Pur­ple Line gets con­di­tional go-ahead

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER -

Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) gave ten­ta­tive ap­proval to a slimmed-down ver­sion of the Pur­ple Line, set­ting aside his long-stand­ing skep­ti­cism of costly transit projects to sup­port a 16-mile light-rail line that back­ers say will re­ju­ve­nate in­ner sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods in Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties.

The an­nounce­ment was a ma­jor shift for a staunch fis­cal con­ser­va­tive who strongly op­posed the Pur­ple Line as too costly when he cam­paigned for gover­nor last year. But he also showed he had not for­got­ten his con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal base: Ho­gan si­mul­ta­ne­ously an­nounced that he would not go for­ward with the Red Line ligh­trail pro­ject in Bal­ti­more, which he termed a “boon­dog­gle.”

He also said he would in­crease spend­ing on roads and bridges by $1.35 bil­lion in com­ing years, and he em­pha­sized that lay­ing high­way as­phalt rather than transit rail re­mained “our top trans­porta­tion pri­or­ity.”

Ho­gan’s go-ahead for the Pur­ple Line came with con­di­tions, es­pe­cially a re­quire­ment that Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties pick up more of the cost. They al­ready have com­mit­ted to spend more than $300 mil­lion on the pro­ject in the ex­pec­ta­tion that what they say is a badly needed east-west transit link will pro­mote de­vel­op­ment and at­tract jobs.

— Robert McCart­ney

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