Business leaders from the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, other local Chambers and leaders in the building industry from across the Washington Region came together today at the University of Maryland for a strategy session with top political leaders on advancing the Purple Line, which is due to begin construction by the end of 2015.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has included initial funding in his first budget, and will be making a final decision on the project after a 90-day review period that coincides with an ongoing bid process involving dozens of private-sector firms seeking to participate in a public-private partnership to help fund and build the Purple Line.
Citing its profoundly positive economic impacts, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and County Council Chairs George Leventhal and Mel Franklin from the same counties, joined the mainly business crowd in calling upon the Governor to approve the project, which remains one of SMTA’s priority near-term projects.
The economic return on this $2.4 billion investment is significant — new studies indicate that over a 30-year period the Purple Line would create over 27,000 jobs, increase surrounding property values by $9.8 billion, and generate a positive return to federal, state and local governments of over $10 billion, or nearly 5 times the proposed investment.
The state is facing financial strains, and other pressing transportation needs to be funded to be sure, but the vast majority of the funding already committed to the Purple Line is project-specific and cannot be re-purposed (including some $900 million in federal funds that will go to another state if not used for the Purple Line). The fact is, cutting the Purple Line now, as it nears the finish line in a decades-long review process, would be a huge setback for Maryland businesses, the local economy, and future state tax revenues.
The project is nearly shovel-ready and is slated to begin construction by the end of this Fiscal Year. This means its benefits — including tens of thousands of new construction jobs, rising incomes and improved property values — will begin to be felt right away, providing an almost immediate boost to state and local revenues (without raising tax rates). Not doing so would have the opposite effect, and could set back prospects for other public-private-partnerships significantly by discouraging other bidders from stepping forward.
In our view, the case for the Purple Line has been made. It is a sound business investment and should move forward now, not later. With a newly elected Governor committed to job growth and economic competitiveness as his top priorities, SMTA and the business leaders at today’s meeting all share the belief that the Purple Line would go a long way to get us there.