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Report: Cost of Purple Line Jumps Again

Lawmakers will mull ways to fund state transportation projects at a Wednesday summit, where the light rail project will be identified as "at risk."

The cost of building the Purple Line has jumped from $1.93 billion to $2.15 billion, marking the second price increase in the last two years, the Washington Examiner reports.

The 16-mile light rail that will connect Bethesda and New Carrollton, recently hailed as one of he best transportation projects in the country, is planned to open in 2020. But Maryland has none of the $4.7 billion it needs to build the Purple Line and Baltimore’s Red Line, according to the report.

If the Maryland Transit Administration is approved for the federal funds it’s hoping to secure from the Federal Transit Administration for the light rail projects, the money would only cover 40.6 percent of the Red Line and 46.8 percent of the Purple Line, according to the Examiner report.

But the state will need to point to sources for its portion of the funds to be eligible for the federal dollars, meaning lawmakers will need to identify new sources of revenue.

“Absent a revenue increase or federal aid, it is unlikely that the transit lines can be constructed,” a county statement read.

Lawmakers and community leaders are meeting today in Annapolis at a “transportation summit”—organized by Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist 1), Councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) and Del. Brian Feldman (D-Dist. 15)—to discuss ways to fund state transportation projects.

The Red Line and Purple Line projects will be identified among projects “at risk,” but will not be the focus of the summit, according to the statement.

“There are few things more important to our county’s economic health than maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure, particularly new transit options that can help take cars off the road and connect employment hubs with our work force,” Berliner said in a statement. “Elected officials, community leaders, stakeholder groups and transportation advocates have spoken out regarding the need for dedicated transportation funding. The goal of this summit is to bring those voices together to discuss viable options for moving our County and our State forward.”

AntonFisher December 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Use the money that was allotted for the platform above the bus-bays in Wheaton. Didn't the county council championed by Leventhal scrap that project in favor of the escalator in Bethesda that supposedly the purple line's being depended on? After all, there will never be a purple line and we have already lost the multi million dollars private investment by B.F. Saul that was supposed to start after the platform is built above the Wheaton bus bays. Great Job Leventahl, Navarro and the rest of the Council. I am not sure who is really in their right mind votes for you!!!!
jag December 12, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Not wasting 50mil on a corporate handout was important and 50 mil is a lot of money, but not when talking about a 2bil project. I'm sure you know that, though, and just like whining about things that have nothing to do with anything.
Wayne Phyillaier December 12, 2012 at 08:43 PM
@AntonFisher: "Didn't the county council championed by Leventhal scrap that project in favor of the escalator in Bethesda that supposedly the purple line's being depended on?" No, the Wheaton platform project and the Bethesda South Metro elevator project were never in direct competition with each other in the county budget deliberations - they were always separate issues in separate capital budget categories and money for the Wheaton platform was not diverted to Bethesda. The subject of this article is the state transportation trust fund - entirely separate from the county budget. The state transportation funding problem is not connected in any way to Wheaton's redevelopment funding issues.
Stop re-electing these people December 12, 2012 at 09:27 PM
The County Council has no say in the building of the Purple line. They all like to think they do but in the end, they don't.
Woodside Park Bob December 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Given the likelihood that adequate federal funding for these projects won't be available even if we don't go over the "fiscal cliff," it seems prudent for the state to stop spending money on planning for them and instead devote what funds are available to making transportation improvements that can actually be made with the limited money we have.
Danila Sheveiko December 13, 2012 at 05:08 PM
We poured a lot of time, money, and precious green space into construction of the ICC - one of the more expensive and underutilized toll roads in the nation. All this effort should have instead been spent on burying the Purple Line - more bang for the buck and no resident protests.
Commentous December 13, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Wayne--Everything in a budget is in competition, even if not in direct competition. We all know that the Purple Line is a point of argument, just as the ICC was. It's just certain Council members love the idea of a Purple Line. jag--your argument might be more credible if these concerns were ever raised by anyone on the ouncil before they came up with their own plan for Wheaton that took into account nothing that the WUDAC and WRAC recommended. As someone who lives in Wheaton, one thing is almost certain: The Purple Line will do absolutely nothing to ease traffic in Wheaton or make commuting easier for the vast majority of people who live here.
Wayne Phyillaier December 13, 2012 at 06:54 PM
@Commentous: Your point is taken, everything is in competition with everything else at some level. My point is that at no point was the Wheaton project singled out to be cut so the money could be diverted to the Bethesda project.

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