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The Latest On The Upcoming Purple Line

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Purple Line rendering
A rendering of a Purple Line train

Construction for the Purple Line light rail project is still on hold due to an August lawsuit filed on environmental grounds that triggered delays, reviews and appeals for the Maryland Transit Administration and Federal Transit Administration.

The Purple Line will service a 16-mile route from Bethesda to New Carrollton, and intersect Metro's Orange Line at New Carrollton, the Green Line at College Park and the Red Line at Silver Spring and Bethesda, running east to west.

The proposed line has 21 stations that Metro hopes will serve as nexuses for transit-oriented developments while improving traffic flows, reducing emissions and providing fast, reliable public transportation for residents. To serve commuters and travelers, it will also connect to MARC, Amtrak and local bus routes.

Linking wealthy Montgomery County with comparably lower-income Prince George’s County will provide the latter’s residents with access to higher-paying jobs, its supporters say. The project represents a public-private partnership between Maryland and Purple Line Transit Partners, and is estimated to cost $5.6B over the next 36 years, 16% of which would come from the federal government.

Construction will take place over the next five years, and the line is expected to be operational by 2022, yet the groundbreaking was delayed due to the lawsuit.

Judge Richard Leon ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in August that the line's builders had failed to consider Metro's declining ridership when it approved its 2014 environmental study.

The ruling, upheld in November, has the potential to stymie the project for months, but in order to prevent having to redo the review, the FTA and MTA in December countered by claiming that despite diminished commuter volume, the project would create a dependable east-west public transit system, a goal of planners in suburban Maryland for decades.

Leon has not issued a new ruling since. Plaintiffs in the purple line lawsuit have requested the federal government cover their $500k in legal expenses.