Purple Line On Hold; Frustration, Relief Surround Transit Project

The beginning of the Maryland Transit Administration’s Purple Line project was supposed to get underway with an infusion of money, but a judge’s ruling has delayed the start, creating both frustration and relief.

Federal officials were all set to hand over nearly $1 billion to get the project going. However, Judge Richard Leon issued a ruling, delaying the start of the Purple Line.

Transit advocates are upset at homeowner groups who have pushed a lawsuit through delaying the Purple Line. They are also taking issue with Leon, saying he is too close to the project, because he lives in Chevy Chase, not far from where the Purple Line will run.

"At the very least, there's the strong appearance of conflict of interest," said Ben Ross with the Action Committee for Transit. "To have a small group of very wealthy and well-connected citizens upending this is really unfair and unjust."

“That's absurd. People have to live someplace around Washington,” said John Fitzgerald, an attorney and plaintiff in the lawsuit against the transit line. “It's absurd that they claim he can't be an impartial judge just because he happens to live somewhere near where the effects are going to be felt."

A request for comment from the judge hasn't been returned. Regardless, the Purple Line is not moving forward until further study can be done.

The transit line is planning to run from Bethesda, in Montgomery County, to New Carrollton, in Prince George’s county. Along the way, it will connect with existing Metro stations in Silver Spring, College Park and at New Carrollton.

Homeowner groups impacted by the construction are fighting back

The line was supposed to run along the Capital Crescent Trail. Ajay Bhatt, with the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, has been fighting to protect the trail, which runs just beyond his back yard in Chevy Chase. He said more study is exactly what this project needs.

“This gives us an opportunity to step back, take a pause and look at what we need to do as a region for transportation for economic development” Bhatt said. “A lot of details about the purple line are not really known."

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