MD governor requests legal order to compel judge to rule in Purple Line case
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has asked the state's attorney general to file a writ of mandamus to force a federal judge to make a ruling in the lawsuit blocking construction of the $5.6 billion Purple Line, according to The Washington Post.
- Hogan highlighted in his letter to Attorney General Brian Frosh that U.S. District Judge Richard Leon missed the AG's desired deadline of April 28.
- Leon put a halt to the project in August and revoked its federal approval after questioning the ridership figures in the project's environmental review. Upon the judge's orders, the Federal Transit Administration crunched the numbers again and found in December that declining Metro ridership, which was at the root of the judge's concern about the project, would have no significant impact on the Purple Line, Bethesda Magazine reported.
Leon revoked federal approval for the light-rail project last August just a few days before it was set to receive a $900 million Federal Transit Administration grant. The pressure for a decision is even stronger since President Donald Trump proposed that the FTA withhold funding from projects that don't already have a final agreement in place with the agency, which is where the Purple Line finds itself now.
Earlier this month, Purple Line Transit Partners, which was hired to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the line as part of a public-private partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Administration, said it was still committed to seeing the project through despite the estimated cost of delays. Purple Line officials have said that for every month the project is delayed, it incurs approximately $13 million in additional costs.
PLTP — a joint venture between Fluor, Meridiam and Star America — announced financial close on the P3 agreement in June 2016. The project has been touted as one of the largest P3s in the country. The state plans to contribute $3.3 billion to the Purple Line, and PLTP will contribute $1 billion. Before the legal issues, the project was scheduled to open in 2022. As of the beginning of April, project officials said the schedule could be adjusted to still meet that deadline.
That announcement came after rail officials missed a critical deforestation window. From April 1 to September 30 each year, the trees along the route are off limits because migratory birds nest there, so construction along that stretch cannot begin until after September, regardless of the judge's ruling.
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