O'Malley to Announce Purple Line Decision
And if it's anything other than a call to proceed with a light rail line along the route approved by Montgomery and Prince George's counties, I'll be stunned.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to make the long-awaited announcement about the Purple Line's future at 8:30 a.m. in New Carrollton, the proposed eastern terminus for the line. He then will go to Baltimore to make a similar announcement about the future of the city's proposed Red Line transit route.
The Purple Line, which has been studied for years and reviewed by various government entities, isn't a simple project or a no-brainer of a decision. Whether the governor provides the crucial endorsement for either a light rail system or a bus rapid transit, he will be propelling the region toward a new way of getting around.
We haven't seen anything quite like this in our region, and controversies continue over every variation on the proposal. If the governor does what I expect and endorses the light rail version that uses the Capital Crescent Trail and downtown Silver Spring for part of its route, it's entirely possible we'll see lawsuits attempting to block it.
That's not even the hard part. The Federal Transit Administration will provide that as it puts the Purple Line through the financing hoops that every big transit project in the nation must jump through. There's too little money available in the federal New Starts program and the cost-effectiveness standards are too narrow.
At best, it will be the middle of the next decade before anyone boards the Purple Line. The recession -- at least not the current one -- won't be an issue in organizing the financing. Nor is the federal stimulus program a factor. (This is not "shovel ready" by any stretch of the imagination.) A more relevant issue is how to advance both the Red Line and the Purple Line at the same time.
August 3, 2009; 2:28 PM ET
Categories: Transportation Politics , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Purple Line
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