Just a week after a federal judge ruled construction of the Purple Line light-rail project cannot begin during the appeals process, Maryland officials aim to expedite it.
According to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, officials claim a long delay would cost taxpayers millions of dollars already committed.
Officials say Prince George’s and Montgomery counties have already dedicated $335 million to the project. In addition, Congress has appropriated $325 million of $900 million. However, the federal money can’t be touched until the project gets approval to begin construction.
“The Purple Line has been in the planning and approval process for well over a decade. The District Court’s final judgment … threatens further losses to the state and its taxpayers and promises to deprive the public of the many benefits that would result from the project,” said the 24-page document submitted by Attorney General Brian Frosh, Assistant Attorney General Julie Sweeney and the state’s attorneys, Eric D. Miller and Albert M. Ferlo.
Officials put together an abbreviated timeline to begin the appeal process from July 20 to Aug. 24. Afterward, oral arguments could be heard and then the court issue a ruling.
District Judge Richard Leon ruled officials with the state and Federal Transportation Administration must conduct a new environment study on the $2.1 billion project, which would run between New Carrollton in Prince George’s and Bethesda in Montgomery County.
In his decision, Leon also requested officials to determine the impact the project would have on Metro in terms of safety and ridership.
Although the 16-mile Purple Line would connect to four Metro stations, it would be built by a private contractor and overseen by the Maryland Transit Administration.
Friends of the Crescent Trail, a nonprofit organization based in Bethesda that filed the lawsuit against the Purple Line, has criticized the project’s potential cost and its effect on the environment and vehicular traffic.