Maryland has received a $2 million federal grant to figure out how the Purple Line can spur economic development without pricing out residents and business owners with the higher rents expected to follow the light-rail line’s construction.
The money also will be used to analyze how to help pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders reach Purple Line stations most easily, said Gerrit Knaap, executive director of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. The center will coordinate the grant spending with the Maryland Transit Administration, Knaap said.
The work also will include studying ways to preserve affordable housing and help local businesses adapt to the rail corridor’s changing economy, he said.
“There’s been a lot of focus on building the train line,” Knaap said, “but less focus on making sure the corridor is prepared appropriately to complement this new transportation.”
The 16-mile Purple Line, which is in its second year of construction, will run east-west inside the Capital Beltway, between New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and downtown Bethesda in Montgomery County. It’s scheduled to begin carrying passengers in late 2022.
Concerns about the rail line’s potential impact on local communities led to an agreement signed last year by government, business and community leaders to help the people who live and work in the corridor stay and benefit from the state’s $5.6 billion transit investment. The grant will be used to carry out the agreement, Knaap said.
“The whole idea here is very much a collective approach to engage multiple stakeholders to make this work,” Knaap said.
Maryland received the largest grant among the $16.6 million awarded this week by the Federal Transit Administration to 20 projects nationwide. The funding is intended to help local officials plan for transit-oriented development and improve access to public transportation.