O'Malley: Maryland to Invest $400 Million in Purple Line

Light-rail line to connect Montgomery, Prince George's counties

Maryland will invest $400 million in a light-rail line connecting Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Monday. It's part of an almost $650 million transportation package for Montgomery County.

The state wants a private firm to build and operate the proposed Purple Line, according to News4 transportation reporter Adam Tuss.

The Purple Line is a planned 16-mile light-rail line with 21 stations between Bethesda and New Carrollton. It's estimated to cost about $2.15 billion. It could be built by 2020.

The Purple Line would run separately from WMATA's Metro system but would connect riders with Metro's Red, Green and Orange lines.

There was plenty of pushback from the crowd in Bethesda. Much of the line would have to go along the Capital Crescent Trail, and while officials say they will protect the trail, some in the community don't buy it.

While it doesn't mean the project will be constructed, O'Malley's announcement outlined how the state plans to pay for the transit line. According to The Washington Post, this is the first time the state has proposed using a public-private partnership to finance such a project.

Virginia used a public-private partnership to build the Express Lanes on the Beltway and Interstate 95.

O'Malley also talked about a transportation investment package for Montgomery County. The two largest projects in the package include $85 million to increase the operating subsidy for the county's Ride On buses and $25 million to build a two-lane highway, which will divert traffic around Brookeville, Md.

Montgomery County has some of the worst traffic congestion in the state. O'Malley and lawmakers cited the choking traffic as an impediment to economic development and quality of life when they pushed for a gas tax increase in the last legislative session to help pay for projects like the Purple Line.

O'Malley and the General Assembly approved a gas tax increase this year to help pay for the projects.

The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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