Rendering from the Maryland Transit Administration.

New Maryland transportation secretary Pete Rahn says canceling the Purple Line is off the table, but he’s also not saying the project will definitely happen. If that comes off as wishy washy, blame the struggle between getting the project moving and lowering its price tag.

In an interview with WAMU’s Martin Di Caro yesterday, Rahn said Maryland governor Larry Hogan has tasked him with finding the cheapest way to build the Purple Line but still “meet the need.”

The Purple Line’s projected price tag has grown to $2.5 billion from its original estimation of $2.2. And though the federal government has allocated $900 million in funding, Rahn said contributing won’t be worth it for Maryland if the Purple Line’s is ultimately too expensive. But he stopped short of putting an actual number to that threshold.

Rahn also didn’t name possibilities for cutting costs. He only said that the route will not change, and that the Purple Line will remain light rail.

Rahn said his biggest concern is that the four teams vying for the contract to build the Purple Line will grow frustrated with the project’s delays. He left it at that, not saying what that frustration might lead to.

At the end of the day, Maryland should fund the Purple Line

Because the Purple Line is a public-private partnership, calling it off could make businesses think twice before making infrastructure investments in Maryland.

“Using [our] national experience with transportation as background,” wrote the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, “[we] urged [Hogan] to consider possible direct cost increases and detrimental effects on future Maryland PPPs should he choose to delay or cancel the Purple Line, which is in the latter stages of procurement.”

Also at risk is the economic boost the Purple Line will bring to the region.

What do you think of what Secretary Rahn had to say? Do you have a stake in the future of the Purple Line? Let us know in the comments.

Abigail Zenner, is a former lobbyist turned communications specialist. She specializes in taking technical urban planning jargon and turning it into readable blog posts. When she’s not nerding out about urban planning, transportation, and American History, you may find her teaching a fitness class. Her blog posts represent her personal views only.