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Feds Could Shell Out $100M for Purple Line

Joshua Garner | 3/5/2014, 1:15 p.m.
A federal agency has recommended funding $100 million toward the proposed Purple Line railway project in Maryland.
Courtesy of purplelinemd.com

A federal agency has recommended funding $100 million toward the proposed Purple Line railway project in Maryland.

The Federal Transit Administration recommended the funds as part of a tentative full funding agreement; the funds are earmarked as part of President Barack Obama 2015 fiscal year budget, according to reports. The funds are seen as a milestone for the project, which are sorely needed to help pay for the 16-mile light-rail line's $2.37 billion price tag. The line would connect Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George's County.

The Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) is requesting that the federal government contribute about half of the cost for the Purple Line with the remainder financed by state and local funds.

"The Purple Line is many things … but it will be an economic engine in Prince George's County," Tom Farasy, chair of the Purple Rail Alliance, said during a meeting last month in Annapolis to discuss the line's prospects for securing federal finding.

Still, Purple Line isn't out of the woods yet. The $100 million, which is not yet guaranteed, might be little more than kick-start funds for the project as the MTA still needs a more long-term funding commitment for the federal governmental as well as environmental approval. A total of 116 homes and buildings would need to be demolished to make way for the line. And officials in Montgomery County are still sparring with a pharmacist trade union to tear down its headquarters because the building sits in the path of the Purple Line.

MTA officials still hope to begin construction in 2015 with the goal of having the line open for service by 2020. The line would include 21 stops and intersect with Metro and MARC stations in Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrolton.

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