MD requests emergency ruling to restart Purple Line construction
- The state of Maryland has requested an emergency federal ruling that would allow it to move forward with the $5.6 billion Purple Line light-rail project, according to The Washington Post.
- State officials are asking the court to suspend U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's ruling, which has halted the project pending a supplemental environmental review. Leon has not ruled yet on the state's recent request that construction be allowed to proceed while it appeals his August decision to revoke federal and state approval.
- If the state does not get the go ahead to restart the project by Aug. 1, officials said the project could be shelved permanently.
In 2014, an advocacy group based in Chevy Chase, MD, and two individuals filed a lawsuit seeking to stop construction of the rail based on several factors, including a claim that the ridership figures submitted in the original environmental review did not reflect declining Metrorail use. Purple Line officials used Metrorail figures in calculating their own potential ridership.
So, just days before the project was set to receive a $900 million grant check from the Federal Transit Administration, Leon rescinded the project's state and federal approvals and ordered the FTA to take another look at the ridership numbers. The FTA reported back to the court that it had re-reviewed the Purple Line numbers and believed they were correct. Leon rejected that conclusion and ordered a time-consuming supplemental environmental review.
Purple Line Transit Partners, the private consortium that is part of a public-private partnership (P3) with the state, said in May that it is still committed to the project, but, as time goes on, important deadlines are passing, potentially making the project difficult to revive.
According to The Post, the state has already stopped some work on the project. If there isn't a resolution by Aug. 1, the state said it would have to terminate the project and absorb approximately $800 million in costs and fees. The state has reportedly spent $380 million on the project thus far and said that costs increase by $13 million for every month of delay.
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