Could Metro Problems Affect Purple Line Light Rail Project?

BETHESDA, Md. — Metro’s safety issues and declining ridership could keep the planned light-rail Purple Line from being built.

A federal judge said in oral arguments Wednesday that it would be wise for the Maryland Transit Administration to analyze the impact Metro’s issues would have on the Purple Line’s expected ridership.

The idea was floated amid a lawsuit aimed at stopping the light rail line’s construction. Environmental concern was the primary motive for stopping its construction, but Metro’s recent issues have given the lawsuit renewed merit.

The judge said Metro’s issues would likely have some correlation with the Purple Line’s ridership, even suggesting a hypothetical judicial order that would force the state to spend six months to look into whether Metro’s issues could have a “corrosive” effect on Purple Line projections, The Washington Post reports.

An attorney for the MTA said delaying the project by six months could hurt the public-private partnership established to fund the project.

A Federal Transit Administration attorney called the concerns about Metro’s problems affecting Purple Line ridership “way too speculative,” noting that only a quarter of the line’s riders are projected to also use Metro.

Both sides will issue briefs before the judge makes an official decision.

The 16.2-mile line from New Carrollton to Bethesda would connect job centers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. It is expected to break ground later this year and start service in 2022.

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