Members of the Montgomery County Council are urging state transportation officials against delaying funding for the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway.
Lawmakers in Annapolis are struggling with ways to fund state transportation projects, including the 16-mile Purple Line light rail that would connect Bethesda with New Carrollton and the upcounty bus rapid transit route. Maryland Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller has proposed a 3 percent gas tax that would raise about $300 million for transportation projects, Patch reported.
But without a funding increase, a state transportation funding plan calls for re-allocating the money earmarked for the two projects and Baltimore’s Red Line within the Maryland Transit Administration’s budget in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
“Without a revenue increase in the 2013 legislative session, the project will be put on hold and FY14 funding will be reallocated within MTA's budget,” reads project forms for the CCT, Red Line and Purple Line in MDOT’s FY2013-2018 Consolidated Transportation Program.
County officials took a strong stance against delaying funds for the projects in a letter sent Wednesday to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“If the Department plans to follow through on this position, then the $41.6 million already programmed in FY14 for design of the Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and $17.2 already programmed for preliminary engineering of the Corridor Cities Transitway in upper Montgomery County would disappear entirely, and any progress on these two lines will stop dead in their tracks,” read a letter sent by County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist 1) of Bethesda and County Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring to MDOT. “After more than a decade of work on these two projects, this is unacceptable.”
MDOT spokeswoman Erin Henson said the state plans to fund the Purple Line through the preliminary engineering phase, expected to wrap up in August, and through the “record of decision” phase of a federal environmental impact statement.
“It’s similar to our highway projects—if we finish one stage and we don’t have the money to move forward, you don’t want to have [the funds] sitting there, you want it on a project that can move forward," Henson said.
The exact amount that may be re-allocated wouldn’t be known until the completion of the preliminary engineering phase, Henson said.