The following are reactions from local politicians, activists and developers to Thursday’s news that the state will move ahead with the light-rail Purple Line:
Statement from Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett:
“I am heartened by the governor’s decision today. I look forward to further discussions with the governor over every aspect of the Purple Line—cost, design, construction schedule, and the role Montgomery County will be able to play in making the Purple Line a reality.
Enabling people to move around the Washington, D.C., metro area is extremely important to our overall quality of life. It is important for us to continue to invest in new businesses that create jobs and grow our tax base. Montgomery County benefits. Prince George’s County benefits. And the state of Maryland really benefits.
That’s the message I recently delivered to Gov. Larry Hogan when I met with him to further discuss the need to build the Purple Line. That is what I believe the Purple Line is all about.”
Purple Line proponent Nick Brand – President, Action Committee for Transit:
“It’s good news for the Purple Line and the state, but the devil is in the details and we’ll see how all this plays out. It’s absolutely right to move forward with it, as long as the fundamental design is not compromised. We’ll go ahead and work out the details through the contracting and bid process.”
John Fitzgerald – Chevy Chase lawyer suing the federal government over environmental issues concerning the Purple Line:
“There’s a huge need to continue to use the Capital Crescent Trail as a park, so we’re going to continue to fight for that and the reduced-cost line raises a number of questions that may require a supplemental environmental impact statement to suss out the changes. …Any substantial change in budget for it probably implies a substantial change in the environmental impact, so we’ll probably make that as an additional point.”
Statement from Rep. Chris Van Hollen, 8th District:
“Today Gov. Hogan gave us mixed news on the future of critical transportation projects in Maryland. I’m pleased that the governor has not closed the door to the Purple Line and recognizes the positive impact it will have, but he has asked Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to shoulder considerable additional burden and opened the door to altering the plans.
“I’m troubled by these changes and will be reviewing the impact to ensure commitments made to communities along the route are met. …Investment in transportation is a win-win for our state—it helps rebuild and expand crumbling infrastructure, puts people back to work at good-paying jobs, and helps revitalize local neighborhoods. The success of Maryland is contingent on the success of all of our communities—that must be true of our transportation policy.”
Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal:
“We welcome the governor’s decision to proceed with the Purple Line. It’s a vitally needed project for mobility and our economy.”
On the governor’s request that the county increase its investment in the project:
“We’re looking forward to getting all the details on that. We want the project to proceed.”
Leventhal also credited environmental leaders, transit advocates, the business community and civic leaders with convincing the governor, who had opposed the project during his gubernatorial campaign, to change his mind.
“The credit goes to the advocates who consistently made the case that we need this project to provide alternatives to the automobile and generate jobs and investment.”
District 18 State Senator Richard Madaleno
“I’m just so confused by how he plans to make this work. The governor just took a wild swing in the opposite direction of all of his rhetoric of the last two years. He complained about the tax and spend policy of O’Malley and he basically just doubled down on it. It’s remarkable to me the governor’s change in philosophy.”
“The governor is getting the headlines that he wants, but I wouldn’t go out and buy the ceremonial shovel for the groundbreaking just yet. There are so many unknown details to this deal.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner:
“It’s a good day for Montgomery County, a good day for our quality of life, for our economy, for our environment and for traffic relief.”
On the governor’s request that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties invest more money in the project:
“It had always been part of the conversation that the governor would come to us and ask us to put in a little more. I personally believe we can do a little more. Our assumption is that the county will have to do a little more and the [private] partners will have to do a lot more. We need to, of course, see the details of the project and how the project has changed.”
Barbara Sanders – Silver Spring resident and one of the earliest Purple Line NOW members; her husband, Harry Sanders, is the so-called “Father of the Purple Line” who died in 2010:
“It’s very, very special. We have been on pins and needles since the election. We understood that he’s been supportive of jobs and the economic impact of this and we weren’t sure we were getting through to him and to his administration with the facts.
“This was a lifelong goal of my husband’s. It’s been five years since he actually dealt with cancer that was involved with the lymph nodes. So it’s hitting me in more than one way.
“I have a much more minimal concern about the two counties finding the funds for this. This has been a long-term, first priority in their transportation lists and they recognize the value of the project to the counties. I think the money will come. I think they might negotiate it a little more but I think the money will come.”
Purple Line opponent Ajay Bhatt – Chevy Chase resident and president of the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail (part of the federal lawsuit):
“Clearly we’re disappointed in his decision. As an organization we represent tens of thousands that use and enjoy the Capital Crescent Trail and we think that the trail, it’s too big of a sacrifice for this project. The governor campaigned on a platform that the Purple Line was too expensive, and losing 40 acres of park inside the Beltway is a big part of that exorbitant cost. And it’s an expense I think the voters hoped he wouldn’t incur.
“We still have our claim in federal court and we have filed our intent to sue in Maryland court and we hope that those help to provide answers to all the questions that remain looming from the environmental impact statement and the record of decision.
“I think those claims in federal court and state court, those are going to make certain that clear environmental stewardship prevails and we still envision and we still have hope for our vision of a world-class park on the Capital Crescent Trail and the governor’s decision doesn’t change that.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker:
“I feel pretty confident the County Council will support more money in the capital budget for the Purple Line given this is our top transportation priority and our top economic priority.
“First, it’s a huge economic shot-in-the-arm for Silver Spring. It’s going to help businesses. It also is going to mean our Silver Spring and Takoma Park constituents can get to their job centers in Bethesda and in Rockville and in Shady Grove and they’ll be able to take their classes at the University of Maryland without the delays that they’ve been experiencing for years.
“I think I have 11 stops in [County Council District 5], which is more than anywhere else. It’s important that we be attentive to neighborhood concerns along the route and that we make sure that we’re building a very high-quality Purple Line where we’re paying attention to concerns about noise and pedestrian safety and other issues like that.
“But overall, it’s an enormous benefit and the rejection of the Purple Line would’ve set us back many more years. This is going to be a big boost both to our local and our quality of life.”
District 16 Del. Marc Korman:
On Hogan’s decision to wear a purple tie for the announcement:
“I’m really happy in the governor’s choice of tie colors. I think it’s good news that he did not kill the project outright like many of us pessimistically had feared. The devil is in the details, particularly in the size of the increase to the counties.”
On Hogan putting more of the cost on the counties:
“That was always one of the possibilities that people knew was out there. But the number—I mean what is affordable by the counties—really has a huge impact on this. It’s one thing to say the county should pay more, but you have to give them the specifics of what that is. They’re already paying $120 million each, but Montgomery is also paying for the [Capital Crescent] Trail and the county is already paying for the Bethesda Metro entrance.
“The math is a little fuzzy because a lot of the public-private partnership money where the governor is counting his savings is money we were already counting on.”
Miti Figueredo – Chevy Chase Land Co., Vice President of Public Affairs
On why Hogan decided to move ahead with the project:
“It was understanding what it would do for Maryland’s economy and how important it was to the business community.”