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Purple Line Facing Another Delay After Judge's Ruling

A rendering of Urban Atlantic's planned development around the New Carrollton Metro station

Maryland's long-awaited Purple Line connecting New Carrollton to Bethesda could be facing yet another delay after a federal judge's ruling Wednesday.

US District Judge Richard Leon ordered federal approval for the project be put on hold so the state can recalculate ridership projections, the Washington Post reports. 

While the project will be built and operated by the Maryland Transit Administration and not WMATA, Leon cited Metro's falling ridership and frequent safety lapses as reasons to reassess construction of a new rail line. The lawsuit was brought by skeptical Chevy Chase residents seeking to put the project on hold for an environmental impact review. 

To build the 16-station rail line that will connect Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Maryland is banking on $900M in federal transit money. 

Construction had been scheduled to begin this fall and the Purple Line was slated to open in 2022. It remains unclear how much of a delay will result from this ruling. 

The Maryland Attorney General's office said in court filings that having to take time to reassess ridership “would be profoundly disruptive and could jeopardize the Purple Line project," according to the Post.


Prince George's County executive Rushern Baker told Bisnow last month that any delay will hurt the county's economic development.

"Especially since we're having the Purple Line start in the county, it will hurt us," Baker said. "It will hurt our ability to get those businesses." 

Baker, snapped at Bisnow's Future of Prince George's County event last month, released a statement Thursday reiterating how vital a timely construction start is for the county.

"I call upon Governor Hogan and Attorney General Frosh to appeal the court’s decision and take every possible step to insure that it will not delay the beginning of construction, in Prince George's County, of the Purple Line light rail system," Baker's statement read. 

Several developers have already begun projects built around future Purple Line stations, like the massive New Carrollton development rendered above, banking on the project's timely construction. [WaPo]