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News & Events

October 7, 2011:
Purple Line receives federal approval to begin the Preliminary Engineering Phase !

On October 7, 2011 Governor Martin O'Malley announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given its approval for the Purple Line to move forward and enter the Preliminary Engineering (PE) phase. By granting permission to begin preliminary engineering, the Purple Line becomes one of a small of number of projects nationwide that are eligible for federal funding. Work on the project now moves to preparation of more detailed plans, schedules and cost estimates, as well as completion of environmental studies. The full announcement and reaction from key public officials is at The Governor's Blog.

Purple Line NOW President Ralph Bennett welcomes this major advance:

"Purple Line NOW is jubilant at last Friday's announcement of preliminary engineering approval for development of detailed plans for the Purple Line."

"This landmark is a palpable tribute to the legacy of Harry Sanders and all who have advocated for the line over the 25 years since the first ideas for this project emerged."

"Much credit is also due to Mike Madden and the Maryland Transit Administration team who have brought the project to this point - their skills, experience and hard work have indeed paid off with a high score from FTA for the project."

"We also wish to thank all those elected officials who have championed the Purple Line - they can take satisfaction from the fact that the project is valid, needed and has a sound conceptual base - as we all knew all along."

"And we thank you, our many supporters who have contributed, testified and stood up for the project over the years."

"Now, the hard work begins."

"Local concerns must be addressed, as MTA will be doing over the next year and beyond."

"Funding must be secured, both at the State and Federal levels. We will need you to work with us to make sure Maryland has the needed revenue to fund the Purple Line and to combat strong forces in Congress that would eliminate infrastructure projects like the Purple Line as excessive Federal spending."

"We are grateful to all of our many supporters and look forward to the detailed planning the Federal funding will now permit. And we look forward to working with you on the challenges we face as we get closer to boarding a real train."

Ralph Bennett


November, 2010:
2010 Election proves the strong support for the Purple Line!

pledge logo
Purple Line NOW! asked all candidates for elective office at the County Council level and above in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties to sign a Pledge to support the Purple Line. Many candidates stepped forward and signed the pledge. Those candidates won their races in overwhelming numbers.
Governor O'Malley made building the Purple Line a major issue in his campaign, and he won decisively. Forty of the forty six candidates for the state assembly who pledged to build the Purple Line won their races. Montgomery County and Prince George's County council races were swept by Purple Line supporters. The 2010 general election proved the Purple Line has very widespread and strong political support. See the list of those candidates who signed the pledge and won at Purple Line Pledge.


July 27, 2010:
Montgomery County Council approves the new Purple Line Master Plan.

The Montgomery County Council adopted the Purple Line Functional Master Plan by a unanimous vote on July 27 with only minor revisions. Among the revisions listed in the Council Press Release is naming the Purple Line station at 16th Street the "Sanders/Woodside Station" in honor of Purple Line NOW! co-founder Harry Sanders, as the "Father of the Purple Line".

This new Master Plan supports the Purple Line Locally Preferred Alternative as double track light rail from Bethesda to New Carrollton as selected by the governor last August, and replaces the 20 year old Master Plan that only called for the Georgetown Branch Trolley from Bethesda to Silver Spring. This new Master Plan makes County planning documents consistent with the Purple Line, a necessary step to support the application for federal funding. Prince George's County had already approved a new Transportation Master PLan that included its portion of the Purple Line on November 17, 2009.


March 22, 2010:
Purple Line NOW! reception and tribute to Harry Sanders

THANK YOU! to our sponsors and guests for supporting Purple Line NOW! at our March 22 special event to raise funds and to honor the memory of Harry Sanders.

The strong response we received at this event shows the widespread and deep support that exists for the Purple Line. Our Event Sponsors represented very diverse groups and individuals throughout Montgomery and Prince George's County. Many key elected officials and business, labor and civic leaders were at the event. The event featured a special tribute to Harry Sanders.


December 14, 2009:
Federal Funding approved for Purple Line Design

The Gazette reports that the U.S. Congress has just approved a transportation appropriation bill with funding for several Maryland transportation projects, and the bill is expected to be signed by President Obama. 3M$ is included in the appropriation for federal support of the Purple Line preliminary design. The State of Maryland is submitting the Purple Line light rail to the Federal Transit Adminstration (FTA) to start preliminary engineering. This funding demonstrates the commitment to move the project evaluation and approval forward at the federal level.


November 17, 2009:
Prince George's County Council approves the new Transportation Master Plan.

The Prince George's County Council formally adopted the new Countywide Transportation Master Plan during its November 17 meeting. This new Master Plan includes the Purple Line light rail as a key part of the overall transportation and land use plan for the County. The County Council has long been on the record as unanamously in support of the Purple Line light rail, but having the Purple Line included in the Master Plan is an essential requirement to qualify for federal funding.

Montgomery County is acting now to bring its Master Plan into conformity for Purple Line funding. A draft "Purple Line Functional Plan" is under review by the Mont. Co. Planning Board and a public hearing has been scheduled for December 10, 2009.


October 21, 2009:
Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board approves the Purple Line.

The Washington Area Council of Governments (COG) Transportation Planning Board unanimously voted October 21 to include the Purple Line in the Constrained Long Range Plan. This is the final step to qualify the Purple Line to join road and transit projects across Greater Washington and nationally in applying for funding in the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users), the Federal surface transportation program for roads and transit.

This vote follows a unanamous Transportation Planning Board vote on June 17 to approve the light rail Purple Line for air quality conformity testing. The COG press release for that decision is available online here.


August 4, 2009:
Governor O'Malley selects Light Rail as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA).

Governor O'Malley announced that he is selecting the Purple Line medium investment light rail alternative at a press event at the New Carrollton Metro Station. The project will now be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under its "New Starts" process as the State seeks the approval to begin preliminary engineering and competes for federal funding for the $1.5 billion project. The governor's press release is available online here.


January 2009:
Two Counties united in call for Purple Line Light Rail.

  • January 15, 2009: The Montgomery County Planning Board votes 4 - 1 to support Light Rail Purple Line along the Master Plan alignment.
  • January 22, 2009: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett affirms support for Light Rail Purple Line along the Master Plan alignmnent.
  • January 27, 2009: The Montgomery County Council Votes 8 - 0 in Support of Medium Light Rail option for Purple Line.
The Executive and Council of Prince George's County had already gone on record in unanamous support for the Purple Line Light Rail. Now both counties are united in calling on the Governor to select Light Rail as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) and to submit the Purple Line to the Federal Department of Transportation for funding consideration.


October 2008 to January 2009:
Purple Line draws strong support during AA/DEIS comment period.

The MTA released the Purple Line Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) on October 17, 2008 and a ninety day public response period began. The AA/DEIS is available at the MTA Purple Line website. A majority of those testifying at each of four public hearings spoke in support of Purple Line light rail. Many key organizations declared their support during this period. Among the many endorsements:

  1. The Washington Post in two editorials:
    "Full Speed Ahead" (11/16/08), "The Purple Line provides a one-time opportunity to connect Prince George's and Montgomery and spur smart growth in the region's suburbs. The current fiscal crisis shouldn't limit the project's ambitions nor sway the state to support an option that is less effective in the long term."
    and also
    "Forward Purple Line" (1/4/09), "...few projects are as attractive to federal funders as the Purple Line, which would ferry thousands of federal workers and has one of the highest ridership estimates of proposed transit projects in the country.. ."

  2. The Montgomery Gazette in an editorial:
    "Advance the Purple Line" (12/10/08), "Chances of winning federal dollars are enhanced by unified support of elected leaders and the communities they represent. With a new federal administration looking to pour billions of dollars into transportation projects and infrastructure, a loud voice of support for the Purple Line will carry far. Derailing this project should not be an option."

  3. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association. WABA observed in their endorsement: "It is important that bicyclists reject the assertions that the trail and transit are incompatible and that having transit near the trail will devastate the trail. Efforts to build a trail network will be severely undercut if decision makers become convinced trails should never be built alongside transit."

Shorter Commutes - Less Pollution - Better Trails - More Jobs - Higher Property Values - Stronger Communities