ANNAPOLIS, DEC. 10 -- A new state transportation study supports the creation of a $100 million light rail line between Baltimore and Anne Arundel County intended to reduce traffic congestion, but also provide easy access for thousands of suburbanites to the Baltimore sports stadium complex pushed by Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
According to several Anne Arundel County officials, the study, which has not been released by the state Transportation Department, said it would be feasible to build a rail system linking Baltimore, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and the north Anne Arundel County commercial hub of Glen Burnie. The system, which the study said could be completed in four years, would have a stop at Baltimore's Camden Yards, the site of the new sports facilities, which have not yet been constructed.
Del. Timothy F. Maloney (D-Prince George's), head of the Appropriations subcommittee that deals with transportation, said Schaefer had placed a high priority on light rail and will probably ask the legislature for money for it during the 1988 session.
"I think the legislature will be generally receptive," Maloney said, but should insist that light rail routes between Washington and Annapolis and Washington and Baltimore also be studied. If transportation spending remains balanced between different areas of the state, he said, rivalries between Washington and Baltimore area legislators should not stand in the way of a light rail system.
Anne Arundel officials, who have pushed the current proposal for four years, said they hope the light rail system -- usually two- or three-car electric trains -- eventually will run 15 miles south to Annapolis.
Officials in several other areas of the state, including the Washington suburbs and Baltimore County, also want light rail systems. But several officials said today that a light rail system in Anne Arundel would be easier to build because it could follow the route of a railroad that ran between Baltimore and Annapolis until 1950.
The rails between Baltimore and Glen Burnie still exist, and are sometimes used by freight trains, primarily to carry paper to the Alco-Gravure Inc. printing company in Glen Burnie. From Glen Burnie south to Annapolis, the railroad right-of-way is owned by Anne Arundel County.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) told Anne Arundel legislators yesterday that they should expect no organized opposition from senators in the Washington area, who have hopes for their own light rail systems.
"In the Washington area, the costs are so huge in terms of environmental concerns, planning and right-of-way acquisition that the possibility of Anne Arundel getting light rail is years and years ahead of anything else," the Senate president said today.
State transportation officials who were involved in the study were attending a convention in California today and could not be reached for comment.
However, Brad Davidson, chairman of the State Commission on the Capital City, said his commission was told by state transportation planners that their study showed that the rail line was feasible, could be built within four years at a total cost of $110 million, and would attract between 20,000 and 25,000 riders each day.
Davidson said he believed the biggest problem will be getting money from the state legislature to build the rail system.
State Sen. Michael Wagner (D-Glen Burnie), one of the leading supporters of the light rail system, said transportation planners have assured him the study is "very positive."
He and other officials said the rail line would not only reduce congestion on Rte. 2 in northern Anne Arundel, but would carry spectators to the new Baltimore sports stadiums and spur economic growth around BWI Airport.
About 30,000 people are employed at the airport and the hundreds of high-technology and warehouse businesses clustered around it.
State and county planners said they expect that number will rise to 90,000 by the year 2000.