Funding, Key Bridge delay discussion of MARC train options into Western Maryland

by Geoff Fox

Early last year, the Maryland Transit Authority announced they were conducting a survey to weigh the feasibility of bringing the MARC commuter train service to Western Maryland.

The proposed extension could add stops in the area — in Hancock/Cumberland on the CSX out of Martinsburg on  the Brunswick Line, in Hagerstown using the Winchester & Western Railroad, in Hagerstown using Norfolk Southern Railway, or in Hagerstown using the B&O Railroad.

The Western Maryland Feasibility Study was to be presented to the Maryland General Assembly last summer.

In the year since, there hasn’t been much said about the study.

The Hancock News reached out to State Senator Mike McKay and State Delegate Marc Korman to get any updates on the proposal.

Overall state transportation funding and the Key Bridge collapse are putting a damper on talk of a MARC train extension as lawmakers focus on more critical needs, legislators said.

McKay said the structural challenges that loom over Maryland’s budget due to passage of the “Blueprint” educational plan will tap funding over the next six years.

“The study and funding has been delayed for the extension,” McKay said.

Korman told The Hancock News he wasn’t sure if there were any immediate next steps to the study.

Both said the Key Bridge, which collapsed on March 26 after being struck by a cargo ship, is playing a part in the delay or postponement of the study and talk of a rail extension.

“In addition to the Key Bridge taking up a lot of capacity, there are significant transportation funding challenges limiting our ability to meet current obligations, to say nothing of new projects,” Korman said.

McKay added the Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore has consumed MDOT funding and attention.