Purple Line supporters disappointed but ready to push on after ruling

WASHINGTON — Purple Line supporters are vowing to push forward with construction of the light rail line after District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling Monday put another roadblock in the way.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called Monday’s order, which directs an additional review of the impact declining Metro ridership could have on the Purple Line’s success, “incredibly disappointing, but not entirely surprising.”

“The fact that it took a federal judge this long to reach the conclusion that more study is needed is completely baffling and, if allowed to stand, will cause irreparable harm to this vital project and cost the state hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars,” Hogan said in a statement.

The Federal Transit Administration found in the fall that even if there were no transfers to or from the Metro system, the separate Maryland Transit Administration Purple Line project would be worth building.

Opponents of the line submitted testimony from some expert witnesses that disputed that.

An advocacy group, Purple Line NOW, called the judge’s ruling “slapdash” and “tardy.”

“While he acknowledges that the federal findings found that even if there were no transfers to Metrorail, the Purple Line would still be justified, he goes on to ask why they didn’t look at the comparative likelihood of five different [Metro ridership] scenarios. It doesn’t matter, the Purple Line is justified under any of the five scenarios,” the group’s vice president, Greg Sanders, said in an interview.

“It being built is still very much on the table,” Sanders added, saying the fundamentals of the project’s east-west connections and the additional development it can bring are overwhelmingly strong.

Supporters will not give up, Sanders said — and Hogan agreed.

“This is not a political issue. It’s an important transportation and transit priority for Maryland and the region that has strong bipartisan support. The state will continue to pursue any and all legal action to ensure that the Purple Line will move forward,” the governor promised.

Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County executive, said he’s glad to see that commitment from the state.

“The Purple Line is intended to give county residents another transportation option, while creating economic opportunity as well as protecting the environment,” Baker said in a statement.



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