August 9, 2016
The Honorable Pete K. Rahn
Maryland Department of Transportation
7201 Corporate Center Drive
Hanover, MD 21076
Dear Secretary Rahn:
As a coalition of organizations that strongly supports the Purple Line, we want to thank you for your continued commitment to the Purple Line. We were very disappointed in the recent court ruling vacating the project’s Record of Decision and ordering the Maryland Transit Administration to conduct a supplemental EIS. Coming only four days before the anticipated signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreement, this decision was obviously a surprise and a setback. Like you, we are deeply concerned that further delays in this long-anticipated and essential transit project may imperil it.
As you know, the Purple Line will create a vital and necessary east-west transit link through the Maryland suburbs, connecting employers and workers, encouraging investment in new transit-oriented development, and creating thousands of new jobs. In addition, the completion of the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring, which is being built in conjunction with the Purple Line, will provide a safe and reliable route for pedestrians and bicyclists. For these reasons, we applauded Governor Hogan’s decision to move forward with the Purple Line. We know the decision was not made lightly, and that you worked closely with him to ensure that the project can be completed in a cost-effective manner.
We need the Purple Line now more than ever and do not believe that further study is necessary to demonstrate why it is one of the FTA’s most highly-rated transit projects. In fact, there is every reason to believe that Metro’s renewed commitment to improved performance and its SafeTrack program, which will be completed over the coming year, will result in increased Metro ridership well in advance of the Purple Line’s anticipated opening in five years.
For these reasons, we were very encouraged by your decision to appeal this flawed ruling and would like to offer our continued support and assistance to you and the Maryland Transit Administration to ensure that the Purple Line can move forward without further delay. Once again, thanks to you and your team at the MTA for all your hard work on this issue.
Ralph Bennett, President
Purple Line Now
Greg Billing, Executive Director
Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Ronit Dancis, President
Action Committee for Transit
Daniel G. Waetjen, Chairman
Greater Washington Board of Trade
Georgette Godwin, President and CEO
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
David Harrington, President and CEO
Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce
Ginanne M. Italiano, IOM, President and CEO
The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce
Jane Redicker, IOM, President and CEO
Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Coalition for Smarter Growth
cc: The Honorable Barbara Mikulski, U. S. Senator
The Honorable Ben Cardin, U.S. Senator
The Honorable Christopher Van Hollen, U.S. Congressman
Governor Larry Hogan
Craig Williams, Chief of Staff to Governor Hogan
Roy C. McGrath, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Hogan
Joseph Getty, Legislative Director to Governor Hogan
Adam Dubitsky, Policy Director to Governor Hogan
Mark Newgent, Deputy Policy Director to Governor Hogan
Charles Lattuca, Maryland Transit Administration, Executive Director
Montgomery County Delegation
Prince George's County Delegation
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmembers
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and County Councilmembers
Maryland will appeal the Judge's ruling delaying the Purple Line:
"Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn says the state will appeal the ruling made Wednesday by a federal judge that vacates federal approval of the Purple Line light-rail project and requires the state to conduct another ridership study.
“We are deeply disappointed that this puts the Purple Line in jeopardy,” Rahn said in a statement. “We will work closely with the Attorney General to seek a quick decision from the court of appeals"
Read more here:
Purple Line NOW was disappointed by Judge Richard Leon's order mandating a project delay for additional study. PLN Board President Ralph Bennett elaborates, “The need for the Purple Line only grows more compelling over time as our region adds new residents and jobs. We have no doubt that the study ordered by Judge Leon will affirm the same fact found by all of the past studies: our region desperately needs East-West transit alternatives. This decision delays relief for tens of thousands of future riders, for employees going to a job in Bethesda, for students young and old commuting to the University of Maryland, for 90,000 Marylanders who will newly be within a half mile of transit, and for thousands of workers who will be employed to construct it."
The ruling delays a project supported by Maryland's Republican Governor, Democratic statehouse, and by the public and elected officials in both Montgomery and Prince George's counties. "We take Metro's safety difficulties very seriously, as do our elected officials, the Maryland Transit Agency, and the Federal Transit Administration," says Purple Line Vice President Greg Sanders. "They are well aware that the region needs both systems and that the Purple Line is planned to start operation in 2022, years after the current Metro repairs are complete.”
With your help, Purple Line NOW will remain engaged to highlight the project’s widespread support and the many ways it will make our region better for decades to come. We are already planning an exciting forum on September 29th that will bring in experts from Denver, Colorado to show us the real world benefits of a public-private partnership model employed by the Purple Line. Stay tuned for all of the details coming soon!
We are dismayed, but not discouraged and confident that together we can overcome this setback, just as we have greater challenges in the past. Please feel free to call or email with questions or concerns as we move forward!
Purple Line NOW
We are asking an important favor - Purple Line NOW needs your assistance in raising financial support. We are a bare bones operation. Today, with about $5,000 remaining in our operating budget, Purple Line NOW needs your help - we hope you will continue your leadership by donating. Please read on to see the impact PLN is making in our community - including a brand new forum in late September (details coming soon!)
Specifically, here's how you can help:
- Become a sponsor of our Envisioning the Purple Line Series - your name will be listed alongside these terrific sponsors.
- Consider becoming our Presenting Sponsor (donation level: $5,000). You will be highlighted at our forums, on our website, and at the top of the marquee at all of our venues. Please contact Christine Scott ([email protected]) if you are interested.
- Consider a donation of airline miles! Purple Line NOW has agreed to host an expert from the Denver Eagle project to headline our September forum and we need your help to defray those transportation costs.
As you know, the project has come a long way, and its realization is coming more rapidly than many of us ever thought possible. Our position at the moment raises important questions:
- Where do we go from here?
- Is there more that Purple Line NOW can do to assure the project arrives at the station on time and on budget?
- Can we assist the community by providing education, leadership, and a place to discuss best practices, plans, and insights from those making the project a reality and those who are affected by it?
- And finally, can we connect the residents in our community affected most by the upcoming construction to their elected officials, project leadership, and others who can help smooth the way for an easier transition?
The answer we hear from you is a resounding YES! Purple Line NOW's work is not done - there is more to do to ensure the best project possible for our community. Many of you took part in the first two of our year-long Envisioning the Purple Line forums, both were extremely well attended, covered extensively by the media, and reinforced Purple Line NOW as a primary resource for the community, the media, and for those wanted to know more about the project.
With your help, planning is already underway for the next two events:
- A Best Practices Forum in which members of the Denver Eagle project will be help us get a better idea of what our community can do to assure the best possible outcome for the project, hurdles to be aware of, ideas to borrow, and ways to keep the community informed during construction. We will need funds to bring people associated with this first in the nation major transportation project constructed with a public private partnership to Maryland.
- What kind of jobs will be available as Purple Line construction gets underway? How can people seek them? What is the timeline for the project? A forum set in the Takoma Langley Crossroads area will bring together the community, county officials and the Purple Line builders to highlight opportunities associated with this exciting venture.
You already know we survive on a very slim budget (well under $20,000 a year) and that funding goes to pay our quarter-time executive director, create and direct all of our events, manage our excellent website, provide email information to a large constituency, keep the press updated about the positive aspects, provide speakers for testimony, community groups, and small group meetings, provide flyers, brochures, and many other informational pieces to the general public, and often be the clearinghouse for community questions and fact-finding issues.
Now, I ask you to step up, once again, with a financial contribution to Purple Line NOW so we can continue our work.
Please contact us with questions or to chat about how much your financial support can help us. Thank you for all you do for Purple Line NOW!