A federal judge ruled Maryland's planned Purple Line light-rail project needs further study, a delay that jeopardizes federal funding.
Metro's falling ridership could have a negative impact on the Purple Line, the judge said in his decision.
Gov. Larry Hogan said federal transit officials' studies already addressed the judge's concerns.
"The fact that it took a federal judge this long to reach the conclusion that more study is needed is completely baffling and, if allowed to stand, will cause irreparable harm to this vital project and cost the state hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars," Hogan said.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth says Metro ridership would be a limited percentage of Purple Line ridership.
"The Purple Line is a badly-needed east-west transit connection for access to jobs and revitalization, and significant ridership will be driven by that demand, as well as the revitalization inside the Beltway that the project will spur," CSG said in a statement. "We are also certain Metro ridership will recover as the system completes repairs and reforms."
Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding could be lost because of a delay, which could threaten the entire project.
"The governor and the secretary of transportation have pointed out that there are not unlimited funds to fund the activity during the judge's delay of the project," said Ralph Bennett, president of Purple Line Now, a group that has been trying to get the light rail built for decades. "So there's going to be a point where we run out of money and say we just can't do it."
He says the judge might be playing favorites.
“Yes, I think he’s complicit with the plaintiffs,” Bennett said. “I think he doesn’t want to happen and he’s doing what he can to prevent it from happening. But we’re hopeful that the attorney general of Maryland will appeal this decision.”
The proposed line would run between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, connecting with existing Metro stations in Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton.
Homeowner groups affected by the construction have fought back.
Some businesses have already been told to relocate to make way for the project.