Purple Line Derailed by at Least 1 Year

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The 2013 scheduled completion of the Purple Line will be pushed back at least a year as state officials try to shore up ridership estimates (Baltimore Sun story). The move, according to acting transportation Secretary John Porcari, is in anticipation of a high level of scrutiny from the Federal Transit Administration when the state eventually seeks federal fundingThe big for the $1.3 billion (light rail) project. Federal funding is always a major factor in infrastructure projects, but it is particularly important now given Maryland’s grim state budget projections.

We were looking forward to public meetings this spring/summer on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, but those will certainly be delayed as well. From our view, the Purple Line is a central linchpin of the East Campus Development project. In meetings we’ve had with university administrators, it has been clear that space will be alloted for the transitway since it will inevitably be built after much of the construction on East Campus has already commenced. In the past we’ve supported the rail alignment directly through the project (as pictured above). From a very good source, it appears that that alignment will be pursued as opposed to the Paint Branch Parkway on-street alignment.

7 thoughts on “Purple Line Derailed by at Least 1 Year”

  1. Thanks for the scoop. I didn’t agree with your analysis so I decided not to link to it – if the ridership projections have gaping holes in them then we don’t want to risk the entire project just to speed it along.

    I’m not a federal funding expert, but I think it’s safe to say that highway funding is much more readily available and there is therefore a lot less scrutiny over projects.

  2. The delay is not surprising given the slow motion study of the past 3 years. The good news is John Porcari knows how to move the project forward. A bigger concern is that the current university administration will forget everything in the campus master plan in favor of mega parking garages.

  3. Money for highway construction generally comes from the Federal Highway Trust Fund which is distributed to the 50 states and the District of Columbia by a set formula. So projects in a state compete with other in state projects and not projects in other states. Mass transit projects compete with other projects throughout the country.

    I predict an enhanced interest in public transportation by the University and less interest in addditional parking garages. The University’s last parking garage cost $12,000 a space and I doubt if a garage can be built now for less than $20,000 a space.

  4. While I hope Councilman Catlin is correct, if the connector road – UM’s apparent top transportation priority – goes forward, the university will definitely need some big, ugly, new garages. Or will we clear more grass and trees so we can make more surface parking for tailgating space for all the new football fans filling the new deck. While an enhanced interest in transit would seem to make sense in this era of traffic congestion and global warming, the University of Maryland seems to be falling off the environmental bandwagen with the Departure of John Porcari.

  5. While I do believe that there is something to be said for highways inducing “sprawl” and entrenching the current pattern of land use (indeed I said it in the opinion column that led down the road to this site – http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2006/05/08/Opinion/Rethinking.College.Park-2325497.shtml)
    I have trouble with the line of reasoning that assumes the connector road will necessitate new parking spaces a new garages. Indeed, the university’s student enrollment is almost completely level from year to year and has actually declined over the decades. Staff enrollment is also fairly stable I would guess and nearly everyone that commutes to campus is issued a parking permit.

    Many of the recently built parking garages on campus are simply a result of buildings being (and grass malls more recently) located on surface parking just as recommended in the Campus Master Plan – presumably because land is worth much more than in years past. East Campus will certainly add more net spaces because, unlike many undergraduates, the faculty housing will demand many 24-hour spaces.

  6. It’s really a shame that Porcari refuses to acknowledge the “elephant in the room”–the ICC. If the Ehrlich administration hadn’t focused exclusively on the Intercounty Connector while putting the Purple Line on the back burner, just think how much further along the latter would be by now.

    Governor O’Malley says he supports smarth growth and that he wants to reduce the state’s contribution to global warming. If so, he should cancel the wasteful, expensive ICC and make the Purple Line his top priority.

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