- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal says there are no deal-breakers among potential Purple Line cost cuts proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

But Prince George’s County officials are keeping their opinions close to the vest as they review the proposal — a list of 43 potential cuts aimed at reducing project costs for the light rail system by $210 million.

Mr. Hogan released a list of the potential cuts to the $2.4 billion project late Monday — among them shorter station platforms, eliminating the requirement that some station platforms be fully enclosed, reducing the use of glass in elevator enclosures and replacing plant material on the track bed with conventional crushed stone.

“There are some items on there we think we can work with and some that we have some concerns about,” Mr. Leventhal said Tuesday. “Many of the items we are in agreement with.”

The governor announced his support of the 16-mile light rail line, which will run between Bethesda and New Carrollton, last month on the condition that the cost to the state be reduced and that the two counties pick up a larger share of the tab.

Mr. Leventhal said that among his concerns is a proposal to use rock rather than grass along the tracks, something planners believe will help reduce stormwater runoff and noise. But nothing on the list is a deal-breaker, he said.

Included in the cost-cutting plan is a reduction in service from every 6 minutes to every 7.5 minutes at peak times, a savings measure Mr. Hogan addressed when he announced his original support of the line.

Prince George’s County officials said they are reviewing the proposal and that it is too soon to say whether anything on the list would dampen enthusiasm for the project.

“We are in information gathering mode with [Maryland Transit Administration] about the proposed changes in scope, assessing those changes on the quality of the project, and seeking further clarification about the State’s financing role in the revised project,” Thomas Himler, Prince George’s County budget director, said in an email Tuesday.

The Purple Line would connect the two counties with an east-west light rail line, creating 21 stations and a way for riders to access both arms of Metro’s Red Line without traveling all the way into the District.

Mr. Hogan’s proposal does not outline the savings from each individual cost-cutting measure, leaving room for speculation about how much the plan really would reduce the overall Purple Line cost.

“I think the whole cost estimate is a little hard to follow,” Mr. Leventhal said.

Under Mr. Hogan’s plan, state financing would be significantly reduced, with Maryland committing $168 million instead of the $700 million previously allotted. Both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are already on the hook for $120 million a piece for the project, but could each be asked to contribute up to $50 million more.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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