Thursday, March 20, 2014

FTA OKs Maryland Purple Line LRT

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Maryland’s contentious Purple Line light rail transit project got a supportive boost Thursday, March 20, 2014, with the Federal Transit Administration issuing its Record of Decision essentially approving the 16-mile line.

FTA reportedly will publish its Record of Decision in the Federal Register by March 28. 

The decision, which went public Thursday morning, was hailed by Maryland Transit Administration officials meeting with the Montgomery County Planning Board on the project. The Purple Line will link Bethesda, Md., in Montgomery County, with New Carrollton, Md. In Prince George’s County, also connecting at four points with Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail system, and with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Project supporters on Purple Line Now!, a website, said in a statement, “With the ROD in hand, the State can now request the initiation of final design, immediately begin acquiring right-of-way (i.e., private property) where needed, and most importantly, begin discussions with the FTA to secure a full funding grant  agreement (FFGA) to build the Purple Line.

The site adds, “The $100 million in the President's [fiscal year 2015] budget is still subject to Congressional approval as are any future appropriations to the project [though] Congress has traditionally respected the Federal Transit Administration's recommendations.” Estimated cost of the Purple Line stands at $2.37 billion. Maryland currently has set aside about $900 million for the Purple Line, and seeks a private partner as part of a public-private partnership effort to build the line.

Strong opposition to the Purple Line remains in Chevy Chase, Md., though a country club located there reached an accord last summe settling a dispute over LRT right-of-way.