Silver Spring, MD - Purple Line NOW is disappointed that Judge Leon has declined to reinstate the Purple Line’s Record of Decision and thus continues to delay groundbreaking. Purple Line NOW President Ralph Bennett notes that “the evidence of Maryland’s need for east-west connections remains overwhelming. It can be seen every day in the form of overcrowded rush hour buses, in Marriott’s new Bethesda-based headquarters, and in the bipartisan support the project continues to enjoy.”
The Purple Line is not a Metrorail project--it is owned by the Maryland Transit Administration and has its own dedicated funding stream and private partner to manage operations and maintenance. Nonetheless, Bennett notes that “the Purple Line will reinforce Metrorail by providing convenient access to tens of thousands of new riders and adding resilience by connecting Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton. Our region needs the Purple Line today! Construction cannot start soon enough.”
Purple Line NOW Vice President Greg Sanders said that the mixed ruling has a silver lining for the Purple Line, noting that the organization was gratified that Judge Leon recognized the precedent that these sort of decisions "require a high level of technical expertise" and benefit from "the informed discretion of responsible federal agencies."
Instead of demanding an expensive and time consuming Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), the court has now given the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) a chance to weigh in with more information. Sanders adds that “while the court did not consider new information as part of its ruling, federal experts have already gathered compelling evidence of the need for the Purple Line regardless of Metrorail’s present challenges.” Lucy Garliauskas, the FTA's Associate Administrator for Planning and Environment, has testified that projected Purple Line ridership numbers, even setting aside Metrorail transfers entirely, “adequately justify the purpose and need of the project.”
Mr. Bennett concludes, “it certainly seems to us that the FTA and Maryland are on firm ground if they choose to appeal the court’s choice to keep the project on hold.”