Purple Line May Face New Post-Election Hurdles

|

Purple Line mapThe Purple Line, a long-debated light-rail transit line running from the Bethesda through Silver Spring, College Park and eventually connecting all the way to New Carrollton, may be facing new hurdles with the election of Larry Hogan as Maryland’s next Governor.  As reported in the Washington Post, during the campaign Hogan expressed skepticism regarding the need for the Purple Line, though he later moderated his comments and now says he will keep an open mind.  We hope so.

SMTA has long supported the Purple Line as an important suburb-to-suburb connection between key activity centers on both ends of the Metro Red Line, as well as the Green and Orange Lines.  It creates a far more robust transit backbone for suburban Maryland communities and brings with it significant economic development and job-creation benefits.  Moreover, the Purple Line enjoys overwhelming support from voters in the DC suburbs and enjoys strong backing from the local business community — including all the local Chambers of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

While the new political terrain in Maryland may pose new challenges, and perhaps a new round of questions regarding the most cost-effective way to build the Purple Line, it is hard to see the project itself coming to a halt at this point.  Millions has already been invested in right-of-way acquisition, planning and engineering, and prior studies indicate significant economic and transportation benefits.

Maryland leaders should always seek to maximize taxpayers’ return on investment on major projects like this, so such questions should be asked (and have been).  However, we find that often the best way to reduce cost is to push for swift completion of projects to avoid the cost inflation that always comes from delay and inaction.

When it comes to the Purple Line, and other priority transportation projects in the Greater Washington region, it may be that further delay is the most expensive option of all.