Dannielle Glaros and Deni Taveras are members of the Prince George's County Council.
Eleven of the Purple Line's proposed 21 stops are in the county we represent, Prince George's, and we're excited by the economic growth the line will bring to our constituents. The Purple Line is where adequately investing in our region's infrastructure begins, and the unwarranted delays the project has come up against are costly to taxpayers, damaging to communities, and unfair to residents that rely on public transportation for their livelihood.
Set to open in 2021, the Purple Line is a 16-mile light rail line between New Carrollton and Bethesda. The line was supposed to break ground this past December, but back in August, a federal judge blocked the project because he agreed with opponents that “declining Metro ridership requires re-studying all of the projections for the light rail.”
The reality is that the concern about WMATA ridership is merely a distraction. NIMBYs who have opposed the project for nearly 25 years have used this artful ploy as a last ditch effort to block this well-evaluated and much-needed project. The Purple line will not be operated by WMATA and won't physically rely on WMATA’s infrastructure.
We can no longer allow individual interests to block the public interests of smart development, enhanced public infrastructure, a modern public transportation system, and more integrated communities.
The Purple Line will connect to Metrorail and alleviate crippling congestion levels. The stations will set the stage for major redevelopment, increased revenue, and growth opportunities for small businesses. Projected Purple Line headways (the time between trains) are similar to, if not better than what Metrorail provides.
Economic growth along the Purple Line will be anchored by a newly-announced Marriott headquarters in Bethesda, continued expansion in Silver Spring, communities such as Langley Park with some of the densest and fastest growing populations, a nationally renowned state university, and transit-oriented development projects in College Park and New Carrollton. New Carrollton alone is on track to add more than 2,000 new jobs in just the next few years.
But all of this revitalization and job growth is contingent on the Purple Line happening. With it, innovation and economic growth would flourish.
As delays continue, project dates will be pushed back and costs will continue to rise. Had groundbreaking actually happened in December, hiring for hundreds of jobs with the project would have started. With pockets of high unemployment along and near future stations, the continued delay is undermining access to jobs, economic mobility, and job opportunity for our families and residents.
We should not let property owners looking to revitalize or redevelop their properties shelve or slow down their investments. In an underused office space in Riverdale, engineers have been working for months to finalize the engineering to keep the project on track. Homes and businesses have been bought and continue to be removed in anticipation of the Purple Line. Yet, there is still no project certainty.
This is the meandering path the Purple Line has been subjected to, where hope and opportunity are discouraged by last-minute attempts to derail investment and key transportation linkages.
The Purple Line is the type of innovative, forward-thinking project Maryland and the nation need to improve infrastructure, connect our knowledge centers, integrate our communities, and provide economic opportunity. It is time to move the Purple Line forward.
Equally as important, we need to figure out a better way to move important infrastructure projects forward so that they do not take decades to deliver. Our workforce, economy, and residents depend on it.