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.