County Leaders: Move Purple Line Along, Already

About 100 activists and elected officials from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties gathered in Silver Spring on May 2 to call on U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon to move the Purple Line forward.

Last August, Leon postponed the project and ordered updated projections to account for WMATA’s “deterioration and declining ridership.” The delay has stopped the project in its tracks, preventing the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and MTA from executing the project’s Full Funding Grant Agreement, through which the U.S. grants Maryland $900 million toward the project. FTA filed almost immediately for the judge to reconsider his ruling, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh requested a ruling by last Friday.

President Trump’s proposed “Budget Blueprint,” which includes his budgetary proposals for discretionary spending for fiscal 2018, cuts all funding for new transit lines like the Purple Line, which do not have enacted Full Funding Grant Agreements – placing the project at further risk. Fortunately, Congress appears more supportive of the project. The Washington Post quotes Rep. Jamie B. Raskin: “Congress has made itself clear — we want the Purple Line built.”

From The Washington Post

“Let me just say very politely, ‘Judge, your delay in making a decision is costing taxpayers money — every day, every hour,’ ” Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said at a rally in downtown Silver Spring.

Prince George’s County Council member Dannielle Glaros (D-Riverdale Park) said her community is counting on the line to connect residents to jobs and rejuvenate aging inner-Beltway suburbs.

“Every day we wait, we cost taxpayers money, and we lose economic development opportunities along the line,” Glaros said.

Criticism about the amount of time Leon has taken to reconsider his decision was more muted Tuesday than Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent public allegation that the judge is biased. Hogan (R) told reporters, inaccurately, that Leon lives at a country club in the path of the 16-mile Purple Line alignment and that the judge’s wife was involved in an opposition group.
Maryland officials have said the state has spent more than $380 million on planning and designing the project and would lose hundreds of millions more in contract penalties if it is canceled.
Purple Line supporters faced questions from the media about whether it was proper to demand that a federal judge issue a ruling on their timetable, rather than his own.

“It’s not wrong for us to ask the judge for a timely decision,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). “All the information is in there. This is too important.”