Md. transportation chief: Lawsuits mean delay in Purple Line opening

WASHINGTON — The opening of the Purple Line will be delayed, at least somewhat, by the lawsuits that slowed construction, Maryland’s transportation secretary recently acknowledged.

“We don’t have a new revenue service date yet, but we know we’re going to have to move it. I’m hoping that it still remains sometime in 2022,” Pete Rahn told a Greater Washington Board of Trade forum Nov. 15.

Legal challenges from people who live near the light rail line in Montgomery County blocked construction for a time until a federal appeals court intervened this summer.

Now, Rahn said, construction is moving forward at full speed, with significantly more work expected in the spring.

The 16-mile, 21-stop line is being built and will be operated by a private group for the Maryland Transit Administration. Riders will be able to transfer to and from the Metro system at New Carrollton, College Park, Silver Spring and Bethesda.

“It makes sense, and I’m convinced it’s going to be a critical part of how we get people moving within the region as we look forward,” Rahn said.

“The situation we are at in the D.C. area is that congestion has become so bad that we have to have a solution palette that is all of the above: We have to have highways; we have to have transit; we have to take advantage of any mode that is out there that can improve the movement of people,” Rahn said.

In Prince George’s County, some residents and businesses are concerned that all of the new development planned around Purple Line stations could price existing businesses out or eliminate affordable housing.

On Tuesday, local leaders are scheduled to sign the Purple Line Corridor Community Development Agreement, which aims to lay out ways to keep local businesses and jobs, ensure affordable housing and maintain diverse, sustainable communities.

The pledge promises annual reviews of the development goals.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, the county planning commission chairs and local advocates are among those scheduled to sign the agreement.

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