The construction and completion of the metro system’s Purple Line light rail now faces possible delays and cancellation after a ruling by a Federal Judge.
Commuters may have to wait longer until The Purple Line light rail project begins construction and eventually become a transit option. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon determined that the Federal Transit Authority failed to take a hard look
at the facts surrounding the controversy of Metro’s potential safety and issues that would impact the project.
Judge Leon had previously determined that the MTA needed to analyze potential safety issues and hazards as well as the ridership’s impact upon the project. The ruling was made as part of the lawsuit against the rail project filed by The Friends of Capital Crescent Trail.
The Federal Transit Authority claims that, in their findings, the ridership of the Purple Line would not be impacted by Metro’s situation and issues on existing lines and stations. The FTA made their claims and pointed out that issues within the Metro rail system could easily be addressed during the construction phases of the Purple Line.
The ruling came on Monday, June 19 as Judge Leon said that the information provided by the FTA relied solely on information gathered prior to last year’s ruling in the case. Judge Leon noted that material facts in the case are questionable after the FTA determined that an environmental study is not needed.
The FTA’s lack of material facts could possibly halt the entire project as the State has requested funding from the Federal Government. The requested $900 million in Federal aid
cannot be granted until a Federal Judge okays the Federal environmental approval of the project that was ordered last year. Leon has instructed Maryland and the FTA to prepare a new statement on the environmental impact of the project ASAP.
Part of the defendants’ argument in the case and ruling is that a cancellation of the project altogether could cost the state over $800 million as a significant amount of money has already been spent on designing and construction planning, while delays and terminated contracts would also result in wasted funds. The project’s opposition, meanwhile, argues that money spent on the Purple line should instead be used on desperately needed repairs already present in the Metrorail system within Maryland.
The proposed Purple Line would run between Bethesda and New Carrolton’s Metrorail stops and provide connections to the Orange, Green and Red lines which ultimately would help the job market and commuters’ accessibility
of locations within Maryland. There would be 21 stations in all should the project be successfully completed; accessibility to Amtrak and Marc stations would also be improved. The Purple line would be 16 miles long and would be operational in spring of 2022 should the project resume as planned.
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