Governor Hogan announced plans today to move forward with the Purple Line light rail project in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, while at the same time increasing funds for roads and bridges by $1.35 billion. He also announced that the State was not going to move forward with the Red Line light rail project in Baltimore.
As reported by the Washington Post,
Hogan’s backing for the Purple Line marks a significant reversal for a staunch fiscal conservative who strongly opposed the project as too expensive when he campaigned for governor last year.
He said he changed his mind largely because his administration found ways to reduce the state’s share of the cost from close to $700 million to $168 million.
He also responded to pressure from Washington-area politicians and business leaders, who said the project was crucial to improving transit and encouraging economic development in the inner suburbs.
The Governor did put conditions on the project moving forward.
First, the federal government must come through as expected with a recommended $900 million in financing.
Second, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, which the Purple Line will connect, must contribute more to the project.
Hogan’s third condition for building the Purple Line was winning approval for the state’s proposed, cost-saving changes from whatever private company wins the contract to build the project.
Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn was charged with evaluating both the Purple and Red Line projects and making a recommendation on whether to proceed. As reported by the Baltimore Sun ,
Rahn said Thursday the “fatal flaw” of the Red Line project was the plan to rely on a $1 billion tunnel under downtown, Harbor East and Fells Point. He said the administration would try to provide transportation assistance to Baltimore in others ways, but he offered no specifics.
The Governor’s press release provides more detail on the funding for roads and bridges and how it will be used.
Following through on his campaign pledge to provide funding for highways and state-owned local roads, Governor Larry Hogan today announced $1.97 billion for highways and bridges from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore. The priority projects, which will get underway by 2018, include $1.35 billion in new projects going to construction and $625 million in preserved projects. The $1.35 billion in new projects includes $845 million for major projects and $500 million to fix bridges and improve roads.
The $1.97 billion in 84 projects includes:
- $790 million for 10 projects that support economic development
- $250 million to repave 1,959 lane miles of highway
- $355 million to improve safety in 25 locations
- $25 million to fix drainage and keep roads from flooding in 10 locations
- $355 million for 13 projects to improve traffic flow
- $195 million to repair 26 bridges
MACo anticipates some of this new funding would be used for a phased-in restoration of local highway user revenues. MACo has advocated for the restoration of funding for local roads and bridges over the past several years, including those located in Baltimore City, whose revenue loss was greater than any other jurisdiction.