Portions of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties will have streaks of purple in the next several years.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao signed a funding agreement Monday with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan during a groundbreaking ceremony in Hyattsville to begin construction of the Purple Line light-rail project.
Chao said the most important part rests with the partnership between the private and public sectors to build rail transportation, a major initiative pushed by President Donald Trump.
“The Department of Transportation in Maryland under Gov. Hogan worked very hard to make this project that would be easily fundable,” she said after six other county, state and federal officials offered remarks. “For such a large project such as this, there needs to be a collaborative effort with all stakeholders. This is a primary example of a private-partnership that can result in a successful signing of a full funding agreement.”
The agreement allows for a total of $900 million in federal dollars to be contributed to the estimated $5.6 billion project, which includes $2.1 billion in construction costs.
Three partnering companies would construct, operate and maintain the line for more than 36 years at $3.3 billion. All three companies — Fluor, Meridiam and Star America — will invest its own money in the second public-private partnership transit project in the country.
Approximately 21 stations are slated to run east-west between New Carrollton in Prince George’s to Bethesda in Montgomery County. Line will connect to the Metro system, but Purple Line will be overseen by the state Department of Transportation.
Although the federal court of appeals ruled last month the state can being work on the project, it still remains in effect because the court has to weight Judge Richard Leon’s order for more environmental analyst. In addition, plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in 2014 by residents in Montgomery County will present briefs next month on why Leon’s decision should be confirmed.
However, given Chao’s blessing on the project and Hogan sitting inside an excavator tearing down portion of a building on property that would house the future Purple Line Operations Center, supporters are convinced the project won’t be interrupted.
“I feel real confident that it’s going to be built … here in Prince George’s County,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. “By the time you get to the issues in Montgomery County, [the suit] will be solved.”
Officials said the project will produce 6,000 construction jobs, create 52,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in economic development.
“Tracks figurately and literally lead to the kind of inclusive growth that Prince George’s County and Montgomery County [needs],” said Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland).