COLLEGE PARK, MD — Suburban Maryland business executives are being asked to support construction of the proposed $2 billion Purple Line light rail that would connect New Carrollton to Bethesda.
“The Purple Line is gold to the state of Maryland. The Purple Line will enhance your ability to achieve the job growth that (is) necessary for the state of Maryland,” Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett told a roomful of business executives gathered together at the University of Maryland.
Because Maryland’s newly-elected governor, Larry Hogan, has expressed reservations about the costly project, the appeal for support was also directed to him.
“It’s a very, very worthwhile project. I think it’s consistent with the governor’s vision for the state of Maryland,” Leggett says.
The Washington Board of Trade organized the workshop to familiarize the business community with Purple Line plans.
“We need this, it’s not up for a debate,” declares Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. “It is not simply about moving people back and forth, it is about growing the commercial tax base for the entire state,” he says.
The message seemed to resonate with Willy Young, who operates a brand management firm in Bowie, Maryland. “It’s always helpful when you can bring traffic into a community without them having to drive and to bring folks together. I think it helps the whole region,” Young says.
President Obama’s newly submitted budget to Congress includes $900 million for the Purple Line and local elected leaders feel certain that Congress will approve the funding.
Leggett and Baker say they’re unsure how much of the remaining estimated $1.1 billion needed to build the Purple Line would be privately raised rather than publicly financed, but no one seems to disagree that taxpayers would fund the lion’s share of building the 21-station rail system and subsidize its operations.