect last month.

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