Without Gas Tax, Will Purple Line Proceed?

With O'Malley's proposed gas tax shot down by the Maryland General Assembly, the Purple Line will face tough funding challenges, experts told The Washington Post.


Gov. Martin O'Malley's "long-promised" 16-mile Purple Line, in Maryland's Washington, D.C. suburbs, and the 14-mile Red Line in Baltimore face tough funding challenges, The Washington Post recently reported.

Without the tax revenue dedicated to transportation that a gas tax increase could have brought in, the state might even have to choose between the two light-rail lines, transportation experts told The Post.

The gas tax has not been increased in Maryland since 1992.

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Construction on both lines has been slated to begin in 2015, with the Purple Line ready for use in 2020 and the Red Line ready in 2021. But without enough funding, construction on one of the lines might have to wait another five years, The Post reported.

"Time to find additional money is short. State and local officials say they have 12 to 18 months to prove to the Federal Transit Administration that Maryland can pay half the cost of constructing one or both lines. Otherwise, the state could fall behind in the rigorous competition for federal transit money," The Post added.

To compete for federal funds, the state must commit to at least half of its share by 2013, according to The Post.

Other funding options—like public-private partnerships or special taxes on developers and landowners whose property values would increase due to proximity to the light-rail stations—are under consideration, Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley—who will step down from her post on July 1—told The Post. 

The Post noted that "the project also faces significant opposition—and potential legal delays—from the [Town] of Chevy Chase, a country club and trail advocates who say a rail line would destroy the wooded Georgetown Branch walking and biking path between Bethesda and Silver Spring."

Do you think the Purple Line can be funded without an increase in the gas tax? Tell us in the comments.


Bill C. May 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM
We have the ability to fund both projects.
Bethesda Guy10 May 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I have been a supporter of the purple line but now that the County Council and Executive have put the almighty dollar above pedestrian safety by pushing the Capital Crescent trail out of the tunnel under Wisconsin Ave. and forcing the hundreds if not thousands of pedestrians and cyclists to cross Wisconsin Ave. on grade and dodge the street traffic, an area already known by the county by their own statistics to be a dangerous pedestrian crossing, I say let Baltimore have their Red line. "I like Ike" a bit less these days.
Sam Weaver May 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The gas tax of 23.5 cents per gallon has been in place for 20 years when gas was a dollar per gallon. Now its at $4 per gallon and its still 23.5 cents. The Transportation Trust Fund is going broke. Every other contributor to the TTF has paid and kept up with inflation....but not gas. I think its called the purple line because this baby has the cord wrapped around its neck! The only way its going to survive is with a gas tax.
Brian June 01, 2012 at 01:19 PM
The transportation trust fund is going broke because OweMalley keeps raiding it for General Fund uses.
Sara O'Neil-Manion June 04, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The Purple Rail line is a taxpayer boondoggle, with all the current and prior estimates of cost exponentially understated, in an attempt to appear more palatable to taxpayers. It is also an environmental nightmare, as the construction impact has not been addressed accurately at all. If the Purple line was recast as either a bus rapid transit or a street rail line down Route 193 to Connecticut Avenue and also up Viers Mill Road, it would be exponentially less costly without the new bridges that would be necessary to cross rivers, stream and arterial roadways, or the eminent domain purchases necessary to construct the current routing of the Purple line, an item which is conveniently not mentioned in any of the proponent commentary on the current path of the Purple Line. The Purple Line is needed, just not where it is currently planned.


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