Construction of a planned $2.16 billion light rail across 16 miles of suburban Maryland near Washington, DC, is $40 million closer to beginning, now that one of two counties where the tracks will be located has agreed to pitch in the extra funds.
Gov. Larry Hogan last month reduced the state’s contribution — agreed to by the prior governor — by $500 million. He also announced $215 million in cuts, mostly in design and amenities.
Montgomery County officials said they might delay construction of other public projects, like libraries and new roads, to enhance the county's contribution to the light rail, and that they would need six years to raise the money. Authorities from the other county, Prince George’s, have said they are still debating whether they will increase their contribution as well.
The new governor, who campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism, had indicated earlier that he might scrap the 21-stop light rail, known as the Purple Line, all together. So his decision to green-light the project came as a surprise to most.
Last month, Hogan had announced he would invest $2 billion in the state’s roads and bridges for deferred maintenance and new construction — which the Maryland Department of Transportation has said is possible in part due to lower costs for the Purple Line.