This is not a game, and, as a federal judge, Leon should know better than to make reckless judgements in court when placing the future of people’s livelihoods at stake. The time is long overdue to refocus on what’s important: The Purple Line will stimulate economic growth, create jobs and provide a desperately needed transportation fix.
Let’s face it: Not every American is fortunate enough to afford a car. But Americans do need jobs, and we most certainly require transportation to reach our places of employment.
This is especially true here. The Purple Line project would fill a deepening transportation void by providing a missing east-west transit link through the densely populated Maryland suburbs. And it would do so in in an economically feasible and environmentally friendly way.
For the tens of thousands of passengers who travel to and from work throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, from Bethesda and Silver Spring to College Park, the 21-station, 16-mile long Purple Line would provide a significant transportation link. The Purple Line would connect people in these suburbs to Metro’s Red, Green and Orange Lines, as well as MARC, Amtrak and many local bus lines, without requiring the long and often arduous journey into the heart of the District.
The vision for the Purple Line is the culmination of more than 25 years of planning and several well-considered components. The plans involve more than $500 million in private-sector financing secured by infrastructure developers, a Federal Transit Administration final record of decision secured in 2014 that made available a $900 million New Starts grant, and a state-selected private concessionaire slated to design, build and operate the Purple Line over a 35-year term.
Yet last summer, a few Town of Chevy Chase residents and the trail advocacy group Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail brought a lawsuit to Leon’s court alleging that supplemental review by the federal and state transit administrations were needed to assess if Metro’s safety issues and falling number of passengers would influence the Purple Line.
The Federal Transit Administration’s analysis concluded in December that the Metro issues would not have a major impact on Purple Line ridership which is conservatively projected to carry close to 70,000 riders a day by 2040.
Soon, the fate of the Purple Line is about to reach a critical juncture.
Leon has been asked by the federal and Maryland transit administrations to issue a new ruling by April 28, or at least release the freeze he placed on federal approval for funding.
Is Leon capable of making a financially responsible or even objective decision in this case?
Consider the repercussions of his decision: If the Purple Line is created, it would serve as a much-needed transportation safety net for hard-working Americans. If the Purple Line never comes to fruition, potential jobs, housing and commercial centers will never materialize, and Maryland will pay a huge financial penalty to the private concessionaire.
Numbers don’t lie. A 2015 study projected that as a result of economic growth stimulated by the Purple Line, thousands of short-term jobs and approximately 25,000 new permanent jobs would be created, and property values along the route would increase by $13 billion.
It has been said that the only person to ever stop Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, was his college coach, Dean Smith. He did so by keeping Jordan, a star in the making, on the bench. Smith wanted to show Jordan who ran the team. It seems that the Dean Smith of the Purple Line is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon.
Rob Bindeman and his family have owned a rental garden apartment community in Chevy Chase for nearly 40 years. The zoning/redevelopment of the property is tied to construction of the Purple Line.