WASHINGTON — Gov. Larry Hogan is urging Maryland’s attorney general to take the next step in pushing a federal judge to issue a decision in the court case that has stalled the Purple Line.
In a letter released to reporters by the Hogan administration late Thursday, the governor asked Attorney General Brian Frosh “to immediately proceed” with a new legal strategy: petitioning a higher court (the U.S. Court of Appeals, in this case) for a writ of mandamus.
The move is designed to compel U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to make a ruling in the Purple Line case.
The writ would not indicate which way Leon should rule. In strict legal terms, it simply orders the lower court to do its duty: issue a ruling in the Purple Line suit.
The 16-mile light rail project has been stalled ever since Leon questioned the viability of the Purple Line in August. Since then, the Maryland attorney general had urged the judge to rule by the end of April.
In his letter to Frosh, Hogan references Frosh’s earlier move and notes that “the judge missed your deadline.”
The delays to the project have long worried supporters, who note that $900 million in federal money is at stake.
“The state of Maryland stands to lose several million dollars because of this delay,” Hogan stated in the letter to Frosh. State officials have previously estimated that losses stemming from construction delays could total up to $13 million a month.
In August, Leon vacated federal approval for the Purple Line, which would carry passengers from Bethesda to New Carrollton, citing concerns that falling Metro ridership could affect the viability of the Purple Line.
Since then, Leon’s been accused of a conflict of interest — a charge that came from the governor himself. Leon lives in Bethesda, miles from the Purple Line route. His wife has been active in a neighborhood civic group but never took a position on the project, though a larger civic organization did oppose the Purple Line.