WASHINGTON — It’s not over yet for the Purple Line.
Leaders from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties who met with Gov. Larry Hogan at the State House in Annapolis Thursday morning say they’re encouraged by his reception to their latest pitch for the $2.4 billion project.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker told reporters that the governor said he has not made up his mind on the 16-mile-long light rail project that would tie Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett called the meeting “productive” and said the emphasis was not on the cost of the project — something Gov. Hogan has said was “unacceptable” as recently as last week. Instead, Leggett said the emphasis was on the potential economic growth the Purple Line could bring.
Leggett said the governor listened intently to the arguments for the Purple Line, but didn’t indicate if what he was hearing had swayed him.
Baker says he understands that the Purple Line is competing with roads when it comes to infrastructure investments. Baker said his own constituents are concerned about the conditions of roads such as Route 210/Indian Head Highway.
Baker explained that he understands concerns about the conditions of roads and bridges.
“We had a bridge collapse in Beltsville, so we get that,” he said.
But Baker says the connectivity that the Purple Line offers in terms of tying business centers together, and spurring growth, make the expense worth it in the long run.
“When you weigh all the factors, the Purple Line makes sense,” Baker said.
It’s not clear whether Hogan walked out of the meeting convinced by what he heard. The meeting was closed to the media, Leggett and Baker talked to reporters outside the governor’s reception room. Later, as he left the State House, Hogan was asked how the meeting went. “It was great,” he called out over his shoulder.
Gov. Hogan is preparing for a 10-day trip to China. Leggett says the governor explained he’d make his decision after the trip, sometime in mid to late June. In the meantime, Leggett and Baker say the discussions on the Purple Line will continue with the governor’s staff.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.