Full Speed Ahead for the Purple Line After Appeal Vindication
Purple Line NOW celebrates the vindication of the Purple Line’s purpose and its process by a unanimous opinion from the D.C. Federal Circuit Court. The decision by Judge Judith Rogers is a complete win for the Purple Line. The panel rejected the requirement for another related study to analyze the effects of Metro’s troubles and upheld Judge Leon’s rejection of a range of insubstantial environmental claims.
PLN President Ralph Bennett is ready to move forward, “The question of whether the Purple Line will be built has been answered. We are now focused on successful implementation and ensuring that the benefits are widespread. Towards that end, we are hosting a forum at Montgomery College on January 18th with Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and an expert panel to update the public on the project's status.” The day is somewhat bittersweet, however, because it was so long in coming, “The project was operating under constrained conditions for a year, delaying the start, forcing costly inefficiencies, and delaying the launch of important tools such as the Community Advisory Teams. We all have paid too high a price for this frivolous lawsuit."
Vice President Greg Sanders describes the decision as good news, not just for the Purple Line, but for mass transit nationwide. "As the plaintiffs have shown with their second lawsuit, well-resourced opponents can try to keep broadly beneficial projects they object to tied up in court, but this ruling repeatedly upheld the standard that the courts owe deference to the federal and state experts." Specifically, on the issue of Metro ridership, the court was clear that these experts did their homework: "FTA and Maryland sufficiently examined the impact of Metrorail issues on the Purple Line’s three purposes, and reasonably concluded that Metrorail problems would not change the project’s preferred alternative, grounding that conclusion on an assessment of five ridership scenarios. These circumstances warrant deference by the court to FTA’s (and Maryland’s) reasonable, fact-intensive, technical determination that preparation of a [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] was not required."
PLN Treasurer Tina Slater concluded by expressing her gratitude for the elected officials who stood by the project and the lawyers and other experts who worked so hard to see it through this challenging period. "The Purple Line is a bipartisan success story in our polarized times. Governor Hogan kept his commitments and Attorney General Frosh played a pivotal role in this victory. County Executives Leggett and Baker, as well as both Counties' Councils and public servants were steadfast and testified to the project's benefits. Other allies, from business and labor, environmentalists and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, as well as members of the public from all walks of life wrote letters, went to rallies, and did their part." Slater concluded, "This success was only possible thanks to a grand coalition of supporters. We intend to do our part and see the project through to completion."
Information about the organization's January 18 forum with Secretary Rahn can be found on the Purple Line NOW website. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and seats must be reserved in advance.