Chamber Leaders Offer Their Purple Line Plea To Hogan

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A few days after a group of developers and business leaders urged Governor-elect Larry Hogan not to kill the Purple Line, a pair of chamber of commerce leaders offered their plea.

The Montgomery County and Prince George’s Chambers of Commerce sent a joint letter to Hogan on Tuesday, again emphasizing the light rail project’s potential as an economic development tool.

The Chamber of Commerce letter follows similar messages from the developer group calling itself the Economic Partners of the Purple Line and the chairs of the Montgomery and Prince George’s County Planning Boards.

The $2.45 billion, 16-mile light rail would run from Bethesda to New Carrollton and was scheduled to start construction in 2015. But the system’s supporters are wary that Hogan, who recently has expressed opposition to major transit projects, will delay or kill it.

It could require more than $500 million in state funding to go with $900 million in federal funding, contributions from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and up-front construction payments from a yet-to-be-selected private concessionaire.

In their letter, Montgomery County Chamber President Gigi Godwin and Prince George’s County Chamber president David Harrington cite that county’s quest to land the new FBI headquarters.

The letter also argued the light rail system would help retain federal employees, link the University of Maryland to employment hubs and help Maryland compete with Virginia. Just like the developer group, the letter references the successful completion of the first phase of the Metro Silver Line into Tysons Corner and Reston.

The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber and the Montgomery County Chamber are also both part of the Economic Partners of the Purple Line group.

The full letter is after the jump:

Dear Governor-Elect Hogan,
The Montgomery County and Prince George’s Chambers of Commerce join together to offer you congratulations on your election as our next Governor.  Our Chambers represent interests in industries such as health care, information technology, cyber security, financial services, construction, land use, education, hospitality and government contracting.  Across this diversity, we share common economic goals including improved regional transportation to support Maryland’s economic growth.
We are writing to urge you to invest in the regional transportation network and economic strength of the Capital Region by keeping the Purple Line on schedule for the following reasons:

  • Secure the FBI. Access to transit is a criterion used in evaluating future locations of federal agencies. For the pending decision of where to locate the FBI, support of the Purple Line strengthens Maryland’s case as the logical choice for the new facility.
  • Retain federal employees. A robust regional transportation network is a critical factor in the competition to attract and retain the dozens of federal agencies and offices owned and leased in Maryland. Maryland must continue to be a place that GSA considers desirable to locate federal employees.
  • Link higher learning institutions to job opportunities.  The connection between the University of Maryland College Park and high density population centers and the employment hubs in our counties is vital to opening access to opportunities for students and employers alike.
  • Launch the first Public-Private Partnership under Maryland’s reformed law.  This innovative approach to complete major infrastructure projects will be important throughout the state.
  • Boost Economic Development. The Purple Line, like other transit hubs, will have a return on investment attracting major retail, jobs and residential opportunities.
  • Compete in the region. The Purple Line project includes plans to expand the digital network infrastructure and support future industries that will keep Maryland competitive. Virginia worked hard to build new Metro stations in Reston, Herndon, and four in Tysons Corner. We cannot fall further behind the economic opportunities the Silver Line is already generating.

You have the opportunity to shape the destiny of the Purple Line and therefore the role Maryland will play in the region and the global marketplace for generations to come.  Our full potential will only be reached through bold vision and courageous decisions to support access to opportunity today and into the future.
Thank you for your consideration of these important points as you determine how to proceed with the Purple Line and other transportation priorities. We look forward to working with you.
Sincerely,
Georgette “Gigi” Godwin                                                             David Harrington
President and CEO                                                                         President and CEO
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce                   Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce

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