FTA: Judge Should Reconsider Purple Line Delay

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) filed a motion for U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon to reconsider his ruling that the Purple Line Record of Decision be set aside until the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recalculates ridership projections. On August 3, Leon ordered MTA to update its projections to account for WMATA’s “deterioration and declining ridership,” and set aside the Record of Decision until it completed such analysis. The Record of Decision is FTA’s stamp of approval on MTA’s Purple Line environmental analysis.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Justice Department, representing FTA, argued in its motion that Leon:

erred by requiring FTA to conduct a new impact study rather than letting the agency decide whether one was necessary, and by not allowing the record of decision to stand while a review is underway.

“The Court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of FTA in making the ultimate finding that the information on WMATA Metrorail’s issues present a significant environmental impact,” lawyers for the FTA wrote.

In response to the initial ruling, MTA cancelled a public signing ceremony of the Full Funding Grant Agreement, through which the U.S. grants Maryland $900 million toward the project.

A new ridership study could delay the project by six months and jeopardize a $5.6 billion public-private partnership that relies heavily on private construction financing.

Read Conduit Street’s previous Purple Line coverage.