State Congressional leaders make their pitch to Hogan on Purple Line

Add most of Maryland’s congressional delegation to the chorus urging Governor-elect Larry Hogan not to cancel or delay construction of the Purple Line.

Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, along with House Representatives Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, Donna Edwards, John Sarbanes, John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen, penned a letter to Hogan on Thursday reminding the Republican that they’ve “fought hard to ensure that federal funds are available” to build both the Purple Line and Red Line.

The Red Line light rail, also from the Maryland Transit Administration, would link Baltimore’s downtown with areas to the east and west:

Recognizing the significance of these projects, we secured the first installment of federal funding for both the Red and Purple Lines in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 (Public Law 113-235). If Maryland signs full funding agreements for each project with the Federal Transit Administration by the end of September as currently planned, the Red Line and the Purple Line will each receive $100 million in federal funding this fiscal year, and up to $900 million in federal funding over the entire construction period.

The entire Baltimore and Greater Washington area Congressional delegations have fought hard to ensure that federal funds are available to support the Red and Purple Lines, and we have worked closely with State and local leaders to put in place the many components needed to qualify the projects for federal funding. This is truly an historic opportunity that may never come again, and we look forward to working with you to finalize plans for the Red and Purple Lines in order to ensure that Maryland benefits from the better future these projects will create.

It isn’t the first letter Hogan has received on the subject and it definitely won’t be the last before he’s sworn in on Wednesday. Hogan has said he has yet to make a decision on the future of the $2.45 billion Purple Line.

But he didn’t have good things to say about it during his campaign and since being elected, has strongly indicated he’d rather focus on highway construction around the state.

Leaders of the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Chambers of Commerce made their plea for the project in December.

That followed similar messages from a group of local developers calling itself the Economic Partners of the Purple Line and the chairs of the Montgomery and Prince George’s County Planning Boards.

The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, a Chevy Chase-based group against the Purple Line, sent a message to supporters earlier this week asking them to let Hogan know of their opposition.

“There has been a flood of pro-Purple Lie groups hounding the governor elect to break with common sense,” wrote Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail President Ajay Bhatt. “Let’s let him know he has our support on this issue:”

I write in strong opposition to the Purple Line. It will only harm Maryland’s economic future, and it will benefit only those who have an immediate interest in its construction.

The Purple Line is the wrong choice for Maryland for numerous reasons:

– The Purple Line will do nothing to dissipate the gridlock in Montgomery and PG Counties. The added cars from additional development will outpace the projected Purple Line ridership, particularly with less funding available for road construction and maintenance.

– For far less money, Maryland could improve its roads, add more bus transportation options, and create incentives for using the current mass transit system, thereby attracting businesses across the state.

– Maryland’s voters have spoken at the polls. They are tired of overspending and high taxation that only benefit one of the wealthiest portions of the state.

– The comparison to Virginia’s Silver Line by Purple Line supporters is misguided. The Silver Line is a part of the Metrorail system, and it directly connects economic centers that already exist along a single highway. The Purple Line, on the other hand, will operate separately from Metrorail, and it will cut through residential neighborhoods, displace local businesses, and generally disrupt our economy’s cautious recovery. Maryland’s traffic woes would be far better served by providing more transit options on the I-270 corridor and improving connections across our bridges.

The PEOPLE of Maryland have said “enough is enough” – stop the Purple Line now.

Meanwhile, the pro-Purple Line Coalition for Smarter Growth this week asked its supporters to email both Hogan and their local state legislators about making the Purple Line a top priority in Annapolis this session:

Please make the Purple Line a top priority in Annapolis

As you depart for Annapolis for this year’s General Assembly, I urge you to do everything you can to fight for the Purple Line. This project is essential for creating a sustainable and vibrant economic future for Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

Here’s why I hope you’ll make fighting for the Purple Line your top priority:

– The Montgomery and Prince George’s County Executives and Councils have listed the Purple Line as their top priority for the last several years.

– Maryland’s investment in the Purple Line will leverage an estimated $1.6 to $2 billion in federal, local and private funding for the project – which can’t be switched to other projects.

– Maryland’s Washington area suburbs are our primary economic engine, but without the Purple Line, gridlock will stall that engine.

– Companies want access to transit — 84 percent of current office development in the DC region is within a quarter mile of a Metro stop. Today’s employees want to live and work near transit, and tens of thousands of housing units are being built near transit stations in the DC region.

– In Montgomery County alone, it’s estimated that the Purple Line will increase land value by as much as $700 million, as it promotes revitalization of old commercial corridors.

– The Purple Line will connect the University of Maryland much more effectively to our nation’s capital and the high-tech job centers of Montgomery and Prince George’s County, helping to attract the best and brightest students and professors.

– Construction of the Purple Line will create an estimated 3,500 near-term jobs for Marylanders.

After decades of planning, investment, and community involvement, the Purple Line is ready to begin construction this year. This is too important to not do everything we can now to avoid derailing the project. Please make this your top priority.

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