Rul­ing paves way for build­ing Pur­ple Line

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER -

A fed­eral ap­peals court rul­ing on Wed­nes­day will al­low Mary­land to be­gin build­ing the Pur­ple Line while a law­suit op­pos­ing it con­tin­ues, clear­ing the way for the state to pur­sue fed­eral fund­ing for a light-rail project that has faced nearly a year of le­gal de­lays.

In a ma­jor vic­tory for the state, the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit re­in­stated the Pur­ple Line’s en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­proval, which a lower-court judge had re­voked last year, while the le­gal case con­tin­ues.

The rul­ing al­lows the state to try to se­cure $900 mil­lion in fed­eral grants for the line’s $2 bil­lion con­struc­tion while Mary­land’s at­tor­ney gen­eral ap­peals an ear­lier rul­ing in the 2014 law­suit seek­ing to block it.

Mary­land of­fi­cials have said con­struc­tion on the 16-mile line be­tween Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties could be­gin within a few weeks of re­ceiv­ing a fed­eral fund­ing com­mit­ment.

A key is­sue re­mains, how­ever: whether the Trans­porta­tion De­part­ment will con­sider the rul­ing to pro­vide enough le­gal cer­tainty to sign a mul­ti­year fund­ing agree­ment with the state for nearly $1 bil­lion in fed­eral aid. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed end­ing fed­eral grants for new tran­sit con­struc­tion but has said in bud­get doc­u­ments that it is still con­sid­er­ing the Pur­ple Line for fed­eral fund­ing. — Kather­ine Shaver

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