Urban Fold

Transit Lacks Political Will

Rail expansion takes a back seat to new highway.

A proposed expansion of the D.C. Metro system has fallen out of the public and political eye in favor of a new highway project, the Intercounty Connector. The Purple Line would connect Montgomery and Prince George's counties, two jurisdictions where Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) lacks support. Ehrlich's predecessor, Paris Glendening (D) killed the environmental impact study of the highway in the late 90's because he thought it too damaging to be built. "The Purple Line has become a joke," said Montgomery Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who is considering a bid for governor and has said he supports the connector and a rail line. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R), Duncan said, "has a one-road transportation program, which is the [connector], and everything else is getting pushed to the back burner." Governor Ehrlich has requested that the Purple Line study be redone to include bus rapid transit (BRT) because bus service is cheaper than rail and is more likely to receive federal funding. "The whole debate about the [connector] illustrates that when you have the political will to do something, you can get it done," said Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez. "But when you have the political will to tank something, you can try to do that too. There's no political will to build the Purple Line."

Thanks to Peter Buryk

Full Story: Fortunes Shift for East-West Rail Plan

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