Purple Line Pulls Through Legal Hurdle

The saga over the legality of the Purple Line has come to a screeching halt.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. on Tuesday unanimously dismissed the lawsuit that placed the project in limbo.

Reports WAMU 88.5:

The lawsuit from a group opposing the Purple Line had argued that a required environmental assessment for the project would have to be redone to take into consideration declining Metro ridership. The group, the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, contended that as fewer people ride Metro, fewer will end up riding the Purple Line, thus minimizing the purported benefits the $2 billion, 21-stop light-rail line would offer.

But in a 24-page ruling, the judges disagreed.

“Even if Metrorail ceased to exist — an extreme and highly unlikely scenario given its centrality to transportation in the greater Washington metropolitan area — light rail would still provide faster (and higher-capacity) east–west connections between major Maryland activity centers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties than would other alternatives, like bus rapid transit,” they wrote.

The projects legal struggle began in 2014, when Purple Line opponents filed their claims. In August 2016, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered preparation of an entirely new environmental assessment for the project, delaying its federal funding and construction. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed Judge Leon’s order pending a final ruling on the issue. The project broke ground last August, despite the pending litigation. The project opponents’ only option for the claims at issue is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.