Just when I thought the Purple Line project had finally cleared every hurdle, it has suffered a serious setback thanks to a court ruling yesterday. This matters to cyclists, because the project will also extend the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring, extend the Green Trail to Sligo Creek, build a brand new University of Maryland bicycle path from the intersection of Campus Drive and Presidential Drive to US Route 1, move part of the Rock Creek Park Trail out of the floodplain and more.
Maryland officials had scheduled a public event for Monday to sign a funding agreement in which federal officials are expected to commit $900 million in grants toward the project’s $2 billion construction, according to three officials with knowledge of the event. The signing of that agreement was considered the last major hurdle before construction could begin.
But yesterday, the court ruled that the EIS was no longer valid
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered that the Maryland Transit Administration’s “record of decision” on the Purple Line — the federal stamp of approval on the project’s environmental analysis — be set aside until the state recalculates the ridership projections done for that study.
Whether Leon’s decision will delay that start is not clear. However, during a June 15 hearing in the case, attorneys for the MTA and the federal government said refiguring the ridership forecasts could push back the project by six months and unravel its $5.6 billion, 36-year public-private partnership.