Appeals Court Breathes Life Back Into Purple Line

WASHINGTON — The Purple Line is closer to getting back on track, after a significant ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel in the D.C. Circuit blocked a lower court’s ruling that effectively kept the Purple Line from moving forward. The emergency stay will remain in place until the appeals court can hear a full appeal.

“The State of Maryland has satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending appeal,” the judges wrote in the ruling.

The stay means that U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s decisions over the last year that tossed out federal findings that the Maryland light rail line is worth building are no longer in effect.

The appeals court declined to dismiss the lawsuit by neighbors opposed to the rail line though.

A decision on a motion to expedite arguments in the case was put off until after Leon rules on a separate motion by the opponents of the rail line to expand on his most recent ruling that the environmental review of the Purple Line was not thorough enough because it did not include enough emphasis on declining Metro ridership.

The Purple Line is completely separate from the Metro system, but will have stops at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton where riders can transfer from one to the other.

“We are confident the district court will act promptly in this matter,” the appeals court wrote.

The stay could allow Maryland to move forward with the project. After Leon’s decision had blocked $900 million in federal funding for the rail line, the state had said the line may need to be canceled.

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