About 60 Maryland state lawmakers sent a joint letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Friday urging him to build the Purple Line and Red Line, two transit projects under review by state transportation officials.
The legislators from Baltimore City and Prince George’s, Montgomery and Baltimore counties said the Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail line that would run between New Carrollton and Bethesda, and the Red Line, a 14-mile light-rail system from East Baltimore to Woodlawn in Baltimore County, are essential to Hogan’s goal of bringing jobs and businesses to the state.
“We share your goals of growing Maryland’s economy and making its business climate more competitive,” the letter reads. “We believe that moving forward with construction on the Red and Purple lines is critical in achieving those aims.”
The lawmakers join a growing chorus of supporters calling on Hogan to move forward with the long-planned projects, which are being reviewed by Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
“Mobility is critical, not just for quality of life but for our economic future,” said Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery).
Hogan, who has focused on improving the state’s roads, has balked at the cost of the light-rail projects, and he asked bidders and Rahn to find ways to make them less expensive.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said the governor is continuing to work with Rahn on the review of the projects and an evaluation of whether the state can afford them. The Purple Line is estimated to cost $2.45 billion, with $900 million coming from federal grants and the rest from state coffers.
“Nothing has changed from what we’ve said in the past,” Mayer said.
The state is expected to make a decision on the Purple Line by mid-May.
In recent weeks, Hogan has received numerous letters from business leaders, advocacy groups and members of the Maryland congressional delegation regarding the projects.
Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s) said she signed the letter delivered Friday because she believes light rail will bring economic development to Prince George’s County “in a way we haven’t seen.” She touted the project’s economic benefits.
According to an analysis by Transportation Economics & Management Systems, the Purple Line is expected to generate more than 40,000 permanent and temporary jobs and $635 million annually in increased federal and state income tax and property tax payments.
The Red Line would provide access to 180,000 jobs in Baltimore and Baltimore County.