Judge’s ruling could delay construction of purple line

Metro’s well-documented issues with safety and diminished ridership numbers may have a new victim: the yet-to-be-constructed Purple Line.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ruled yesterday that the Maryland Transit Administration needs to recalculate its ridership projections because its approval was based on forecasts that are no longer accurate. He said he could not “turn a blind eye to the recent extraordinary events involving seemingly endless Metrorail breakdowns and safety issues,” according to The Washington Post.

While the 16.2-mile, $2.4 billion light rail line isn’t a part of the Metro system, it will have connections to the Red, Green, and Orange lines among its 21 stops. Maryland will pay $160 million in construction costs, and is seeking $900 million in federal transit aid along with contributions from local jurisdictions.

“The entire project is at risk because the delay could mean higher construction costs that undo the negotiated public-private financial structure,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, in a statement. ““Yes, Metrorail is facing challenges over the next few years, but the Purple Line is a long-term investment and ridership forecasts are for 2040, by which time the Metro system will have completed major rehabilitation.”

The plaintiffs in the case against building the Purple Line are the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail. It’s unclear whether this ruling will delay construction, which was slated to begin later this year.

Image courtesy of Maryland Transit Administration

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