Ruling paves way for building Purple Line
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