Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fed spending bill aids Maryland rail projects

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Maryland state officials, state media outlets, and rail advocates are voicing cautious enthusiasm over funds identified in the fiscal year 2015 federal spending bill, still to be passed, for both Baltimore's Red Line light rail transit project and the bicounty Purple Line LRT route spanning across northeast Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Aided by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), outgoing chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate bill identifies $100 million in initial federal funds for the $2.5 billion, 16-mile Purple Line, as well as another $100 million for the $2.9 billion, 14-mile Red Line, linking East Baltimore with Woodlawn, Md.

Fiscal Year 2015 began Oct. 1, 2014. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill, H.R. 83, late Thursday evening, Dec. 11, 2014.

Speculation is growing as to whether such funding, if passed by Congress as currently expected, might overcome perceived reluctance of incoming Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to aid either project.

The Red Line is considered relatively safe, but advocates of the long-debated Purple Line are fearful that Gov.-elect Hogan will attempt to scuttle the project, sometimes citing the reversal of fortune for the Arlington, Va., streetcar proposal on the other side of Washington, D.C., terminated last month.

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