Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was only sworn into office on Wednesday, but he is already busy at work.
Reports Thursday show Hogan has retained state funding for the Purple Line in his first state budget, Montgomery Community Media reports.
The 16-mile route of the proposed light-rail Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton received approval in March 2014 for state authorities to begin condemning property needed.
The Purple Line would make stops at the University of Maryland, Silver Spring and Takoma Park and other major population centers. But, more than 116 home and business owners are going to have to vacate their property to make room for the new train’s route, The Washington Post reports.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, applauded Hogan’s decision to finance the rail project in a statement.
“We were pleased to see that both Purple Line and Red Line Funding remaining Governor Hogan’s first Maryland budget,” Schwartz said. “The Purple Line is a good deal for Maryland, good for jobs, good for the economy and good for commuters.
“Given the governor’s emphasis on improving Maryland’s economy, we’re confident that the Purple Line is the ideal investment for providing the jobs and economic development boost the Governor seeks,” Schwartz continued. “Business groups agree, expressing a loud and unified message in support of the Purple Line — from the Montgomery and Prince George’s County Chambers of Commerce, to the real estate development industry and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
“By investing $300 to $700 million in the Purple Line, the state will leverage another $1.7 to $2.1 billion in private, local, and federal funding. Delaying or cancelling the project would forego the local and private investment, and $900 million in federal funds, which would then go to other states. Another $170 million has already been invested in planning, engineering, and right-of-way acquisition, and private firms have spent tens of millions on preparing bids. Walking away would waste taxpayer money, discourage future public-private partnerships, and forego a significant economic development opportunity.”
Leaders in the Town of Chevy Chase have criticized the route for the line and in its January 2015 newsletter the city says it will continue to suggest alternatives to the project.
“Over the next several months, we will continue to educate decision-makers on the flaws of the project – including spiraling costs, weak ridership data, and potential environmental harm,” officials write in the newsletter. “We also will work with federal, state and local officials to help identify alternative, affordable transportation solutions that will improve the quality of life for our community and all communities in Maryland.”
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