Trump budget another roadblock for Purple Line project

WASHINGTON — The construction of the 16-mile Purple Line faces a new hurdle: the Trump administration’s proposed budget.

Under President Trump’s spending plan, federal money for transit projects like the Purple Line would be restricted to existing projects — ones that are already funded. The Purple Line isn’t.

The Trump Administration’s fiscal 2018 budget further states that transit plans that don’t currently have a signed federal funding agreement “would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.” That could endanger the planned light rail route, since state and local officials say they could not carry the cost alone.

The construction of the Purple Line — with a projected price tag of $2 billion — is dependent on nearly $1 billion in federal money. That money was just days away from being granted in August when a federal judge’s ruling on the environmental impact of the project put the signing of a federal funding agreement on hold.

Since then, Judge Richard Leon reaffirmed his ruling that said the project’s funding should not move ahead until federal officials finish a study to determine what impact falling Metro ridership numbers could have on the light rail project.

The Purple Line would run from New Carrollton to Bethesda and has been projected to carry nearly 70,000 riders each weekday by the year 2040.

In a statement, Amelia Chasse, with the governor’s office, spoke of the Trump spending plan in general, “If any of these budget proposals ever become law, we will take a serious look at how to address them during our budget process next year. The governor will continue fighting and advocating on behalf of all Marylanders.”

Erin Henson, of the Maryland Department of Transportation, said in a later statement, “We won’t know if there is an impact to the Purple Line until a final budget is passed by Congress and the appropriations process is complete.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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