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Coalition of 45 Business Leaders Asks Secretary Chao to Fund Purple Line

A coalition of 45 business leaders wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao last week, urging her to finalize the Purple Line’s $900 million New Starts grant as soon as the project’s Record of Decision is reinstated by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

The letter was signed by developers with projects in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, including JBG, the Bozzuto Group, Federal Realty, Carr Properties, and Urban Atlantic. Marriott International, which recently announced the relocation of its headquarters to a new 700,000 square foot “urban campus” in downtown Bethesda, also signed on. In addition, business organizations like the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Montgomery and Prince George’s Chambers of Commerce, representing hundreds of businesses and employers in the region, lent their names to this effort.

The letter points out that the Purple Line is a privately-financed, shovel-ready infrastructure project that will create thousands of jobs. In addition, it is only the second public-private transit project in the United States and its cancellation “would have a powerful negative impact on the ability to attract future private infrastructure investment.”

Purple Line Now President Ralph Bennett applauds the development and business community for speaking up for this project, which has been decades in the making. “The people of Maryland have waited far too long for the Purple Line to be built, and construction would have finally begun months ago were it not for a frivolous lawsuit filed by a group of Chevy Chase opponents who misuse the legal system to advance their own narrow self interest.” Bennett adds that “businesses know that the Purple Line is an investment in our region’s future that will pay off many times over in increased incomes, property values, and quality of life.”

The Purple Line was scheduled to begin construction in the fall of 2016, but was delayed by Judge Leon days before the Federal Transit Administration was scheduled to sign a $900 million grant for the project. The MTA and its private partner, the Purple Line Transit Partners, have been continuing work on right-of-way acquisition, design, and pre-construction surveys. However, before construction can begin, the judge must rule on an updated ridership analysis submitted in December at his request and then the FTA must sign the Full Funding Grant Agreement.

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