MD appeals judge's order requiring additional review of $5.6B Purple Line
- The Maryland Attorney General's Office has appealed a federal judge's ruling that requires officials for the $5.6 billion Purple Line light-rail project to submit new ridership figures, according to The Washington Post.
- In a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon dismissed portions of a complaint against the rail line that dealt with endangered species and migratory birds but upheld his decision that Purple Line officials must reconsider the impact of declining Metrorail ridership on the Purple Line and turn in a supplement to the project's original review.
- Construction on the Purple Line was originally set to begin in October, and the additional review could take several months to complete, piling onto the delays.
When Leon stopped the project back in August, he ordered the Federal Transit Administration to take another look at the ridership numbers submitted by Purple Line officials, and the agency responded that it believed the number of Metrorail riders would not impact the new light-rail system. State and rail officials awaited Leon's ruling on this information, and when it finally came on May 22, the judge called the FTA's response "arbitrary and capricious" and ordered the new study.
The longer the project is sidelined, the higher the risk that it will never move forward. When Leon revoked its federal approval in August, it was only a few days before the project was set to receive a $900 million grant from the FTA. In addition, the financing component under the public-private partnership consortium, Purple Line Transit Partners, now sits in limbo.
PLTP has maintained that it is ready to move on the project and that it is still committed to seeing it through but will most likely have to make a decision if the project is delayed much longer.
The lawsuit was filed by activists who don't want a popular park area destroyed by the changes necessary to make way for the rail. They have also argued that local officials did not give adequate consideration to funding alternate forms of transportation like improved bus service.
- Washington Business Journal New Purple Line ruling opens door to appeal, but the $5.6B project still threatened
- The Washington Post Judge dismisses most of lawsuit against Purple Line, but ridership estimates must still be redone
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter