It’s huge news for the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. The Purple Line is a light rail connector filling in the spokes of the heavy-rail Metro system and connecting two major dense suburban centers. The project was suddenly in doubt when Larry Hogan was elected governor last November, a surprise win for a conservative in an overwhelmingly liberal state. Hogan had campaigned against the wasteful spending of the project and has made more money for automobile infrastructure a priority.
But Hogan’s transportation secretary came out in favor of the project, and the federal transit agency had already pledged support. The governor is still flashing his conservative bona fides by requiring cost cutting on the project and more county contributions. He also wants the private contractors who build it to step up with financial support. Overall, those positions could be very helpful for the economics of the project.
Here’s more detail:
The line would still have 21 stations and run from Bethesda in Montgomery to New Carrollton in Prince George’s. It would pass through Silver Spring and the University of Maryland’s College Park campus. The Purple Line will connect to Amtrak and MARC commuter rail stations and will be the first rail line to directly connect spokes of a Metrorail system designed decades ago to carry commuters between the suburbs and downtown Washington.
Hogan also was influenced by Washington-area politicians and business leaders, who said the project was crucial to improving transit and encouraging growth inside the Beltway.
“The Purple Line is a long-term investment that will be an important economic driver for Maryland,” Hogan said. After expressing skepticism in the past about what he saw as overblown forecasts of how many jobs the project would create, he said construction alone would create 23,000 jobs in Maryland over the next six years.
And hey, I’m not claiming credit, but Tuesday night I give a presentation for Washington DC Purple Line advocates on LA’s Metro Rail history, and on Thursday the conservative new governor approves the line. You make the call.