LANHAM — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete Rahn gathered with members of the media and construction workers in Lanham to give an update on the construction of the Purple Line on Aug. 5.
During the announcement, Hogan informed the public that the Purple Line construction workers have started laying the first section of the track, marking a milestone for the major transit project.
“It’s pretty exciting. Obviously, this has been a long time coming. We’ve been talking about it for decades, but we got the construction started two years ago, so this is a big milestone,” Hogan said. “There is still a long way to go, but this is real progress, and I’m proud of the team that’s doing it.”
The $56 billion Purple Line is the largest transit project in North America using a public-private partnership.
The 16-mile light-rail train will run east to west connecting New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and Bethesda in Montgomery County. The train will be 16 miles long and consist of 21 stations.
It will also connect to the Metro’s Orange, Green and Red lines; MARC Brunswick, Camden and Penn lines; and the Amtrak at New Carrollton.
Additionally, the project will bring jobs into the area as well as business, Hogan said. The construction part of it alone will mean the creation of 6,300 jobs in Maryland. There has also been more than $2 billion in office, residential and commercial projects launched or planned in and around the Purple Line corridor.
“The Purple Line is going to serve as a critical link in a transportation system that is going to serve all of the National Capital Region better and serve the nation’s capital,” Rahn said.
At the end of the announcement, he presented Hogan with a plaque containing a piece rail from the first Purple Line track in commemoration of his efforts on getting the project going.
Hogan also announced the launch of a national infrastructure initiative he recently started in his role as the chair of the National Governors Association. At their first stakeholder summit last week, they discussed ways to rebuild, repair and modernize America’s infrastructure.
During part of that discussion, Hogan pointed to the Purple Line as an example of a forward-thinking infrastructure project that other leaders should be thinking about. Maryland itself has spent $14 billion in transit projects throughout Hogan’s administration.
“Maryland has taken a balanced approach” to infrastructure and almost every high priority project the state has been laid out in every jurisdiction, according to Hogan. There are 800 projects under construction throughout the state with $9 billion spent on roads and bridges.
“In Maryland, we are proud to be setting an example for the rest of the nation,” Hogan said. “And the Purple Line is at the very heart of our state’s infrastructure success story.”
The Purple Line is just one of those infrastructure investments around the state and is one of the largest. The other is the beltway expansion project which is the largest P3 transit project in the entire world, Hogan said.
The project was approved to move forward by the Maryland Board of Public Works in June with phase one consisting of the expansion of I-270.
However, the project received a lot of pushback from local leadership in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County along with residents in both counties. Their biggest gripe with the proposal is the removal of homes and businesses along the highway as part of the expansion as well as the addition of tolls to those roads.
Hogan addressed the controversy by mentioning that the state is working with local partners to compromise on the project and is “making great progress” on it.
“I can’t say that every single person is in 100% agreement on it, but we are moving forward and we’re excited to finally be doing something about the traffic in better ways than complaining about it for decades and doing nothing about it,” Hogan said.
The governor emphasized that improving infrastructure in the area will take a combination of public transit and highway expansion.
The Purple Line will take 17,000 cars off the roads every day, relieving congestion and in turn, make the environment healthier, he said. What it will not do is improve everyone’s commute on its own.
According to the governor, the Purple Line is set to begin operations in 2022.
“This transformative Purple Line Project is one more way that together we truly are changing Maryland for the better.”