Federal Funding Recommended for Purple Line

The proposed Purple Line light-rail project, which will connect New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and Bethesda in Montgomery County, received a boost this week.  As reported by the Washington Post:

A proposed light-rail Purple Line project has been recommended for $100 million in federal money in the next fiscal year as part of President Obama’s budget released Tuesday, marking a critical financial milestone for what would be the Maryland suburbs’ first direct rail link.

Just as significant to the project’s future is that the Purple Line was included on a list of seven large transit projects nationwide that the Federal Transit Administration recommends for a “full funding grant agreement,” a ­longer-term commitment by the federal government to help pay for the project’s construction.

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is seeking $900 million in federal grants to help fund the $2.2 billion project. The recommendation for longer-term funding has come at a critical time as the MTA recently started pursuing private investors to assist with funding other components of the project.

The private investors are being pursued as four teams of private companies bid on a public-private partnership to design, build, operate, maintain and help finance a Purple Line. Such a contract would span 30 to 35 years. With an estimated value of more than $6 billion, it would be one of the largest government contracts ever in Maryland as well as one of the broadest public-private partnerships for a U.S. transit project.