Purple Line Light Rail Gets Critical Go-Ahead in Maryland
Katherine Shaver reports:
A Maryland board approved a $5.6 billion contract Wednesday for a team of companies to build and operate a light-rail Purple Line that state officials say will rejuvenate older communities and transform a 16-mile swath of the Washington suburbs.
The contract is believed to be the most expensive government contract in Maryland's history. According to Shaver, the project holds additional historical significance: "The Purple Line also will be the first direct suburb-to-suburb link in a regional rail system built 40 years ago to ferry federal workers between the suburbs and the city."
In a quirk of governance, the extension will connect two spokes in the Metrorail system, but the Maryland Department of Transportation will own and operate the line. The project still faces opposition. An interactive map of the new line, created by The Washington Post, includes markers on "controversial areas."
Shaver shares a few more of the critical details of how the new light rail line differs from other lines in the Metro system:
Compared with Metro trains, Purple Line light-rail trains will be shorter, carry a maximum of 301 passengers and travel more slowly. They will be powered by overhead electrical lines and run aboveground, mostly in their own lanes on local streets between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Construction is expected to begin later this, with a target opening data of 2022.