Montgomery County Council Nudges Along Revived Purple Line Project

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County Council members approved a measure to allow the state to build and operate the Purple Line light rail project on county land.

Tuesday’s move allows the Maryland Transit Administration to build on a 3-mile stretch that runs between Silver Spring and downtown Bethesda along the Georgetown Branch Trail. The council took the action on the last legislative day before a seven-week recess.

Also on Tuesday: Members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging the agency to sign on to a funding agreement with the Maryland Transit Administration. The letter calls the 16-mile, 21-stop Purple Line a “shovel-ready project” and declared that a federal Court of Appeals decision July 19 cleared the way for construction.

The letter — signed by Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer, John Delaney, John Sarbanes and Jamie Raskin — said the Purple Line would spur economic growth in the area, providing as many as 6,000 construction jobs and 27,000 permanent jobs.

The light rail project ran into a major roadblock when a lower-court judge ruled that Purple Line advocates failed to factor in the possible effects of lagging Metro ridership on the light rail project.

That decision came days before the agreement for $900 million in federal funding was to be signed; as a result, that ruling had put the funding and construction on hold — until the appeals court ruling.

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