Norman Augustine Credit: NASA.gov

The latest letter sent to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk about the Purple Line comes from the former CEO of one of Maryland’s largest companies.

Norman Augustine, the former CEO of Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin who chairs the Maryland Economic Development & Business Climate Commission, wrote Friday to the governor to encourage him to support the transit project.

Augustine wrote that he was personally petitioning Hogan, outside of his work with the commission to foster Maryland’s ability to attract businesses and jobs.

“It seems clear that among the more serious inhibitors to the growth of business in Maryland is the inadequacy of our transportation system,” Augustine wrote. “In fact, our state now ranks last (worst) among states in average commute time, and that loss of productivity is largely concentrated in the Baltimore/Washington area. The Purple Line would be a significant step forward in relieving that impediment to business, particularly with regard to recruiting.”

If built, the estimated $2.4 billion light rail project would connect Bethesda with New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

Pete Rahn, the new Maryland transportation secretary appointed by Hogan, is reviewing the project and has urged staff at the Maryland Transit Administration to determine where cost savings might be possible.

At a meeting with elected officials from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties on Monday, state transportation officials said they’re looking into modifying the plans and that a decision on whether to move forward with the project could come as soon as mid-May.

Business groups, including several Montgomery County developers as well leaders of the Montgomery and Prince George’s chambers of commerce, have also sent letters to Hogan asking him to support the project, citing benefits to the business community.