Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maryland pledges (limited) Purple Line funds

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The long-running political struggle over Maryland's Purple Line light rail transit proposal became more complex as state officials pledged $280 million to the project, but said private funding would likely be required as well.

Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged $280 million from the state's gas tax hike for the project last week, but Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown followed by saying the Purple Line likely would require some form of private-public partnership. Previous planning had envisioned federal funding providing roughly 50% of funding, with the state and possibly local sources matching that amount.

The $2.15 billion, 16-mile Purple Line would span the Maryland's Washington, D.C. suburbs in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, running from New Carrolton to Bethesda and intersecting with Washington's Metrorail system in four places, in essence forming a circumferential route for Metrorail users as well as intrasuburban rail options.

Maryland Transit Administration officials recently offered a target completion date of 2020 for the Purple Line, five years later than some earlier projections.

The state gas tax hike will provide $1.2 billion in additional funds, with roughly $650 million dedicated to transit purposes, including plans to add MARC weekend service on the Penn Line, part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.