- Ann Coulter takes up ‘Mitt Romney for President’ chant again
- Mount Everest avalanche kills a dozen Sherpa guides
- Vice principal saved from South Korean sinking ferry found hanged
- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
Planning for Purple Line rail route gets federal OK
Federal officials have given Maryland the green light to continue planning for its proposed Purple Line light-rail route, though looming federal budget cuts could still slow or derail the $1.9 billion project.
The Federal Transit Administration last week gave the Maryland Transit Administration permission to start the preliminary engineering phase on the 16-mile route from Bethesda to New Carrollton. MTA officials now can begin a detailed design process and estimate they could begin construction in 2015 and start moving passengers in 2020.
“The Purple Line will be an environmentally friendly option that will reduce gridlock and connect citizens to economic opportunities throughout the region,” Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said Friday, adding that the federal approval “affirms the benefits and feasibility of this project.
Henry Kay, MTA’s executive director for transit development and delivery, said planners were encouraged that the FTA gave the project a medium-high rating — typically the best rating given on its low-to-high scale.
“There are probably hundreds of potential rail and transit projects in the country, and only a couple dozen survive this step of the process,” Mr. Kay said. “If you know what goes into it and how vigorous their process is, it’s very meaningful.”
Federal officials also said the go-ahead was an early but critical milestone.
State officials are asking the FTA to cover half the project’s cost through its New Starts program. But they also know that expected federal budget cuts could force the FTA to reduce funding or turn down some projects.
Congress agreed last month to extend its current transit funding levels through the end of March, at which point lawmakers are expected to consider cuts as part of a longer-term deal.
“This is not business as usual,” Caitlin Hughes Rayman, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s assistant secretary of transportation policy, told state legislators last month, warning that the federal-funding picture for state road and transit projects “seems to get worse every few months.”
Mr. Kay downplayed the potential impact of funding cuts on the project, saying that MTA officials expect New Starts will continue funding projects for the foreseeable future, though the Purple Line could lose some funding.
He said that the MTA expects to reach a funding agreement with federal officials by 2013, and that the federal share potentially could be less than 50 percent.
“I wouldn’t say we’re worried [about funding], but it’s certainly something we track,” Mr. Kay said. “At this point, we’re watching the debate in Congress, and it’s hard to tell how it will turn out.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Team Obama's bizarre behavior helps Gitmo terrorists foil justice
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- CBO shows it's Paul Ryan 4, Obama 0 on budget targeting
- PRUDEN: When a bored president just 'mails it in'
- Joe Biden's biggest gaffe: VP blowing his 2016 head start
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- With pot and e-cigarettes, Big Tobacco is just waiting to inhale emerging markets
- Golden Hammer: Easter candy bitter taste for taxpayers?
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.