Purple Line Plaintiffs Ask Judge Not To Allow Project To Proceed
Filing claims project's advancement would cause environmental harm; meanwhile judge releases memo explaining May ruling
Plaintiffs in the long-running Purple Line lawsuit are urging a federal judge to deny a state request that would let the project advance while the legal review continues.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh last week asked U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon to stay a judgment and order that have stalled construction of the proposed 16.2-mile light-rail line. On Thursday, the plaintiff Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail submitted a response arguing the state’s motion “makes no legal or logical sense.” The group—which filed the lawsuit in 2014 along with two Town of Chevy Chase residents—offered a forceful rebuttal to Frosh’s argument that letting the project move forward would be in the public interest.
“The State’s argument is … based on a blatantly one-sided conception of where the public’s interest lies,” states the memo, which also calls the project “massively expensive” and “environmentally destructive.”
The state’s motion argued that keeping the project in a holding pattern simply escalates the cost and deprives Maryland commuters of a much-needed transportation improvement. To allow forward motion, the judge would need to stay his May 22 ruling requiring further analysis of projected ridership on the proposed light-rail line and his August order vacating federal approval of the project.
The state had asked Leon make a decision by June 9. The judge did release a memorandum on Friday, but it didn’t address the state’s motion. Instead, it fulfilled his commitment to explain his previous ruling.
Leon’s May 22 ruling and his August decision to revoke federal approval of the project have prevented the state from securing the $900 million in federal funds that state officials say is needed for construction to proceed on the light-rail line that is planned to connect Bethesda with New Carrollton along an east-west route.