Purple Line? Yes.

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We are on the brink of huge progress for Maryland’s economy with the construction of the Purple Line.  We urge Gov.-elect Larry Hogan to stand with us and other leaders in the General Assembly, our Congressional delegation, local government, and our local business community to see this critical project through to completion.  It will bring not only essential transit options to Marylanders but jobs and opportunity to the people we represent.

Literally dozens of economic development projects are already planned along the route of the Purple Line and they obviously depend on construction to proceed.  These projects will create thousands of jobs.  The building of the Purple Line itself will itself create hundreds more jobs.  That is why the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, and many others in the business community strongly support this project.

Some skeptics say we cannot afford it.  But in fact we can’t afford not to build it.  The federal government has allocated $100 million for the Purple Line in the current fiscal year.  The Obama Administration has recommended the project for full federal funding over the next several years, which would amount to $900 million.  If we let the money go, it will not be available for other transportation projects in Maryland—it goes to other states with shovel-ready projects.  The competition for federal transit funding is fierce and if we pull the plug on the Purple Line, these funds will be spent building transit systems in other regions.  How can we turn down a $900 million federal investment in the economy of our State?

The federal, State, and local shares of the cost of the Purple Line are already fully funded in the Consolidated Transportation Program, the State’s transportation capital budget.  There is no need to raise new revenue or cancel other transportation projects that currently have funding to build the Purple Line.  Hundreds of other transportation projects across the State are funded in the CTP and will go forward whether we build the Purple Line or not.  The State is not ignoring the need for investments in highways and other transportation projects in rural and suburban parts of the State to pay for the Purple Line.

Some opponents of the Purple Line invite you to believe that transportation investment is a zero sum game.  They suggest that an investment in one part of the State necessarily comes at the expense of investment in another part of the State.  But all of Maryland benefits when any one part of Maryland has a project like the Purple Line.  This is especially true when the project revs up the State’s economic engine, the Washington, D.C. suburbs.  The economic boost the Purple Line will bring to the Washington region will generate new State tax revenue that will provide funding for education, health care, public safety, and transportation investments we all need.  About 70% of State aid to local governments is distributed according to formulas that are more generous to jurisdictions with less wealth, many of which are located in rural areas.

Building the Purple Line is important to the future of Maryland for another reason.  The State is planning to use an innovative partnership with a private entity to design, build, operate, finance, and maintain the Purple Line.  These public-private partnerships have the potential to increase efficiency and lower the cost of providing public infrastructure and services.  But these types of partnerships are relatively new in the United States.  The international business community is watching the Purple Line procurement closely.  If the State cancels the project now, it will shake the confidence of investors and potential bidders who will be needed to participate in future public-private partnerships.  The credibility of the State, and indeed the entire U.S. market for public-private partnerships, will be undermined by an enormous and unwarranted change at the last minute.  If that happens, we may lose out on the benefits these projects may offer in the future.

We have come so far, and are so close to delivering a project that will bring great dynamism and excitement to our region and State.  Let’s not turn back now. 

Senator Jamie Raskin, Delegate Sheila Hixson, Delegate William Smith, and Delegate David Moon
Montgomery County - District 20





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